Standing Out In A Crowd by Larry W Peebles September 22, 2017 17.36
I had a feeling he was the one when I saw him standing across the street. He was tall, distinguished looking, and well dressed. He could hardly hold back the tears. In a moment, we would know for certain. My wife and I were on the final afternoon of three days of street evangelism meetings in a small town in Kenya. Along with our Kenyan friends, the pastor and worship team from a local church, we had set up on the street corner of a busy transportation station, where taxis (14 passenger vans) were coming and going, moving people from one place to another. These taxis are the principal means of transportation in this part of Kenya. Cars are expensive, so if it is too far to walk, people use these taxis. The traffic in and out of this transfer station is quite busy. The locals had set up a market here also, selling snacks, drinks, fruit and other merchandise to the travelers coming through. So it was on this street corner out in the open air we had been preaching the good news of the Gospel of Jesus for three days.
Each day we had drawn a crowd bigger than the day before. The travelers coming and going, as well as the locals working the booths in the market would stop and listen to the message. They would join the dancing and singing to the lively worship music. My wife and I both spoke that last afternoon, and our messages were connected. The messages were similar in theme not because we had planned it that way, as neither of us knew in advance what the other would say. The messages were similar because God intended it that way. He often does that when we both speak in a ministry setting.
I spoke from John 14:6, where Jesus says He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” I was reminding the crowd that when Jesus comes into a new believer’s heart as Savior, He brings real life and truth, and reveals the direction and purpose for that life. That was when I heard the Lord say He does not come for the crowd, but always for the individual. The size of the crowd does not matter. When He looks at the crowd, he sees only the individual. What I heard in my spiritual ear was so strong I spoke it aloud to the crowd. I announced that Jesus Himself would be walking into our gathering to receive one soul into His salvation. At least one person within the sound of my voice would make the decision this very afternoon to invite Jesus into his heart and life to be Savior, Lord, and King.
When we had both finished our messages to the people, we turned the meeting over to the local pastor. He summarized beautifully, asking if anyone present wished to give their life to Jesus, and begin a new life by making a decision to follow Him. That was when I saw the one man standing across the street. He stood out, although he was in the crowd. His lower lip trembled as he fought back the tears. When the pastor asked anyone who wanted to make such a decision to step forward, the man broke immediately from the crowd to cross the street. A large crowd followed. This man received his salvation, and many others were also saved or touched through prayer.
In my last position before I retired from a career in homebuilding, I was responsible for the entire operation of a Division of a large national homebuilding Company. One year, that Division delivered 2850 homes in the local market. That works out as an average of 11 homes per work day that were started, constructed, finished, sold and closed. Someone asked how we could have possibly built, sold and closed 2850 homes in one year. My response was quick- one home, one customer at a time.
Jesus works the same way. He is the Savior of the world. All of mankind will forever owe a debt of gratitude to Him for His saving work on the cross. Our very eternal existence with Him in heaven is because He came to earth to pay the price for ours sins so that we can be reconciled to God. However, He works that salvation one person at a time. I have seen video of massive meetings in Africa where the crowd, numbered in the millions, came to hear the message of Jesus. The number of people who came forward to receive salvation was in the hundreds of thousands. Jesus did not respond to the millions or the hundreds of thousands. He met each one individually, just as He came for that one man that afternoon in a small town in Kenya.
The man looked healthy and strong, but the tears on his face said his heart was broken. I do not know if his tears were joy or pain or both. I do not know his past, or his present situation. I do know that in that moment of salvation the sins of his past were forgiven and washed away. The man was given a new life, a second chance, literally a new birth. Hope and help became available. The burden of having to carry the weight of one’s own trouble was lifted, and great joy entered into the situation. Each situation and individual is different, and that is the reason Jesus comes for one person at a time.
Some would say that receiving the initial gift of salvation is only a starting point, and that is true, but it is an important starting point. Every journey begins with that all- important first step. There may be memories to deal with, forgiveness to seek from others, and efforts made to break bad habits and behaviors. Mentoring and study in the word of God will help strengthen the resolve to not go back to old ways. Prayer will need to become a habit, like talking with a good friend. Each person is unique, and each salvation experience is unique. That is why Jesus comes to one at a time to receive His specially created child back home.
On this day, it was more than enough to celebrate one man being born again into a new life of following Jesus. While much can be said about the process of salvation, here are five things to remember about what commonly happens when a life is turned over to Jesus:
- We are a new creation. When Jesus becomes the Lord and Savior of our lives, we are born again. 2 Corinthians 5:17- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!”
- We are free from past sins. Romans 8:2- “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death.” The Bible says our sins are removed from us “as far as the east is from the west.”
- We are redeemed and forgiven. Ephesians 1:7- “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.”
- We are not only free from sin, we are made righteous. 2 Corinthians 5:21- “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
- We are alive in Christ. Ephesians 2:4-5- “But because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions-it is by grace you have been saved.” What we formerly considered living was merely the dead walking. We move from being dead in sin to a new life in Christ.
Not only did the one man stand out in the crowd, but according to Luke 15:7, “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.” All of heaven danced and celebrated to the music along with us because of that one man’s decision that day in a small town in Kenya. Something outstanding happened- a man’s life was changed forever. That, my friends, is priceless.