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I Cannot Believe

I Cannot Believe

“I cannot believe on Jesus Christ,” the salesman told me as we stood inside the mobile phone shop. We were waiting for his coworker to retrieve my new phone from their stock. I had turned the conversation from how I could speak the local dialect to why I was fluent—to share the gospel. “My mother worships the goddess of mercy. If I became a Christian, I couldn’t go to the temple with her. To keep peace in my family, I cannot become a Christian.”

The cultural difference between this Asian young man and my Western background could not have been more defined. First, he expressed himself much more forthrightly than I would have with someone I had just met. He fully expected that I would accept his explanation and understand that there was no need to share the gospel with him. Second, this man showed the high value placed on the group in Asian culture. Family harmony is expected to trump individual concerns. Third, he showed the respect for elders deeply ingrained in local culture. Finally, this young man correctly understood that belief in Christ means separation from idolatry and superstitious practices.

What then can I do in these few minutes of opportunity? I can pray. I can thank the young man for his honesty. I can agree that belief in Christ does indeed change how you live your subsequent life. However, I cannot affirm that he is safe without Christ in the arms of the false goddess of mercy. I must not leave him without gently challenging his thinking that decisions regarding his eternal soul can be made by others. God holds each person accountable.

Smiling, I handed him a gospel tract and challenged him to consider the gospel for himself. I told him of God’s love for him as an individual. When he noted the church address on the back of the tract, I invited him to join us on Sunday. Odds are this young man will disappear among the millions of Asia, and I will never see him again. This happens often. I can only hope that God will grow that tiny seed of truth planted in a mobile phone shop.

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