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Hello everyone! What are some of your favorite things to do on Sabbath? I like to watch nature shows, listen to music, and read! :)

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Our Mess Is Our Message

by Kimberley Tagert-Paul

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues” (Matthew 10:16, 17, NIV).*
His name is Mike. He is young and eager. He just married and is coming to grips with life. He found out how expensive it is to support a wife and himself. He should have waited to enter the adult world fully, but he was running away. From whom?

The real answer is God.

You see, Mike is the son of a pastor, a Pentecostal pastor. He was raised to believe in God. Somewhere along his journey he decided his way was better, so he left home, fell in love, and started a relationship he was not prepared for emotionally, financially, or spiritually.

We met Mike on our vacation. We had wandered like sheep into the visitors’ center of the area we were in to ask about zip-lining. We wanted more than just a kiddie ride. Mike was glad to show us the best one, and, although we didn’t know it, he had the power to give us a “buy one/ get one free” trip down its two-hour guided lines. Perfect!

In the visitors’ center the wolves sell time shares (vacation condo rentals). Although we had entered as sheep among the wolves, my husband couldn’t be talked into it until he realized how much it would help this desperate young man. It was only after accepting that Mike opened up and told us more of his story. We knew he was telling the truth because at this point he had nothing to gain. We had already taken the bait—hook, line, and sinker.

Mike and his wife were struggling so much that his truck sat outside the center with no license plate. They couldn’t afford the tags. We had only been in the center for a few minutes before he asked us if we needed help. When we noticed the cross he wore, we told him that we too were Christians. He almost cried.

“What church do you go to?” Mike asked, looking at us with a sad smile.

“We are Seventh-day Adventist Christians,” my husband replied.

Mike looked at us blankly, then shook his head. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of that group. What do you believe?”

We told him the basics in an abbreviated manner, emphasizing that we believed in the Son of God and His free gift of salvation. Mike began to shake.

“I do too. I want to get back to church. I miss it so much, but I have to work all the time.” Mike looked over to make sure his boss wasn’t listening. “I pray all the time. Do you think God still listens to me?”

We assured him that God loved him very much and was doing everything He could to woo him back. We told him never to give up, because God wasn’t giving up on him. Mike’s smile almost broke my heart. He had hope for the first time in a long time. All because God chose to use two vacationers who thought they were only on vacation.

Unlike people, God doesn’t go on vacation. We should not think we are only on vacation, either. Everywhere we go we can carry the gospel with us. During the first two days of our trip we had the chance to witness to Mike, to a woman looking for something good to read at a flea market who ended up buying her first Christian novel at my recommendation, and to a Hindu who thanked us over and over for our faithful witness. He now sees God in a different way.
If God can use my mess to tell His message, He can use yours, too!

You just have to be willing. Put aside your fear. God can deal with that. Get up and stop being lazy about it. God will use you, but you have to go. Are you afraid you will look foolish? Guess what, to some you just may! But that’s OK. You know your Father! He is a king! If you know the truth, and it has set you free, then you have something worth sharing. You have the ability to transform a life—yes, you!

I’m not saying you should go out and shout it from the rooftops. You may feel like doing that, but it’s probably not going to win anybody over . . . and you just may fall off the roof.

God wants us to be ready and willing. He will nudge you if you make yourself open to His Spirit. He will even give you the words you will need. He knows the heart, the background, and the culture of the person He has placed before you. He knows the best way to reach them.

Too often we act like bowling balls, rolling forward with God as if it is our duty to knock over as many pins (people) as we can. God doesn’t want us to do that. He wants us to show them His character of love and grace. And believe me, there are people out there who are just hungering for the truth, people hurting so much that they can’t take it anymore and don’t know where to turn. But you do!

So where do you start? What is your testimony? Where does it start and where is it going? When did you first meet God? Write it down. Remember, your testimony is to honor God, not you. Keep working on it with much prayer until you get it to the place you believe God is leading you to.

Sharing where you have been and where you are growing can help to build relational bridges that will help others be open to the gospel.  When they know you aren’t perfect, and none of us are, they will be much more willing to consider what you have to say.

Paul shared his testimony with three different groups in Acts. Look it up in Acts 9, 22, and 26. Notice that his testimony was different with each group. Why? Because each one was different somehow, either in culture, education, or experience. Paul told his remarkable story each time but in a way that would best help his listeners. He didn’t water down the gospel, he shared it freely and fully using God’s wisdom and Spirit. Guess what? That’s available to you, too!

Mike took my business card and asked us to keep him and his wife in prayer. He promised to keep in touch. I think he will. We stopped back in with a card reminding Mike of God’s love, and put in it the money we had received from sitting with the “wolves” and listening to the condo rental pitch. We figured if we were the first Seventh-day Adventists that Mike met, we needed to tangibly show him God’s love in a way that would leave no doubts.

There are a bunch of Mikes out there. They need your encouragement and testimony. You may meet them at school, on the sidewalk, at the store, or just maybe on your dream vacation!

* Scripture quotations credited to NIV are from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Kimberley Tagert-Paul is a freelance writer from Muskegon, Michigan. Her latest book is Face Time: Answers to Teens’ Toughest Questions.

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