Written by Glyn Norman
I met John at the table-tennis club in 1985. He and I became friends quickly, and it wasn't long before I found out that he was a Christian. He asked what my religious background was, and I explained that I had been brought up as a Catholic, but was non-practicing now. And that's how it began. We started having conversations about faith, and he was patient and thoughtful in answering the questions I had... the usual ones concerning why he thought Christianity was the only way to God, why, if there was a good God, was there so much suffering in the world and so on.
We would sometimes finish playing, and then go back to his mum's house to continue the conversation further over tea and biscuits (as in "cookies", not "and gravy"). Finally, after a couple of months, he asked me to come to church with him. I resisted at first, but then I cracked and gave in (see picture above of the church). Driving to church that first Sunday I made a deal with God. It was something along the lines of "I will attend church for 4 weeks, and you have that period of time to convince me that you are real, otherwise I will be done with religion for the rest of my life."
I know better now, that this was a foolish wager to present to God. Over the course of four weeks the sermons spoke to me so specifically as the pastor faithfully preached God's word, and I was warmly welcomed into that community, even with all my questions, doubts and skepticism. At the end of the service in the fourth week, I had become convinced that not only was God real, but he knew me and cared about me. I asked John to introduce me to the pastor, who led me in a prayer of commitment to Christ.
When I think back on this, I consider myself to be an unlikely convert. I had tasted religion in the past and wasn't impressed. I was not really concerned with the fate of my soul. I was more interested in making money and dating pretty girls. And yet. Something (or more likely someone) prompted John to invite me to church. And it turned out that I was only ONE ASK AWAY from a totally different eternal destination. In fact, his simple request changed the direction of my whole life, in this world and the next.
How many of your neighbors or work colleagues are in the same boat? They may appear skeptical, uninterested, or pursuing other things, but how many are just ONE ASK AWAY from a Sunday that could change their whole life? We will never know until we ask. Surveys have shown that 80% or more of people say that they would go to church if someone they knew and trusted invited them.
This Easter we are praying for our services to be full. We have three services scheduled for 8am, 10am and 12pm. I would love it if we could have at least 750 adults in church on Easter Sunday. Who knows, God could blow away that expectation and bring even more. What I do know is this: that it depends on us. It depends on each of us doing our part - inviting - and allowing God to do his part - winning them over with his love and care for them.
Please start thinking and praying even now, for those you know, who may be only ONE ASK AWAY.