Power of the Gospel
Aug 11, 2021 | 3 min read | Dave Patty
The roots of Josiah Venture go back further than you think.
In 1945, a sailor wandering through the streets of Chicago saw a hand painted sign that said, “Servicemen’s Center—Free Food.” Not one to pass up such an appealing offer, he stepped in the door, took a plate, and headed for a quiet corner where he could eat his unexpected meal in peace.
One of the staff saw him sitting by himself, took a seat opposite him, and introduced himself.
After learning the sailor’s name he asked, “Dick, are you a Christian?”
“Well, yes,” Dick answered slowly, “Of course I am. I’m an American.”
“So, if you were to die tonight, are you sure you would go to heaven?” There was a longer pause.
“Well, I hope so,” Dick answered, “I try to be good.”
“You can’t be good enough,” the persistent stranger replied.
He then took out a piece of paper and wrote Dick’s name on the bottom and the word “God” at the top. Next, he drew a large black cloud between Dick and God with a pencil and added the label “Sin.” Turning his pencil over, he took the eraser and opened a path through the dark cloud in the shape of a cross.
“Only the work of Christ on the cross can overcome the power of sin,” he shared, “and only those who accept Christ’s free gift in faith can have peace with God and know they are going to heaven.”
Dick was too shy to give much indication that he had understood. But he went back home to his barracks that night and put his faith in Christ. A few weeks later, he joined a Bible study on his base. Within a year he had enrolled in Bible college. Dick went on to start a mission organization to reach military members with the gospel and lead many to faith in Jesus.
I am one of those many. Dick is my hero. He is also my dad. Last week, at 95 years of age, God took him to heaven. He mentored me in missions since I took my first overseas trip with him at 12 years of age. I miss him like crazy.
This week, I keep thinking about the persistent stranger and how he never knew the impact of his faithful proclamation of the gospel. Confidence in the power of the gospel is what motivates the entire Josiah Venture team to share the good news with thousands of young people in Central and Eastern Europe. You are making that possible through your gifts and prayers. Like that stranger, you may not realize until heaven how your faithfulness is changing the course of eternity.
I’m glad the stranger knows now. I think my dad has already thanked him.
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