In Come Follow Me - HDTS Blog

By Sanal Thomas

In India, on Christmas Day of 2007, my wife, Minal, and I were out riding our motorcycle. As we were coming down a hill, I looked into the ditch and saw what looked like a burned piece of timber sticking out of it. I kept riding. Later, I felt a voice in me telling me I should go back. I told Minal, “My heart is bursting out of me. I feel what I saw wasn’t just a charred piece of wood.”

We went back and saw that the “burned piece of timber” was in fact, a person’s leg. I got off of my motorcycle and looked into the ditch, seeing a man, naked, face-down. I thought he was dead. In India it’s best not to deal with dead bodies, to avoid trouble. But I felt like I should go into the ditch and get the man out. I climbed down into the ditch and took the man out, and to my horror, as he lay in my lap, I saw that his eyes had been eaten by ants. I cried out, not knowing what to do. Immediately, I heard a noise coming from the man. He was not dead – he was unconscious. By this time, people had started to gather. Someone informed me that this man had been in the ditch for three or four days, and no one had done anything. The gathering crowd asked who I was, what I was doing. I sent someone to get some water and some clothes. I saw myself removing my t-shirt and clothing him with my own clothes. I opened the man’s mouth and, as I poured some water down his throat, I could hear that water travel through his mouth into his stomach, which gurgled.

The people who had gathered asked why I was doing this. I didn’t know myself what I was doing. I knew the man was alive but he couldn’t respond to me. He was in a vegetative state – only just alive. He was in my lap, and I was praying for him – for healing – but then I started praying on his behalf and repenting on his behalf. I said, “God, I want him to be where you want him to be.” I didn’t want him to die in the ditch.

The police came and they refused to do anything. Finally after hours of my protesting, an ambulance came. The man was taken to the hospital. It was Christmas Day, and it struck me that on that day, we remember that Jesus was born to give us dignity, and here was this man in the ditch without any dignity. Jesus went on the cross, naked, to pay for our sin, so we can be clothed with His righteousness. What I saw in that man in the ditch was the very reason Jesus came – to cover us and give us dignity. The Gospel came alive at that moment for Minal and I. What would Jesus do? I think He came to cover us on different levels.

The man was taken to the hospital and he died in that hospital bed, but he was covered, clothed, in a bed – he didn’t die in a ditch. Since that moment in my life, something changed within me – something changed in how I thought about the lost. Every time I think about these events, it reminds me of Luke 15 when Jesus goes after the lost. Jesus describes how the man with a hundred sheep, went out to find the lost one. When he found it, he put the lamb on His shoulders, and carried it home. I didn’t know what I was doing at that time, but now I can look back and see the power of the gospel in my interactions with the man in the ditch. People around me told me not to bother – not to get into trouble. Many in the crowd believed that this man deserved this – that he may have done something in his past life to deserve dying naked in a ditch. All I could do was pray on his behalf as I heard these things in the background.

God did something in my heart that day for the lost. Maybe this is what it took for Minal and I to come alive to the meaning of the gospel, and to take steps towards evangelism and becoming more vocal about sharing the gospel.

Evangelism is simply hearing God’s voice. It’s not working with a formula. Every individual is different and God wants to meet each person with a message for that individual. Every time I’ve tried to use a formula, it hasn’t worked, because using a formula loses the beauty of God’s desire to share the news in a way that is specific to each person. Every time I share the gospel now, I understand I will need to listen to God’s voice; it will be fresh and it will be awkward. In the book of John, we hear Jesus say that He is sending us as the Father sent Him. Jesus came to reveal the Father. For me, evangelism is about revealing the Father to those who are lost. Humanity is fatherless, and Jesus has come to reconcile humanity to our wonderful Father. This is the Gospel.

I want to encourage people to know that I was just a normal shy kid. It takes God to get your spirit to come alive to the truth. It is the truth that set me free to preach the gospel. You may not think evangelism is a priority for you because of your specific giftings. But I encourage people not to put themselves in a box because of their giftings, but to ask God to use them regardless of their weaknesses and strengths. God’s strength becomes dominant in our weaknesses. Go out and share, and trust in God’s strength. God loves those who say, “I don’t have what it takes, but I trust in you, and I’m stepping out.” That’s a good start.

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