A witness spectator
January 22, 2018 at 6:00 AM
Patty Gonzalez talks to PMT Henry Doorn during a home visit with Daniel, a young man impacted by the VAM ministry. (Photo by Nathan Stob)
A witness spectator
By Dan Breen
You’ve probably heard the line about (insert activity here) not being a “spectator sport.”
As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn’t consider witnessing to others about the love and grace of Christ as a spectator sport.
Recently, though, I learned it can be.
Last October I was visiting Dr. Jose Luis Guerrero and the Vida en Abundancia de Mexico ministry in Jalapa. The itinerary for one of our last afternoons called for VAM employee Patty Gonzalez to escort me to the homes of several families who have been positively impacted by VAM’s ministry.
VAM’s physical building was constructed atop a steep hill. Anywhere you walk is downhill. Unfortunately, whatever goes down, must also go back up. As we were making the hike back up a large alleyway of steps, we were met by a middle-aged man hunched over and moaning. It didn’t take an advanced degree to realize we had encountered a deeply troubled man who was visibly inebriated.
Part of me really wanted to be the Good Samaritan, but my practical side was more than inclined to be the priest or Levite.
Strangely, in that moment, I could do neither. I was like Paul and Timothy when they tried to enter Bithynia in Acts 16 — “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.” It was almost as if God was telling me, “Whoa, big boy, this isn’t your moment.”
Instead, I stood and watched as Patty engaged this man in conversation. He was hysterical as he lamented his inability to kick his drug and alcohol addiction. Over and over he claimed he had no hope.
I wanted to help, but the Lord’s great and more perfect plan was to use Patty. Calmly, she reassured him of the love of Jesus, praying over him and offering to get him help. I felt a sense of helplessness. All I could do was put my hand on his shoulder in support and hold my umbrella over him as the raindrops fell. I was a spectator.
Sometimes God uses us to be an active part of his plan; other times he’s gracious enough to give us a front-row seat to watch it unfold. It was a joy for me to watch Patty boldly live out her faith by pouring out love and support on a struggling brother in a way I could not do myself.
Looking back, I wonder if this wasn’t God’s way of providing a training grounds for me. Maybe Patty was sent just as much for me as for the struggling man – to become an indelible example of love, compassion and grace — knowing that next time, God might be saying, “This is your moment.”
May the Lord prepare us with bold hearts to proclaim His love, grace and salvation when our time comes.