This article was written by Joyce Jordan and published in “Uplook Magazine”, September 1998.
Stay away from the Christians!
This spring when I heard a message on the topic of praying for unbelievers, I couldn’t help remembering when I was the subject of someone’s prayers. When I came to the University of Kansas campus in the fall of 1974, there were two things that I promised myself:
- that I would never ever live in a dull small town like Lawrence, and
- that I would make a big effort to stay out of the way of the Bible belt “Jesus is the Way” type of people that I was sure were heavily populating this part of the country.
I was an average liberal Catholic teen from a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, and I hoped that I could pursue my degrees in Music Therapy and Music Education and get out of Lawrence as quickly as possible! Little did I realize at that point what was in store for me.
As a lonely freshman, 800 miles from home, I tried gravitating toward different groups in the dormitory or in my classes—hoping to find my niche. God reached out to me through Christian girls in the dormitory and in the music department, but I was irritated by the gospel message and the implication that I wasn’t “right with God.”
I need a defense
Pride was beginning its battle against conviction, and holding tightly. I became very uncomfortable in serious discussions, and decided that in order to “prove myself ” against all of these Bible thumpers, I would need to be familiar with the verses that would prove my theology, and demonstrate all roads lead to the same heaven.
I was amazed as I started reading through the Gospels – nothing was falling into place. I began to have doubts about whether God was really residing at the Catholic church, and started attending other churches with girls from my floor, figuring that I just needed to find the “right address” for everything to be OK. I felt increasingly burdened by the conviction of sin, but remained convinced that there was something that I could do to take care of the situation myself.
These crazy Christians
During my sophomore year, I began to settle in with a group of friends—nice kids to be around, if I could just put up with their crazy Bible beliefs. I kept trying new ways to “clean up my act” and take care of my burden, but nothing was successful. One fellow finally got fed up with my life of straddling a spiritual fence.
He encouraged me to read through the Gospel of John that weekend and make one of two decisions: Either get saved and live a spirit-filled life, or reject Christ and start running around like a genuine unbeliever. (In retrospect, that seems like a pretty crazy thing to tell a person!)
I accepted the challenge, and knew before I got to the end of John what my decision would be. I received Christ as my Saviour on March 9, 1976, and I was amazed at the peace, joy, and understanding that were suddenly mine!
A shocking revelation
Several weeks later, I was sitting in the music building talking with a Christian friend. We had our Bibles out and were doing some type of study together. A girl walked up to us that I recalled having seen in a class my first semester – someone that I never knew.
In fact, I can’t even remember her name. I had known that she was a “Bible type person,” and so had done my best to avoid her. She inquired about what we were doing, and I took the opportunity to tell her about my recent salvation. Tears came to her eyes as she listened, and then she spoke.
“You’re never going to believe this,” she began. “When I came to KU that first semester, I felt burdened to pick one person from each class that I was in, to start praying for. I didn’t have any special criteria—I just asked the Lord to show me the neediest person in each class.
Well, the person that I picked out of Harmony I class was you, and I’ve been praying for you for a year-and-a-half. About three weeks ago, I felt a terrific peace about you, and knew that I could stop praying for your salvation. I’ve been looking for you since then, hoping to find you and hear what happened.”
Praying for me?
I was astonished! Someone who never had said two words to me previously had been praying for me during that time of searching and unrest? I must admit that pride got in the way as I wondered what made me appear to be the neediest person in the class—I could think of some others from the group who would have appeared on the outside to be in worse shape than I.
However, I knew that God sees hearts, and had put my name on her list. She was dropping out of school to take a job, and was so relieved to know that something eternal had come of her prayer list.
Is anyone beyond salvation? Never! So much for my second promise to myself. As for the first, God took care of that ultimatum as well. Aside from a year in Chicago, my address has been Lawrence, Kansas ever since I graduated.
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