Posted by: Omar C. Garcia | January 9, 2009

Are You Troubled?

   While in Ukraine in 1995, our team was invited to a meeting of a cultural society that met regularly to discuss philosophical and political issues. After our team was introduced, an elderly woman cleared her throat and then tearfully said, “For years we have not been allowed to know about God. Our lives are empty. I want to know,” she emphatically continued, “how I can find God. Can you tell me the way to God?” The earnest tone of her voice revealed the hope of a heart longing for answers. I sat silently as I listened to this woman who had lived a lifetime without God and watched as her question finally intersected with God’s answer.

   All eyes in the room turned to the late Dr. Rudy Hernandez, my mentor and our team leader. Dr. Hernandez stood, fixed his attention on the woman, and replied, “As we have traveled around your city we have noticed many beautiful cathedrals — evidence that there once was a strong faith in God among the people of your city.” Dr Hernandez then respectfully explained how sinful man can be reconciled to a holy God — and almost all of those present placed their faith in Jesus Christ. Afterwards, the director of the society said, “I have had so many problems in my life and no peace. Today, for the first time, I have found peace and meaning through Jesus Christ.”

   Watching Dr. Hernandez compassionately present the gospel in that setting reminded me of Luke’s account of the Apostle Paul’s visit to Athens (Acts 17:16-34). This ancient city, named for Athene, the goddess of wisdom, had been the home of men such as Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle. While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy to join him there, his spirit was deeply troubled within him because the city was lined with idols. In fact, one ancient historian satirically remarked that in Athens it was easier to find a god than a man. Like Paul, Dr. Hernandez always looked for clues that would help him to better understand the spiritual context in which people live. On more than one occasion, I sensed his spirit was deeply troubled within him as he grieved and wept over the spiritual welfare of the cities we visited.

   It is so easy for us to live among the idols of our own age without ever being troubled or stirred to act. Paul was stirred to action by what he saw. Following his usual pattern when he visited a new city, Paul reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and God-fearing Gentiles. However, during his time in Athens, Paul also spent his days in the place where people mixed and mingled and shopped for their daily needs — the agora or central marketplace. He did not wait for people to come to the holy place but instead took the gospel to the marketplace. We too, must take the good news to people in the places where daily life is lived.

   Paul had learned about the spiritual state of the Athenians by walking around the city and observing the objects of their worship. We too, must be observant and knowledgeable about what others believe in order to more effectively communicate the gospel. Paul had noticed an altar with this interesting inscription: To An Unknown God. For fear of offending some deity with which they were not acquainted, the Athenians had built an altar to something unknown. Paul used the inscription on this altar to build a bridge between their ignorance and the self-revealed God of the Bible.

   When was the last time you looked carefully at your community and at the lives of those who reside there? In what ways is your community similar to Athens? What idols do the people around you worship? What questions are they asking about spiritual matters? Are you deeply troubled by what you see and what you hear — or are you ignorant, indifferent, complacent, or tolerant? God uses people who are deeply troubled. What troubles you and what you are willing to do about it? Take bold steps and actively engage with others for the sake of God’s kingdom.

• • • • •

Note | Ruben Hernandez continues his late father’s work with particular emphasis in Spanish, English, bilingual and multi-ethnic communities and areas. Learn more about his ministry at Rudy Hernandez Evangelism International.


Responses

  1. I have sent an email to Rudy H. ministries. I have found their contact in bottom of your message.

    Mortuza


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