“I have heard of your Jesus,” the girl said. “I am Buddhist, and so is everyone else in my family. I once met a missionary who tried to convert me to your religion, but it sounded too complicated. I had too many questions that he couldn’t answer.”
Your Jesus! Your religion! I was always being met with this barrier. It was always “your religion” and “my religion.” Not only that, but these people whom I had grown to love seemed to delight in finding new ways to challenge me. It wasn’t that they didn’t care to listen to what I had to say—they listened patiently and respectfully—but I needed to find the key, some way of showing them that finding Jesus wasn’t complicated. Suddenly I had the same overwhelming desire that I often have when I meet someone new—the desire to show her that Jesus was not just a religion, that He was real, and that He loved her.
Then it dawned on me. Christmas! That’s it! Tell her the story of Christmas!
I invited her for a cup of coffee, and we went to a small café. There I told her the story of Jesus and how He came to earth to set an example of how to love one another. I also explained how His death on the cross made it possible for us to have eternal life. We must have talked for an hour or two. She’d ask a question, and I’d try to explain, using examples from the Bible and life. She listened, but still looked skeptical. It was clear that I wasn’t getting through.
It got late, and we both needed to get home. As we headed for the train station, her questions kept coming. She was sincerely searching for truth and open to hearing about Jesus. How could I make Him real to her?
It started raining, and she cried out, “Oh, no!”
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“I forgot my umbrella in the shop I was in before I met you. What am I to do? And it wasn’t even mine. I’d borrowed it.”
Without thinking I told her, “Here, take mine. I have another one at home.”
She looked surprised, but thanked me and took it.
We kept talking until we reached the train station, where I gave her a tract that spoke of Jesus’ love for her. “Think about our conversation,” I told her, “and if you decide that you’d like to accept Jesus into your life, all you need to do is pray the short prayer on the back of the tract.”
“We talked a lot today,” she said. “Thank you for listening to me and for patiently answering my questions. Thank you for telling me the story of Christmas and about Jesus. I felt sorry for wasting your time, as you still hadn’t convinced me. …”
Not surprising!I thought, as I had sensed how she felt.
“But now,” she went on, “I think I understand what you have been trying to tell me. You see, what convinced me was not what you said, but what you did.”
I couldn’t imagine what I could have done. We’d only sat and talked, then walked and talked some more. “What was that?” I asked.
“You gave me your umbrella. Without hesitation, without a second thought, you just gave it to me, a complete stranger until just a little while ago. If the gift you say Jesus wants to give me is even more powerful than what I felt when you gave me your umbrella, then I will definitely pray that prayer.”
My train arrived, and tears filled my eyes as we hugged. She looked happy. I was elated.
As I sat in the train going home, I realized that the barrier I had so often wondered about had actually come down 2000 years ago, when Jesus came to earth. He didn’t just talk about love, He showed love; He was love. It’s so simple, I thought. I gave her an umbrella, and that simple gesture opened her understanding to the fact that Jesus’ love is a gift.
“Lord,” I quietly prayed, “this Christmas and always, help me to follow closely in Your footsteps, so my actions will speak more loudly than my words.”