My good friends Frank and Lisa were manning a stall with various gospel books on display. They were also giving out tracts to those passing by. One man stopped, looked at the table, and exclaimed, “Oh, Christian stuff!? I’m an atheist!” My friends just smiled and struck up a conversation, without confronting him on that basis. They spoke about art (the man’s sister was an artist) and hiking, life, and the economy, and just generally tried to be encouraging and positive.
By and by, the man’s sister came out of a shop and stopped as well. He introduced Frank and Lisa, and told her, “These are Christian missionaries who do good work. So have a look at their stuff if you want. I’m not interested, of course, because I’m an atheist.”
Turning to Frank and Lisa, he mused, “I must say, though, I love the song ‘Amazing Grace.’ I can’t explain why, but when I hear it, I tear up.” As he spoke, his eyes brimmed with tears. He continued, “Then I watched the movie Amazing Grace, and it was just ... incredible.”
Their conversation continued for a few more minutes, when suddenly the atheist stopped midsentence and said, “You know what, I’m going to get one of your books! I’m going to get a Bible!” He picked one up off the table and said, “This one, I’ll take this one! I’m going to put it in my bag, and I’m going to read it!” He then looked over at his sister, who was standing by flabbergasted, and exclaimed, as if he couldn’t believe it himself, “Look at me, an atheist getting a Bible!” He chuckled to himself, took the Bible, and soon they both departed.
Needless to say, Frank and Lisa were in awe at how God works! Frank later told me, “If there was anyone—anyone—that I would have wanted that Bible to end up with, it would have been an atheist! Now God can work in his heart and help him fully experience that amazing grace!”
Hearing this story encouraged me that, first, we really must never judge a person based on immediate impressions, and secondly, that God’s Spirit is fully capable of influencing even the most wayward hearts. God promised that His Word never returns void (without effect); it always accomplishes the purpose for which He sends it.1 So that amazing interaction was perhaps just the beginning of an even greater life transformation in the future!
1. See Isaiah 55:11.