|The FISHERS 50th Anniversary|
Please Don't Cancel the Subscription!
One bright and sunny morning (when I was still working as a full-time staff at The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship many years ago), I was in the church office alone trying very hard to finish an article for the Fishers magazine. Beating the deadline has always been an editor's nightmare and in moments like these, my only wish was that my thoughts would not be interrupted by any telephone call or unexpected visitor to the church office.
"Ring, ring, ring..." The silence in the room was broken, and so were my thoughts.
Reluctantly I picked up the phone, "Good morning! The 'Fisherman of Christ' Fellowship, Dixie speaking. May I help you?" I tried to keep my voice as pleasant as I could.
"Hello, my name is Ted. I am calling from my office concerning the ten copies of Fishers you have been sending to this address. Will you stop sending them here in future? The person in charge of this magazine has left us and I can't be bothered to take care of these booklets for him!"
As his voice was harsh and unfriendly, I did not ask any further questions but proceeded with his request, "Please quote the subscriber number and the name of your organisation and I shall cancel the subscription for you immediately." He gave me the number and the name of the organisation.
I thought that was all that he wanted to do but as I was about to put down the receiver, Ted said, "By the way, may I ask you a question?"
"Sure," I replied. "There goes my next half-an-hour or so," I thought to myself.
"Why are you sending Fishers free of charge to people and what is this magazine all about?"
"Our magazine introduces Christ to those who like to know something about our faith and imparts Christian doctrines and teachings to believers. By the way, are you a Christian?"
"No, I am a free thinker. To tell you the truth, I am contemplating suicide at this moment."
On hearing this alarming remark, I held the receiver closer to my ear and tried to find out more about his problem. In a very sincere and serious tone, I asked, "Ted, why are you thinking of doing such a thing? Don't you have anyone whom you can talk things over with?"
"No. No one can understand me. Life is so meaningless and disappointing; I just want to end my life because no one cares about me."
"That's not true, Ted. God cares about you and He loves you. The only problem is that you don't realise it. I really would like to introduce this wonderful God to you."
"Well, I am listening."
"He is the Creator, Sustainer and Keeper of the Universe. We are created by Him and we can only live a fulfilling life when we are doing His will and are worshipping Him each day of our lives. But the sinful nature in us has prevented us from doing what we ought to do; it causes us to become God's enemies, fighting against everything good and pleasing in His sight. In other words, our sin has separated us from the God who created us. Unless we find a solution to our sins, we will never be able to return to God again."
"Where can we find the answer then? Can we do good works so that God would not look at our sins?" Ted asked anxiously.
I knew he was listening and was sincere in wanting to know something about the God I am talking about. So I continued, "No, our good works are never good enough in God's sight because His standard is far too high for us. God never asks us to do anything to redeem ourselves from our sins. He has already prepared a way for us to be saved from our sins and eternal punishment in Hell."
"Please tell me about it, I really would like to go back to God."
"God Himself came to the world to live as a man just like you and me except that He lived a perfect life without sin. Have you heard of the name Jesus Christ?"
"I vaguely remember hearing about it but I have no idea who He is," Ted confessed.
"He is the Son of God who came to the world to reveal God to us. Throughout His 33 years on earth, though He was tempted in every way, He never sinned and He gave up His perfect life to die on the cross for sinners. Three days after His death He was resurrected and later ascended into Heaven to be with God." I tried to explain the Gospel to him as clearly as I could.
"But what has His death got to do with me then?"
"We are all sinners and we have to die for our sins. But when Jesus died on the cross He paid the penalty of sin for us: the holy God died for sinful men. His death would have nothing to do with you if you are not willing to repent from your sins and receive Jesus as your personal Saviour. If you want to be saved from eternal death in Hell, you must place your faith in Him and trust that He can deliver you from the judgment of God. Would you like to consider believing in Jesus then?"
"Well Dixie, all the things you have been telling me sounds wonderful and new to me. I really cannot decide in such a short time. Do you write about this salvation and Jesus Christ in your magazine?" He sounded so different and humble that I believed God was already working in his heart.
"Yes, that is one of the purposes of publishing our magazine."
"In that case, please don't cancel the subscription. I want to read all the articles and find the meaning for living."
"Praise the Lord! I hope to hear from you again."
"Sure. Remember, don't cancel the subscription! I am going to read your magazine now! Thanks very much, Dixie."
After I finally put down the receiver, I was too overwhelmed to continue with my writing so I closed my eyes to pray for this stranger who called himself Ted and asked the Lord to open his spiritual eyes to see the truth, and for the truth to set him free from his meaningless life.
As I sat pondering what had happened in the past half-an-hour, the Word of God came alive to me,
"Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person" (Col 4:6).
It was indeed the Lord's grace that I was able to keep my impatience under control or else I would have lost an opportunity to speak for Him. I was again reminded that I should always be available to witness for God no matter how busy or tired I may be.
This article was first published in Fishers Issue 200.