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On the Side - August 2014

New Christian
By Sharon Chatwell

It’s not often that you meet a new Christian: Not a brand new one, at least.  Most of the ones I’ve known have been young children.  But recently God deposited a little baby Christian into my life; and it was a surprise; just like if you were to find a little baby in a basket on your front doorstep.

This young woman (and I’m writing this with her permission) has had a terrible life.  I could describe it to you here, but I’m not writing a “made-for-TV drama.”  Suffice it to say that everyone who was supposed to take care of her during her lifetime has either abused or tormented her.  It’s really sad.

But in the past two years, she has come to saving faith in Christ, and she has done a lot to try and straighten out her life.  She started going to church where she met a friend of mine, and it is actually she who plopped this new baby Christian into my lap.  She brought her over one day saying something like, “You need help at home; she needs a job.  Congratulations!  It’s a girl!”

From then on Kristi has been in my life, and it seems that I have been treated to a front row seat watching the blossoming of a new Christian.

As every parent knows, it’s pretty easy to teach a young child about God.  You just do like God says in Deuteronomy 11:18-19:  “Teach (these words of mine) to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”  By teaching your children a little bit every day, they learn as you go along.  Between the examples we see in the world and the truth from God’s Word, the child learns a lot about God.

But what do you do when the new Christian is an adult, and has no working knowledge of God’s Word?   It seems it can be done almost the same way, but with one happy addition; an adult can read the Bible for herself!

Kristi began reading through the Bible a few months ago.  Someone had given her a Through-the-Year Bible, which had an assigned reading for each day; a rookie mistake, obviously.  Kristi took to the reading plan literally.  And since she was given the Bible sometime in March, she skipped over the whole Creation thing (as well as Noah and the Flood, and Exodus) and began reading somewhere in Leviticus.

When I first met her, she was slogging her way through Samuel and I Kings, trying to get all the names of the different kings correct.  I was pretty impressed.  I mean, how many devoted Bible scholars do you know who are trying to remember the names of the various kings of Israel?

But when we started talking about her life, and her Bible study, it became obvious that she didn’t know the basic teachings of Jesus.  I’d be talking to her about some great truth in the Bible, which affects our lives every day, and she’d look at me as if she had no idea what I was talking about.  Obviously, II Kings could wait a bit!

I told her that it was alright for her to put aside the daily reading plan for now and go directly to the New Testament.  “Start with Matthew,” I said wisely, “It’s first.”  (Isn’t she lucky, this girl; to have a Biblical scholar like me to advise her?)

Anyway, God is BIG!  And He can help her learn all about Him, despite my help.  In fact, the fun part of this whole process has been watching God teach Kristi all about Him.  She pours over her Bible (currently the New Testament … she’s up to Luke now) and the subsequent changes in her life have been quite remarkable!

I remember the day she came running in saying, “Sharon, do you know that Jesus says we should pray for our enemies?”  She thought this was a pretty good idea, although she admitted that with her history she has a long list of people to pray for.

It’s amazing to watch her dedication to applying God’s Word to her life, and to see the changes brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit, living inside of her. 

I am in awe.  God is so magnificent, so powerful, so real, so good, and so faithful.

This child of His, with whom I come in contact daily, is growing into the person He has created her to be.  And she is determined to try and live for Him.  It’s difficult for her at times.  Her past haunts her in more ways than one.  It disturbs her sleep.  It darkens her days.  But now she has hope as well.

“Keep walking in the light,” I tell her.  “It gets better.”  Our difficulties may not all go away, or they may change into different ones, but it is possible to bear them because God is there with us, and His promises never fail.

Kristi is learning all sorts of new things, and I find that so am I.

Recently God has taught me that He is to be praised not only for the changes that come over a person who has become a new Christian, but that He is also to be praised for the actual existence of the new Christian.

The same Creator who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts… (2 Cor. 4:6.)   And 2 Corinthians 5:17 says: “…if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
We are all brand new!

If God had created a new star and hung it in the heavens for all of us to see, it wouldn’t be a bigger miracle than the miracle of creating a new Christian.

So, whenever we come across a new Christian, it is right for us to praise God.  And, of course, we are in good company, because we know that there is rejoicing in Heaven as well.  Luke 15: 10 Jesus says: “In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”

It is definitely something to celebrate.  Besides, we never know what wonderful things God will do through this new creation of His.

For example:  Kristi came to me the other day and said, “I think maybe I had to go through all these things in my life, so that I can help other people with the same problems.”  Her dream is to be an inspirational speaker, and to tell others what God has done for her.

“Let’s start now, Kristi,” I told her.  And we wrote this article.

Sharon is a writer and a physician’s wife, who lives in Lincoln, Nebraska. Kristi comes over to her house almost every day and they learn about God together. They hope that this article blesses you and reminds you that you are a new creation in Christ. And that’s pretty special.

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