I had just finished performing an afternoon program at Moore Haven Correctional Institution. An inmate approached me. He had a black patch over his right eye. He shook my hand and said, “My name is David, but the guys in here just call me Patch.”
He went on to say how much he enjoyed my songs. As he spoke, I reached into my back pocket for the little booklet I’d been trained to use when leading people to Christ.
When I saw an opening in the conversation, I started in on my trained presentation. Immediately he stopped me and said he had already gone through that booklet with another ministry team member that morning.
“Could we just talk a little?” he asked.
I put the booklet back in my pocket, and Patch began to tell me how he had studied theology at a well-known Christian college and had worked in ministry for several years.
“I know all the lingo you guys use—I’ve even used it myself, but it never meant anything to me, personally. I never really got it. You see, I’m one of those intellectuals who believes if I can’t see it or touch it, it’s just not real.” He paused, then said quietly, “I wanted to believe and thought I did at one time, but it didn’t happen.”
As he spoke, I listened carefully for the Holy Spirit to give me a revelation for something to say to Patch that might break down his wall of resistance. It was tempting to grab my little booklet and just blurt out scriptures, but I didn’t. Instead, I decided to remain silent while I waited to hear from God.
I didn’t have to wait long.
Suddenly, a picture flashed in my mind of a beautiful wooden house. The only thing missing was a door. Off to the side, lying on the ground, was a door that appeared to have been discarded. Then I saw the reason why—it had a huge knothole right in the center.
In my vision, I saw Patch walk over to the door. He began to carve out the knothole. When he had finished removing it, he reached over and picked up a window that fit perfectly into the opening. He finished installing the window, and then he attached the door to the house. It was finished; the construction was complete.
I had no idea what the vision meant, but I said to him, “Patch, I believe God has shown me something I need to share with you.”
I told him what I had seen in my vision. He winced as if he’d been struck a blow. Tears welled up as he said, “I really need to think about that.” Then he thanked me and turned and walked away.
I didn’t push him any further because I knew that somehow, something I had told him struck a nerve in his soul. God had told him what he needed to hear in a way far beyond any practiced words I could have said.
Now I’m sure some trained soul winners might criticize me for how I handled that opportunity, but I believe there are times when the conventional approach should be set aside long enough to hear from God and meet the person with revelation. Whatever that vision meant, God had met Patch where he was and had spoken to him in a way that only Patch would understand.
By no means am I saying not to use scriptures. The Word of God is powerful and will not return void. Just be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, for He may prompt you to use a different approach. Look at the life and ministry of Jesus—He witnessed to every person in a different way. His message of salvation was always the same, but it was presented to each person in a different manner with revelation.
Too often we follow a trained pattern. Yes, that pattern can be effective, but it can also come across as lacking authenticity. It can make people feel like they’re just part of our agenda. The world doesn’t need to be our agenda; it needs the authentic love of God. It’s God’s love that changes people.
Jesus loved people. He had time for them. He didn’t go to them with an agenda, He went to them with love. And He always had a listening ear. He listened to His Father and spoke only what He heard Him say. John 12:49–50 tells us this clearly: “I don’t speak on my own authority,” Jesus said. “The Father who sent me has commanded me what to say and how to say it. I know his commands lead to eternal life; so I say whatever the Father tells me to say.” He also listened to those He ministered to and responded with revelation. We should, too.
Now, if you’re one of those “intellectuals” like Patch, let me challenge you. Don’t depend on what you can see or touch. Reach out in faith; you’ll get your answers. God will turn every knothole of doubt into a window of revelation. Give Him a chance to show you who He is.
Does this story strike a chord for you? Read the entire May 2018 issue here.
Written by Kenny Munds
Photo by Alexander Rumpel