One of my favorite memories of our two years at Grace Community Church was the new experience of hearing the testimonies of new converts who were being baptized. It was such a sweet time, so encouraging and refreshing. It was remarkable to me that so many of those being baptized were former Catholics. And I loved hearing how other members of the Grace Community had been so faithful to build relationships with these folks, diligently sharing the only truth that leads to salvation.
Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories (edited by Mark Gilbert) reminded me of those baptismal services. As each of the 11 stories unfolded, I couldn't wait to see how the Lord had intervened in each person's life. Each story is unique. Some were Catholic in name only; others remained Catholic for a time after being saved, leaving once they grew to see the extent of doctrinal error. Some were slowly drawn by the Lord in the course of everyday life; others became open due to traumatic events in their life or the life of a family member. These testimonies are diverse because people are diverse.
But most of these stories had something in common: the importance of the local Christian church. So many of these former Catholics found their way out of their comfort zone and into a healthy, gospel church. There they discovered two things: people who lived out Christ's love, and pastors who taught from God's Word.
I read this book to evaluate whether or not it would be a good book to pass along to Catholic friends at the right time (and it is that), but I found it challenging me, as well. How willing am I to invest time, energy, and genuine friendship in unbelievers who I encounter in my daily life? How prepared am I to listen, to get to know them, to serve them, to share the hope that they so desperate need? This is my challenge; this is our Lord's command.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person. (Colossians 4:5-6)
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