Save a Soul
James 5:19-20 NKJV
James’s final words to his Hebrew brothers and sisters living outside Jerusalem (and to those in Jerusalem) were among the best words in scripture that can help us to understand the importance of paying attention to the spiritual condition of another so we might help them.
Helping someone who needs God’s love and forgiveness is one of the greatest honors we are given.
When I was a teenager I was given a few opportunities to encourage another person to rely on God, but I was not equipped to help others come to God. I didn’t know how to watch and pray in a way that would help me help others. My dad had talked about it so I knew it was something God wanted me to do, but I hadn’t actually practiced it.
The first time an opportunity came to me, I was a young Pastor’s wife serving a small congregation in Northwest Missouri.
One day when I had lingered in church by myself after almost everyone left, I noticed a young girl still seated in the back of the church. I started praying for her. I wasn’t sure why she stayed, but I sensed she needed to speak with someone.
I don’t remember, but probably I stayed to clean up the mess my children made during church (well, my daughter was not the mess maker but we won’t linger on who probably made the mess). By the time I was done, I noticed we were the only people left. I went to her and got her name, thanked her for coming, and asked her if she lived in the area.
She said she did live around there but she didn’t go to church anywhere. I told her I was glad she came today. Without needing to be prompted, she opened up her heart and told me a bit about her story. She was several months pregnant and she was pretty young.
She said she didn’t know much about Jesus or church but she didn’t know where else to go.
I didn’t have to prompt her to say more. I listened to her story about not being married, getting pregnant, and facing the loneliness and shame of telling her parents what had happened. The year was 1983.
She said she had wanted to speak with the pastor but he left after church. I told her I could go get him because we lived in the parsonage next door, or she’d always be welcome to go down front after church and she could speak with him privately. I’ll never forget her next words.
She said, “I could never do that. I couldn’t bear telling the whole congregation all of my sins.”
I was shocked.
I told her I wouldn’t want to do that either.
I explained that she didn’t have to publicly confess her sins to the congregation. I explained it was a conversation between her and God.
She asked me how that worked.
I walked her through how she would talk to Jesus in her head and how she would tell Him she was sorry.
She asked me if I would sit with her while she prayed silently.
Oh my, yes!
She prayed that day and she cried. I told her how much Jesus loved her and that she could talk to Him anytime. I gave her a few scriptures she could read. If I would have had a Bible I would have given her one, but she said she could get one from a friend.
I invited her to come back, but I never saw her again.
In the last two verses of the book of James, he wrote, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
Even though I’ve never seen her again, 38 years ago I am grateful I had the opportunity to tell her how to ask Jesus to “come”. I have prayed for her since then…I know Jesus hears and answers my prayers.
That young woman was the first person I had the honor of helping her to know how much God loves her. I’ve prayed with many many children and people since and each time a flood of warm sunshine from the Spirit of God surrounds us with love. Leading someone to Jesus is one of the greatest honors of my life. I thank God for each opportunity and I look forward to many more opportunities.
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Tell
Ask God to open the doors for you to tell someone how much God loves them.
In God, Deborah