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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

The Battle for Unsaved Loved Ones

By Michael H. Clarensau
Aug. 4, 2013

He’s standing! The sudden surge of joy caught me off guard. Tears charted their own course as the remarkable scene made a deep imprint on my soul. My grandfather is standing — standing to receive Christ as his Savior.

The morning had started like many previous Sundays. A few dozen people filed into the sanctuary, taking their customary places as the Sunday School teacher prepared to assume the small podium. I glanced around, meeting pleasant smiles, my role as guest speaker growing evident. My wife and two sons sat beside me.

Class announcements had just begun when two forms appeared in the doorway. My wife squeezed my hand as we shared a silent celebration — my grandparents had come. The pastor led them toward our front pew.

Some 20 years had passed since my grandmother received Christ. It had been my mother’s joy to lead her mother to the Lord.

My grandfather settled uncomfortably in the pew. This was not his arena. Through his 79 years, churches had been for weddings, funerals, and other necessary occasions. I marveled that he would risk such discomfort just to hear his grandson preach.

An hour later I joined the pastor on the platform for the time of worship. I smiled as my boys adjusted their seating so each could nestle against their great-grandfather. Somehow they seemed to understand this moment’s significance. For more than 30 years my mother had prayed for her father.

I finished the message and extended the opportunity for all to know the Christ I had preached.


That’s when it happened. I lifted my eyes to scan the crowd when I saw him. My grandfather was standing. Pews that had rarely held him held him no longer. Flanked by two smiling boys, he looked at me with eyes that blended determination and desperation. I led him in the sinner’s prayer.

Nearly every Christian comprehends the pain of friends or family members away from God. Few congregational prayers omit the yearning for unsaved loved ones. Some call the names of children raised with God’s Word but living by a different path. Others plead for a spouse who cares little for God. Still others name friends who need Christ and cringe at the thought of spending eternity apart from them.

Many scan the Scriptures in search of a promise or guarantee of the answer they seek. Others diligently copy passages they will share at the right opportunity. Somehow, some way, victory must be achieved.

We all want the experience of the nobleman in John 4:53. His encounter with Christ’s power caused his entire family to be saved. And, what joy must have filled Lydia’s heart at the salvation of her household (Acts 16:15). Many of us would stand with the Philippian jailer at the point of death to know his joy of watching his entire household accept Christ (Acts 16:33). If it were up to us, we would surely join Joshua in proclaiming the allegiance of our entire family to God (Joshua 24:15). Still, some of our lambs remain far from the fold.

How does the Bible counsel us on this critical issue? Certainly we will not find a one-size-fits-all strategy for such evangelism. Yet, our concerns were far from foreign to many Bible characters. Somewhere in the midst of their experiences and teachings we can find guidance and hope.

Step 1: Pray.

Every hunger for spiritual blessing must have prayer at its core. Boundaries melt away when we communicate with the One who knows no limitations.

The Bible teaches us that the key to successful prayer is our connection to the will of God. The leper’s cry, “If it be your will,” moved the Savior (see Mark 1:40). How marvelous to realize that the will of God for the unsaved is clearly carved for all to see: He is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Step 2: Witness.

This word captures the essence of biblical evangelism. Witnessing is not theological salesmanship. It is not the ability to define your beliefs and share them with others. To witness is to tell others what you’ve experienced.

Jesus healed a demon-possessed man and told him to go and tell his family what God had done for him (Luke 8:39). The woman at the well did the same after her encounter with the One who “told me everything I had ever done” (John 4:29,30). Jesus’ parting command (Acts 1:8) calls us to do the same — be witnesses.

Step 3: Love.

It is not our ability to live flawlessly that draws people to God, but our ability to love. This missing element in most around us shines like a flashing traffic signal in the lives of those we meet. Everyone wants to stop and be around someone who loves. Paul told us this love has been poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5), while John claims it to be the distinguishing mark of Christ in us (1 John 4:7).

Step 4: Wait.

The experience we desire for our loved ones is one of revolutionary life change. Premature commitments born of our impatience will only bring greater heartache. Like the Prodigal’s father, we must wait for the one we love to “come to his senses” (Luke 15:17).

Each of us must face crisis in order to willingly abandon the old life for the new. While this may be the most painful of moments, heaven will be filled with those who turned to Christ in the midst of agony.

The final step: Trust.

How marvelous to know that the Maker of life is on our side in this issue. God has repeatedly proved himself as capable of our “impossibles.” Trust Him. Do no let go of the hope that is in you.

Every salvation is a clear miracle — as great as the miracle you now await. Yours may be the salvation of a 79-year-old grandfather or of the infant God has given you to love. Above all else, He is the God who saves.

MICHAEL H. CLARENSAU is senior director of the Assemblies of God’s Healthy Church Network. Excerpted from the Aug. 10, 1997, Pentecostal Evangel.

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