It’s not uncommon for new Christians, when worldly cares creep into their lives, to drift away from their walk with the Lord. This is what had happened to Zuni, a young mother of three, who after taking two jobs, stopped coming to our meetings.
I was making my way around the neighborhood that day to visit her and some of the other new believers in our group. But I didn’t find Zuni home that day. Instead, I found her 14-year-old sister-in-law babysitting the kids.
As is the custom in Paraguay, I clapped my hands to announce my presence at the small, ramshackle house that stood only a few feet from the street. This teenaged girl, who was working in the open kitchen area in the front of the house, looked up with a terrified expression. For a moment I wondered if I really looked that scary.
I could only see the left half of the young teen’s small body. The other half, which was concealed behind a wall, just stood there seemingly frozen. I smiled. She didn’t move. I said, “Hola” (hi). She didn’t move. I spoke to the children that played at her feet and they smiled a hello back at me. She still didn’t move. I thought, “I’d better get to the point before this poor girl dies of fear!”
So, I asked if Zuni was home. Finally, she shook her head so slightly I could barely detect it. I introduced myself and asked her to let Zuni know I had come by to visit. Again, she moved her head only slightly, this time in an up and down motion. She had yet to move one inch from where she stood, or utter a single word. I said goodbye, thus concluding my first meeting with Marielsa.
I continued to see Marielsa each time I would visit Zuni. With each visit, she became more vocal and more mobile. After a while she and I would have what could be considered more normal conversations. Sometimes Zuni would be home and I would try to encourage her to continue walking with the Lord. When Zuni wasn’t home, I would spend a few minutes visiting with Marielsa hoping to gain her trust and an opportunity to share the Gospel. By this time, she seemed to appreciate and look forward to my visits.
One Sunday morning, as we prepared for our Believer’s Meeting, I looked up to see Zuni’s children walking through the door. But it was not their mother that led them. It was shy, little Marielsa. I can’t imagine what it had taken for her to brave coming into the North American’s house that day. Something much stronger than her fears had broken through all her timidity and caused her to be willing to come to our house. I believe it was the Holy Spirit. We had, after all, been praying that somehow we would be able to reach this timid, young teen with the Gospel.
Marielsa seemed to enjoy that first meeting and came back week after week. Since we are meeting as a local assembly of called out believer’s, all of our people are saved. As far as we knew Marielsa had never been saved and much of what she was hearing she obviously didn’t understand.
One day after our meeting, I told Marielsa that she was welcome to come by the house any time to talk about what salvation means. She smiled and nodded and then left for home.
Later that afternoon, Marielsa came back to our house. She wanted to know how to be saved from an eternity in Hell! I spent a couple of hours going over Scripture and explaining how we are all lost and in need of a Savior. I explained how God provided our salvation through the death of His own Son.
Understanding the Gospel did not come easy for Marielsa because of the many wrong ideas she had been taught growing up. I took each wrong idea one-by-one and showed her how the teachings were contrary to God’s Word. We talked about God’s loving ways and how different He was from the way she had been led to believe.
Then, we talked about all the consequences that could come about if she got saved. One being that her religious family would probably reject her. Two hours later, I finished by telling Marielsa that the decision was hers. None of us would or could force her to trust Jesus as her Savior.
Her face fell, as she said, “My family will not like it if I get saved.” She paused pensively and said, “But I want to accept Jesus as my Savior.”
Marielsa had counted the cost and knew the consequences. But, she also knew the consequences of remaining lost and made the right choice. She bowed her head and in her own words asked Jesus to become her Savior!
I gave her a Bible and in the front we wrote the day’s date. It would be a date to remember; the day she made the best and most important decision of her entire life. Now, we are excited about teaching Marielsa more about her Heavenly Father and her wonderful life ahead.