I am almost finished typing up the second notebook of "A Valiant Effort." After that, there is one more notebook left and then it is time to edit, edit, edit! Ideally, I will be able to finish the book by June 16, which will be the fourth anniversary of the end of my service. It is an anniversary that I have yet to celebrate officially. For one reason or another, plans have always fallen through. I think that one reason was that the memories were so painful that part of me just wanted to forget that it had ever happened. One benefit of writing this book is that I can finally deal with the hurt and move on.
I actually reached a rather humorous part of the novel that occurred in December of 2008. It is when I first met the missionary who founded the Baptist church that I went to. He told me about how he led one of the first members of his congregation to Christ. At first, he rushed him through the sinner's prayer and then, because of that man's compliance, assumed that he was saved. However, when he brought in the church member's wife to hear his testimony, he was shocked to discover that his "convert" still believed that he was going to heaven because he went to church, did good things, and was baptized. However, to this missionary's credit, he patiently took a different approach, leading the church member through a detailed Bible study showing mankind's need for a savior, as indicated by the human race's continued failure to obey God in the Old Testament. Then he taught him how Jesus's life, death, and resurrection in the gospels proved that He was the Savior that mankind needed. After recognizing from the scriptures that Christ was truly his only means of becoming reconciled to God, this church member finally accepted Jesus into his heart and was born again.
This really stuck out to me because, very often, people assume that they are saved just because they prayed in a particular fashion. Yes, prayer is the way to communicate with God and yes, salvation involves prayer. That being said, true repentance must come from the heart. A person who says the sinner's prayer, but does not place their trust in God in their heart, is not saved. They are just a church-going parrot. A true Christian doesn't use the sinner's prayer as a sanitized version of an abracadabra-esque magic incantation. A true Christian places their entire being into God's hands and it usually takes time to lead someone to this point. This is why, when it comes to leading people to Christ, haste makes waste.