FIRST-PERSON: Ramesh & Jesus

VANCOUVER, Wash. (BP) -- I was tired from 16 hours of travel and hadn't been to bed in 30 hours, but a conversation with Ramesh was among the highlights of a recent mission trip to Asia.

Ramesh was our Uber driver who took us home from the airport in Portland, Ore. He lives in Vancouver, Wash., where our Northwest Baptist Convention offices are located. He lives 15 minutes from our home.

And he needs Jesus as much as anyone we met in Myanmar or Japan.

Ramesh was born in Fiji but has lived in the United States for 32 years. When I asked him about his life here, he said things weren't going well and he was considering changing his religion to see if a new religion would bring him a better life.

I asked what his religion was and he said he is a Hindu. "What new religion are you considering?" I asked.

Ramesh said he thought he might become a Christian. "How do you become a Christian?" I asked, to which he responded, "By getting baptized."

I told Ramesh that I am a Christian and asked if I could share what the Bible says about becoming a Christian. He welcomed my offer and I began by sharing John 3:16.

"Ramesh, according to the Scriptures, Christianity is different than religions," I then said. "Christianity is about coming to know Jesus Christ and inviting Him into your life." We discussed the Bible's teaching on sin, repentance and faith. We talked about the uniqueness of Jesus as the one who is fully God and fully man, truly the Lord of all.

After about 15 minutes we arrived at our house. I said, "Ramesh, would you like to pray right now and invite Jesus to come into your life as your Lord and Savior?" He said, "I want to think about it some more." I asked if he had any more questions. He didn't, and then I encouraged him to pray and ask God to speak to him. I gave him a card with my email and phone number and asked him to call me. I said, "I think God brought us together tonight Ramesh." Ramesh agreed. He even carried some of our bags into the house. I prayed for him and then he left.

It's been a few weeks and I haven't yet heard from Ramesh. But I've thought about him and have prayed for him. And, in a way, I think Ramesh was a reminder from God to me that I am surrounded by people who need Jesus right here in the Northwest. Like Ramesh, they may think baptism makes someone a Christian. Many of our neighbors haven't rejected Jesus outright. They simply don't know the Gospel of Jesus' life, death, burial, resurrection, ascension and coming again.

Ramesh seemed genuinely grateful that I had shared Jesus with him. It seemed like he was hearing things for the very first time. I wonder, how many are waiting to learn the truth about Jesus for the very first time? More than we can imagine, I expect. Most are open to a genuine conversation about faith and God and forgiveness and grace. Not a sales pitch, but a conversation, from the heart, with expectancy, but a conversation just the same.

It's been said before, but I do think many unbelievers have rejected, or ignored, a "form of religion" that they think is true Christianity. We need many, many conversations with our friends and with those we encounter each day. Conversations that focus on Gospel truths, spoken with uncommon grace, bathed in God's love.

Randy Adams, online at randyadams.org, is executive director of the Northwest Baptist Convention.
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