How a Soldier Found Faith and a New Hope in Jesus

*Trigger Warning: depression and suicidal thought.

This video addresses mental health issues that affect people from all walks of life. While addressing parts of these issues within the context of Christian community is important, there are times when further professional help may be required. It is OK to ask for help! If you are in this situation, please seek out a mental health professional. A tool to find a professional in your area, along with other resources, can be found at https://www.cru.org/us/en/train-and-grow/life-and-relationships/emotions/mental-health-resources.html.

Call 988 – Suicide and Crisis Lifeline Veterans can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline

Transcript: So when America’s Capitol was stormed, January 6, my unit was called to go down to respond, and so that’s exactly what we did. I’m a chaplain and the entire unit, we went down there, and our job was to protect the House of Representatives. I’m thinking, like, “Man, what does a chaplain got to do with this type of situation?” And there was all kinds of unique environments that I found myself in.

But one of them was when a soldier approached me and said, “Hey, listen. I need you to check on my friend. He’s not himself.” I said, okay. So I just. As a chaplain, I go and I listen to people all the time. That’s a lot of what we do, is we listen and take care of people.

And so he was back at his room, and I had a conversation with him and just kind of wanted to see where he’s at. And he seemed to be really stuck. He was just in a very dark place. He would not answer his cell phone when his wife would call. He was completely immobilized.

And this guy’s a tough guy. He’s a sniper. He’s a pretty bad dude, and just totally mentally out of it. And so basically, I just kind of just kept listening, talking to him, and nothing was happening. And then I basically kind of put on my chaplain hat a little bit and said, well, “do you mind if I just talk about my faith and kind of how my faith really kind of speaks into this situation?” And really he said, “Yeah, sure, you have my permission, you could talk about that.” And so, for him, he was in a suicidal spot. He didn’t really want to live anymore. He was completely numbed out.

And so I talked about how God embraces suffering. And he comes into our world, Jesus Christ fully, man, fully God, embraces that narrative of suffering, and he completely took away our sin and absorbed the punishment that we deserve. And so for him, it was really important to see that Jesus wasn’t just such a,

He wasn’t just a man. He was God in the flesh. He fully identified with humanity. And so he really connected with the gospel story. And so after I talked about that, he said, “You know, you’re like, one of the only guys I’ve ever heard really articulate it this way.”

And so he said, “So, I want to believe.” And I said, “Well, slow down. Let’s slow it down. I said, that’s awesome, but I really kind of want you to understand a little bit more about the content of the story.” So I went through the KGP, through the GodTools app, and I just reviewed the gospel story, just looking at the scripture, letting God’s word speak to him.

And he really connected with it and still had more questions and really wanted to make sure it was his own. And then eventually, I shared the suggested prayer with him, and I told him to make it his own. And he’s like, “I am ready for this”. And so that’s what he did. He prayed. He accepted Christ right there on the spot.

And throughout the rest of that know, he’s been camping out in the gospel of John, reading it, and growing as a new disciple of Christ. So I just thought it was pretty cool. God brings unique stories, and just being able to articulate the gospel whenever it was needed was just awesome to see God work that way.

Why did a simple conversation about money make a coworker think about Jesus?

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Jack. Why do you budget your money? This is a question that I got from one of my coworkers. For context, I work for a cancer research hospital in the United States. My co-workers and I, most of whom are surgeons, are constantly faced with the answers to our research, sometimes meaning the difference between life or death for our patients.

And so naturally, I thought that conversation or spiritual conversation with my coworkers would revolve around this context. So I was a little surprised when Jesus was prompting me to provide a spiritual answer to a seemingly simple question about budgeting from my coworker. Up to this point, we’ve been discussing the high financial costs of medical training in the United States. When asked why I budget, I sensed an opportunity from God to share how he has changed my life as well as my perspectives, including those on money. So I began my answer about how I started following Jesus as a freshman in college.

My coworker slowly leaned in, an inquisitive look on their face, clearly wondering how I would connect this back to money. I continued, Jesus talks more about money than almost any other topic in the Bible. Previously, I saw money as a resource to get what I wanted. However, whenever I started reading the Bible, money wasn’t described as a resource to be owned or hoarded. Rather, it was a resource given to us by God to be borrowed for his purposes here on this earth.

And so now the reason that I budget is so I can give generously to others, recognizing that I have been a recipient of the generous giving that God has done in my life. Slowly, the conversation switched over and kind of died out. But before the end of the day, my coworker grabbed me and said, “I didn’t realize that Jesus talked about things that really matter in our lives today.” I thought back to myself laughing about how I originally thought a spiritual conversation between my coworkers and I would go. Instead, I knew in this moment that he used this conversation to plant a seed of curiosity about him in my coworker’s mind.

I was also reminded at this point that God can use any person, in any situation, in any conversation as a way to share the gospel to those who desperately need it.

The power of now: How I missed sharing God’s love

Transcript:

Hey, I’m Samm, and I work in full-time ministry, which means sometimes people hold me to a higher standard to live out the Bible perfectly. Well, I want to tell you about a time when I had the opportunity to hold the doors to God’s kingdom wide open for someone, and I didn’t.

I moved to the Middle East for a year in college to study abroad, and I had the desire to share the gospel with other students on campus. So in between classes, I found ways to have these spiritual conversations using a pack of pictures. I found that when people could answer questions with photos, not only would they answer more honestly, but they would share a lot more than without them.

I once sat down at a table with two guys and a girl just started chatting, and I asked them if I could talk with them about spiritual things using these photos, and they were totally open to talking about it. And so after a few minutes, only one of the guys really seemed engaged in the conversation still. And so I asked what his relationship was like with God or his view of God was like. And he shared that while he grew up in a home that practiced a different religion, he went to a private Christian school, which I was surprised by, but he told me that wasn’t really uncommon for the city he lived in. He said, “There’s this little boy in my kindergarten class who prayed to God like he was real, like he had a real relationship with him.”

Then he said, “I wish somebody would tell me how I could have a relationship with God like that.” I was shocked. Like, when you think about sharing the gospel, this is what you hope for. I was nervous that the other two who weren’t really listening to the conversation anymore would take away from me sharing the gospel if I started right then.

I wanted to share the good news of Jesus with him. So I asked like, “Hey, would you want to get together later this week?” And he was like, “Sure.” When we left the conversation, I prayed that I would see him again so that I could share with him. And I actually only saw him two other times, and both times he was literally running off to class.

And so I was so disappointed in myself for not taking the opportunity that God clearly gave me. I’ll never forget him. I wish I had trusted the Holy Spirit to speak through me, risked getting interrupted and actually share the gospel. Sometimes you aren’t going to do it right. And thankfully, God isn’t surprised when we mess up.

And he’s so kind to continue to give us chances and opportunities. So don’t let failure stop you from trying to share again.

Did Carlos really just invite a gang member into his home?

Transcript:

What’s going on? My name is Carlos, and I’ll be sharing a story with you of how God reminded me of his faithfulness and his pursuit for his people. Even when we disregard him, he still pursues us and he’s still faithful. And it reminded me how I need to continue to pursue and be faithful to others. See, I’ve been inviting three guys to come over to my house for dinner and Bible study.

And in one day in particular, AP was the only one who was able to make it. Now he’s actually the most stubborn one, but yet the most transparent one of the whole group. It was me and my wife. And he started sharing things that was news to my wife. Gang banging, demonic dreams, drug dealing, fighting, all of that. More and more. 

The only thing that was new to me was when he started saying how he started dabbling with voodoo and witchcraft. I’ve shared with AP in the past that a lot of the things that he’s been doing has been allowing either the presence of evil and darkness to come into his life. And as he starts growing and maturing, he started seeing that for himself. So he’s trying to figure out where he could find peace.

And I’ve given him a resource. I’ve given him the understanding of where the true peace can be found, and yet he has not accepted that yet, and he has not found his encounter with God. I still believe God has something for him. I still believe God is going to use AP in his life whenever that happens.

And this allows me to know that God has not given up on him and I know I should not give up on AP. You see, it takes me back to when I was questioning my faith. I was trying to understand what does this look like? What is my relationship with Jesus? Am I even a Christian?

As I started giving up on myself as a follower of Jesus, I knew God was not giving up on me and he gave me the eyes to see that. I assume Christianity is all of what the Christianity of America is versus what the Christianity of Jesus Christ is. And so that gave me more hope to allow me to find my identity in Jesus Christ alone. I say all this to say this, if it wasn’t for what God has done for me in my life, I wouldn’t have been inviting AP into my home and I wouldn’t have been finding in the Bible how Jesus demonstrates true discipleship, therefore allowing me to invite AP into my home and into my life. And so as God continues to pursue me, I know God is continuing to invite me to pursue AP, even when things aren’t as ideal as I want them to be.

How can someone choose Jesus when Christians have done so much harm?

Transcript:
Hi, my name is Sarah, and I want to share a story with you about my previous student, Bri, who I’ve had the privilege to stay in touch with for the last couple years since she graduated from high school.

One day Bri and I were out to dinner, and she brought up a pretty heavy conversation topic. For context, I work on a Native American reservation, and only about 3% of Native Americans are evangelical Christians. This is largely because of what’s called colonization and the way the U.S. government historically abused Native peoples — especially through the use of physically and emotionally abusive boarding schools. A lot of these schools even continued until the mid-1900s, and the trauma that followed still affects Native Americans largely today through very high numbers of poverty, addiction, unemployment and homelessness.

Bri knew that I was a Christian, and at dinner that night she told me that she couldn’t understand how people could be Christians when they had done such horrible things. She told me she’d recently learned a new term — “generational trauma.” And she was starting to see how these horrible events of the past were affecting her present and the current hardships in her life. 

It made a lot of sense to me that she felt the way that she did. It was a very real moment, and I was honored to have built enough trust with her to have a conversation like this.

I told her that the Jesus that was spread through colonization isn’t the real Jesus at all, that [the real] Jesus loves diversity, and that “every tribe and people and language” will worship him, like it says in Revelation 7:9. The real Jesus does not want cultures and languages to disappear. 

Something clicked for Bri that day. And about a year later, she was softened enough to the gospel to want to get to know Jesus more intimately through reading his Word. We’ve been studying through the Bible together since this past spring and are reading John 13 this coming week! She is eager to get to know the real God of the Bible.

What I think is most important about all of this is that this kind of stuff happens as a result of building a genuine friendship or mentorship with someone, as well as having a willingness to invite deep and real conversation. Many people do want to know the real Jesus. We just have to be willing to take steps of faith to talk about him with the people in our lives.

Many people are ready to hear God’s good news. But who will tell them?

Hi, I’m Nathan. I remember some years ago I was reading in the book of Matthew, where Jesus said that the harvest was plentiful but the laborers were few.*

And I remember thinking that I wanted to be a laborer too. But I never really quite took it to heart. Would God actually use someone like me to share the gospel? Well apparently, yes, he can and he would.

I was just meeting with a friend — his name is Aiden. And I felt like God was prodding on my heart to share the gospel with him even though I knew he had class pretty soon. And so, I decided to take a step of faith and asked Aiden, “Aiden, on a scale of 0 to 100%, how certain are you that you would get into heaven right now?”

And Aiden took a second and just contemplated on what I’d asked him. And I remember he responded, like, “Honestly, I’m not that sure.”

I mean, Aiden’s a lot like other students here at my university. Some can drop 20 verses of Scripture at the drop of a hat, just out of memory. While others don’t know anything at all. Aiden is a lot like others where he’s just kind of in the middle, in between. He’d grown up in church but never really took the time to consider where his eternal destination might lie.

And so that gave me a wonderful opportunity to share the gospel with him and explain who Jesus was. And I asked him if he wanted to place his faith in Christ’s death and resurrection and if he wanted to have a relationship with God. And Aiden said yes!

And so it’s crazy for me to think back about how Jesus really did promise that the harvest was plentiful and that God really can use someone like me to lead someone to himself. All it really takes is one single step of faith.

*Matthew 9:37-38 — The “harvest” represents people who are ready to say yes to Jesus and “laborers” are those who are ready to go tell others about Jesus.

How can telling someone your story lead to a great spiritual conversation?

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Mario. Six months ago one of the guys at the gym approached me and asked me to spot him while he did squats. We started talking, shared our names and what we do for work.

When I mentioned that I make videos about Jesus, he was very interested to know more about why I do this. So I shared my testimony with him. It turned out that he was so thirsty to know more about God because he was going through a hard period in his life.

Our conversation was very smooth and natural, as I shared about how the Bible had impacted my life when I started reading it and keeping my focus on Jesus and his promises. He was so encouraged by what I shared because we had been through very similar challenges in our lives.

He was interested in reading the Bible as this is something he always wanted to commit to, but he didn’t know how to start and where to start.

I showed him the Bible app on his phone and asked him to start reading from [the Gospel of] John and let him know that I will help him with any question he may have or any part that he didn’t understand. 

Since that day we have formed a strong friendship where we talk about God all the time. He’s had all sorts of questions about the Christian faith. He would send me screenshots over WhatsApp of different passages of the Bible that he couldn’t understand. I would then send him different videos that I made that answered some of his questions and, of course, discuss these things together.

He was very committed since day one. And after a little while his life began to transform. He started to experience God’s love, joy and peace and decided to get baptized. 

He even started to share his faith with his friends and family. We now meet almost every Saturday with one of his best friends for spiritual conversations.

How bonding over shared interests can open a door to share the hope of Jesus

Hey everyone! My name is Sophi. A few years ago I was in East Asia, taking classes at a university, and while there, I became friends with a girl.

We first bonded at the coffee shop on campus. She had Taylor Swift stickers on her laptop, so I knew that we were going to be great friends. We talked for hours about our interests, school day, family, friends, careers, dreams. She gave me a tour of campus the next day and we kept hanging out in the days after that.

One night we got to talk about some of the heavy burdens that she was carrying. Her parents were sick and she was their caretaker on top of being a full-time student. She worked on the weekends to pay for their medicine. She felt all alone sometimes.

I told her she was dealing with so much, but that she was not alone. That there was someone who wanted to hear her worries and who was a safe place for her. A refuge. Someone who made darkness hide and brought light. A true friend.

She said she wanted to know more about this person. And as I was sharing the story of Who Jesus is and what He has done for us, she asked questions.

She also told me about these spirits that her people believe in: a dark spirit and a light spirit. She said she was doing laundry not long ago and she felt so heavy. She started to cry and she begged for someone to help her, and when she did, she said she felt a huge weight lift off of her and she heard chains being dragged away from her. She told me that she always thought it was the light spirit, but now she believed it was Jesus who helped her.

I told her my own stories about Jesus helping me and that there was a whole book full of stories about him.

These conversations taught me how to build trust with someone, build a relationship with someone, and in turn being able to have these deep conversations. It taught me how I wanted to have spiritual conversations with people, something I now put to use in my everyday life. 

Thanks for listening! Have a good day.

How to react when the person you’ve shared the gospel with says no to Jesus

Transcript:

Hi, I’m Bobby and here’s a conversation I had. I was at the weekly meeting of a Christian group I was a part of at my college.

I was there early and, as the band practiced the worship set, an international student from East Asia walked in.

So to make him feel welcome, I introduced myself. He had heard music coming from the room as he was walking by and he wanted to see what was going on.

As we talked, I was able to tell him what our group was about and that we connect people to God through Jesus. He was interested to know more, but the meeting was starting.

However, he agreed to get coffee with me the next day and continue the conversation.

So the next day we met up at Starbucks and I was able to talk about the gospel with him using the Knowing God Personally tool in the GodTools app.

And what was special about this conversation was that I used the parallel language feature for the first time. I shared each point in English, and then also in his native language.

And as we went through each point, I could tell that reading it in his own language was helping him to understand the gospel more deeply. He told me he had never heard this message before and he was amazed that God wants to forgive people for free, without earning it.

But when we got to the last point I asked him if he would want to begin a relationship with Jesus by faith. He looked at me, with longing but also resistance, and he told me he couldn’t receive a gift like this, that he wasn’t able to accept it for free, he would have to earn it.

Now sadly, I wasn’t able to help him get past that and later we lost contact. But not long after that I saw him again. I was glad to see that God was continuing to work in his life. And I believe I am just one of the many ways Christ is pursuing a relationship with him.

Do you believe God can use you to point your co-workers toward Jesus?

Transcript:

Hi, my name is Matthew. I work at the human service organization in Brooklyn, NYC. During one of our mosque events, when the Athan went off, which is the Islamic call to public prayer, Noura*, my co-worker, who identifies as Muslim, took some time in silence before Allah in the other room. I noticed that she was not really praying the traditional Muslim prayer. When she came back in the main room, Noura initiated a conversation, saying: “I don’t really pray, you know.”

I followed up, saying, “Why are you saying that?” She said, “I like to connect with God in my own way,” and then also added, “And I get confused sometimes thinking about religion.” Then Noura looked me straight in the eyes and asked me: “If Jesus is not God, then why is he the one coming to judge all humanity?”

This question gave me a wide door to share the full gospel right there in the mosque. I was wearing a bracelet that had the symbols from an evangelistic tool called “THE FOUR,” and I was able to use those symbols to share the four points of the gospel with Noura. She was following so attentively, and confessed that she is searching for truth, and she believes that God put me in her life to point her to him.

Later that day, I sent Noura an evangelistic video called “Falling Plates.” After watching it, she replied saying that it gave her a lot of comfort knowing God desires a relationship with her. One week after that conversation, I gave Noura a Bible. When she received it, she cried and promised to read it every day. 

Noura did not have a radical change in her life, but her journey toward Jesus is steady and certain. Often when I see her in the office, she expresses that she is reading the Bible daily and she is falling in love with Jesus. And Noura also decided not to observe Ramadan this year, instead to focus on her journey toward Jesus. 

Since this story, actually Noura transitioned to work for another organization in another state. But I trust that God will place someone in her life to continue to point her toward Jesus. 

*Name changed for privacy.

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