Away from our normal environs, my wife and I were walking on a Florida beach late in the afternoon when I spotted a younger Asian lady sitting alone, reading what could only be a Bible. I resolved on our way back that I would stop and talk with her.
When we returned some twenty minutes later, as my wife continued her quest to find pennies (and more) in the wave-washed sand, I approached the young lady, saying I noticed that she was reading the Bible. We both confirmed we were believers, then she asked what church I attended. She wasn’t familiar with the Assemblies of God, which was curious given its worldwide size and scope.
I learned that Kathy [not her real name] was from a southeastern Asian country and had been in the U.S. for several decades. She was raised Roman Catholic in her home country, and that’s where the conversation took off. God brought Kathy out of Catholicism, but early on she became enamored with the Word of Faith movement that her sister was part of in a home church.
During this time, Kathy began reading the Bible and saw discrepancies with what the leaders in her little church proclaimed and that which the Word of God said. Eventually, she left that church despite her sister continuing to believe its tenets.
During our discussion, we talked about the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR) into which she (I believe rightly) lumped her Word of Faith church. She was quite familiar with the declarations of its leaders that they are apostles and prophets, in contradiction to how Scripture portrays church leadership with pastors, elders, and deacons going forward into this Church age. Likewise, Kathy commented on the NAR beliefs that they will Christianize the world so as to make the way for Jesus to return, and their thinking that they can literally direct God to heal at their command. The absurdity of these ideas is that not a single passage can be found that supports them, yet hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people follow NAR teachings around the world.
Yes, Jesus will return, soon, but not because of the works that NAR’s apostles and prophets, and all their followers, do. It will be in God’s timing for the redemption of Israel, and because the world has reached the point of no return from its sin and depravity. Likewise, if the NAR movement is so in line with God’s will, why don’t all these amazing men and women of God empty out the hospitals? If it’s God’s will for all of us to be healed, and these apostles and prophets are on the cutting edge of that, surely God would immensely bless their efforts to eradicate doctors, wouldn’t He?
We spoke briefly about Catholicism and the problems with its Jesus AND theology: To be saved, you need Jesus and participation in so many masses. You need Jesus and purgatory to cleanse you of all your sins. Jesus dying on the cross didn’t finish the work of restoring us to God. Grace through faith alone in Christ alone simply isn’t sufficient to reach heaven in the Catholic church. Reading the Bible showed all this clearly to Kathy. In addition, we sadly agreed that the Catholic church is the most likely candidate for the dubious honor of the harlot who rides the beast in Revelation 17.
The other fun little aspect of my discussion with Kathy was that she’s a pre-Trib believer, because that’s what the Bible says! We did a high-five on that and had a good laugh.
How often do you go somewhere and see a person reading God’s Word? Not often these days. Can you blame me for my curiosity? And from that, we had a discussion that encouraged both of us. That’s worthy in itself with so much darkness closing in around us.
Finding someone reading the Bible may be a thousand (million?) to one shot. There are certainly better odds coming across an unbeliever, but that a different story, and certainly a conversation poles apart from this one. However, if that unique person reading the Bible does cross your path, I recommend that you engage them. Take that step. You might have a pleasant conversation with a brother or sister in Christ, and walk away with a sense of joy and peace.
Gary W. Ritter is a lay pastor, Bible teacher, and serves as Missions Director at his church. He is also a prolific author. His Whirlwind Series is comprised of three books: Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind, and There Is A Time. These books are contained in the collected volume of the Whirlwind Omnibus. Gary has been given the Christian Redemptive Fiction award for two novels: The Tattooed Cat and Alien Revelation. He has recently released Looking Up – Volume 3, a non-fiction work that contains essays and devotions on end-times and prophetic events. Gary’s intent in all his writings is to bring a strong Christian witness to what people read. You can reach him at his website: www.GaryRitter.com or his Facebook Author page: https://www.facebook.com/gritter3390. You can also see his video Bible teachings on his Gary Ritter YouTube channel – look for the fish symbol.