Our son Nelson just arrived home from 5 months of travel through Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, following God’s lead and listening to his instructions. I’ve been keeping up with him through his blog (www.NelsonNyman.com). His recent post was too good not to share with you, so below is the second half of it, slightly edited.
Nelson has always been candid about his life, even the “bad” parts, and the story he tells is evidence that God skillfully uses all of it, whenever we’re willing.
He wrote this on one of his last nights in Thailand while attending a global missions conference in Chiang Mai:
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I was sitting on the roof of the guesthouse taking a few minutes to process the day, when a man came out of his room and sat down next to me. He set down his pint of whiskey and initiated a conversation.
“Where are you from? Where have you been? Where are you going next? What are you doing in Thailand? Is [YWAM] a Christian organization? Are you a Christian?” The questions usually follow the same line until that point.
“Yes, I’m a Christian. Are you?”
A few people aren’t happy with this question, some are indifferent, and some say they’re Christians, too. This guy told me he thought it was great and that he was also a Christian.
“How is your relationship with God?” I asked. It’s interesting to hear how people answer that.
“Yea. Do you talk to God? Does he talk back? And what about Jesus?”
This guy had a gentle demeanor, and asked, “What does it mean to talk with God? How many requests can you ask for in your prayers? Is 2 too many?”
I told him how God reached out to me through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous and freed me of belligerent, out-of-control drinking nearly 7 years ago.
“Seven years?!” he said, looking shocked. “No drinking that whole time?”
Eventually, he told me booze was destroying his life, that he wanted to quit, and that he knew God had sent me to him. I told him there were AA meetings in Chiang Mai and that I’d take him to one, if he wanted. He agreed, took a huge tag off his bottle, stood up, and went back to his room.
I’d never been to an AA meeting in Chiang Mai but got online and sure enough, there were lots.
The next day, the guy wasn’t interested. Surprise, surprise.
But then the thought hit me, “Why don’t you go? It sure couldn’t hurt.” So I did. And sure enough, there were all these alcoholics in an old-school, 1940‘s-style room, slamming coffee, reading from AA literature:
“Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.”
After being reminded of that, I thought about it a lot. AA is a fellowship with a common vision. Christians are, too.
God reaches out to people any way he wants. He always meets us where we are, whether at an AA meeting, on a roof with a stranger, or attending an international Christian conference. In any and all places, he offers the solution to the problem of sin. And when he does, he wants all of us to reach out to others.
So it’s much simpler than I make it. Instead of asking what I can do for God, I should just remember what he’s already done for me, and simply give that away.
“…Freely you have received; freely give.” (Matthew 10:8)