Each year millions of people visit the holy Indian city of Hardwar to bathe in the River Ganges. These multitudes come believing this Hindu ritual will wash their sins away. They bathe in waters with many others who want desperately to be forgiven of sin, but have only the hope of the washing of physical water to clean their sins. Christian missionaries in India spend much time witnessing to these people, telling them of God’s forgiveness, begging them to trust His cleansing power rather than the waters of an earthly river.
These Indian people will do anything to gain forgiveness of sins, washing in water, praying prayers, putting themselves through torturous rituals, and even offering their own children as sacrifices. One story is told of an Indian woman who believed that offering her newborn son would appease her god and grant her eternal life. Ignoring the instinct that is in each mother, she traveled to the Ganges River, and saying goodbye one last time, she threw her son into the waters and watched him drown. She felt no forgiveness, no grace, no peace. She only felt sorrow.
On her way home, she met a missionary whom she told what she had just done. Having a Bible with him, the missionary was able to show the mother how God says she could be forgiven. Believing God’s promise and accepting Jesus’ free gift, the woman was saved that day. After she felt the peace of God, she asked the missionary one poignant question: “Why were you late?” Confused, the missionary asked what she meant. “I just lost my son to a god who didn’t care. Why were you so late in telling me of the true way to Heaven? Had I known, I wouldn’t have lost my boy.”
Sometimes we lose perspective on the dire need of people around the world. Many, like the mother, are living in spiritual darkness and are experiencing unthinkable horrors for the sake of forgiveness and peace. We can become so blinded by our comfort that we ignore the needs of those around us.
Jesus has given us the answers to every life problem we will face. He wrote the Bible to help guide us through the difficulties. But He also wrote a command for our dispersion of His truth. “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”
Granted, not everyone is called to be a missionary, to travel to distant lands, and to spend their life in the front lines of the Christian battle. But God calls each of us to tell others of His hope. Just like the Indian woman in the story above, there are hurting, blinded people around you wherever you are. They need to hear of God’s forgiveness and salvation, and God wants you to tell them.
Too many Christians are unwilling to step outside their comfort zone to tell someone of God’s hope. Have you ever ignored God’s moving to witness to someone? You may struggle with shyness, loss of words, or fear of rejection; yet God promises to help you overcome your fears if you will obey Him.
Don’t be too late with your witness. Someone needs that message today, and you never know when their time on earth is up. You may be the last chance they have to accept Christ. (Dr. Paul Chappell)