From Rejection to Redemption
By Karen Glassford
After yet another day of returning home from school and finding his mother yelling and his father drinking, Jhon wondered to himself, “Why can’t my family be like so many other families here in Mexico—where parents give their kids hugs and tell them they love them?”
By the time Jhon was a teenager, after so much abuse and neglect, he’d decided there was no hope for him. No one loved him except the many girls he’d been with, but he knew that wasn’t really love. Like his dad, Jhon drank and did drugs to escape the pain.
Years went by and Jhon never seemed to be able to keep a job for too long. His alcohol consumption interrupted his good intentions. He tried to read the Bible from time to time, but it didn’t make much sense to him. And he was certain of one thing: God had rejected him as well. After all, how could a holy God accept someone who had messed up and done so many terrible things?
Eventually, Jhon found a job as a perfume and cologne seller, and often sold his products at a nearby airport. One day, an Adventist pastor—Pastor Luis—was starting to regret purchasing a plane ticket that included a long layover. As he walked through the airport, a perfume salesman caught his attention. He seemed like a gregarious young man, but behind his smile, the pastor detected sadness and darkness.
“So that’s why God would never want anything to do with me.”
Pastor Luis called him over and asked if he could take a look at his products. After Jhon eagerly showed him his perfumes, Pastor Luis invited him to sit down and rest a bit. Upon learning Pastor Luis’ profession, Jhon stated that he knew God would never accept him. Pastor Luis was surprised and asked him, “Why?”
Jhon, who was accustomed to just laughing off his pain and changing the subject, became very serious as he shared about the pain of his past and the reality of his many terrible decisions. When he was done, he sighed and said with great conviction, “So that’s why God would never want anything to do with me.”
Pastor Luis swallowed hard and prayed for wisdom. He said “Jhon, do you have a Bible app on your phone?”
Jhon said he did, but that the Bible didn’t really make much sense to him. Luis helped him find Romans 5:6-8, and Jhon read the words aloud and seemed especially touched by this part: “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. . . . but God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Then the two of them looked up 2 Peter 3:9 followed by John 3:16. Pastor Luis said, “That ‘whosoever’ includes you, Jhon! He has plans for your life, and you can find Him if you seek Him with all your heart.”
Jhon looked at the pastor incredulously. Could this be true? Could God love him? On and on they talked. Pastor Luis even led the young man through some Bible studies on his phone. Jhon was amazed! He never knew the Bible could be understood like this. Hope began to spring into his heart. Maybe God would forgive him. Perhaps heaven was possible for him. Maybe he was loved after all! Tears rolled down his cheeks as he sobbed in relief, and poured out his heart in prayer with Pastor Luis right beside him.
Suddenly, Jhon blurted out, “When does your flight leave?” When Pastor Luis assured him that he still had 90 minutes left, the young man leapt to his feet. “Please don’t move; I’ll be right back!”
Jhon made a mad dash down a long corridor and returned moments later—followed by seven of his friends who looked at Pastor Luis curiously.
Two immigration officers scowled and moved closer, arms crossed, making it clear they did not approve of this sudden gathering. Pastor Luis chose to ignore them and focus on the young men. The friends knew that something out of the ordinary was happening, because Jhon had never been this excited about anything. He said, “Pastor! Tell them everything you told me, including how God loves us and wants to forgive us!”
The young men looked at Pastor Luis with great interest as he opened the Word of God. Time flew by as they too made it through many Bible studies. Every once in a while, Jhon would interrupt with an exclamation like, “Can you believe it? Did you ever know that before?”
Suddenly, Jhon noticed that a significant amount of time had passed and he exclaimed, “Your flight leaves in five minutes, Pastor Luis! You’d better run! But, oh, how I want to know more!”
Pastor Luis promised to send them audio Bible study presentations via WhatsApp. They all quickly added his number then prayed in a circle—many openly crying. The immigration officers were also deeply moved. They had been listening and also wanted to receive the audio Bible studies.
Pastor Luis knew he had likely missed his plane, so he raced to his gate. Careening around the corner, he saw a welcome sight. The flight had been delayed and they were just now boarding. Smiling through his own tears, he said to himself, “He’s done it again! God is the master at arranging circumstances and schedules!”
Pastor Luis hears from that group of young men every day. They eagerly listen to the Bible messages and pepper him with questions. Jhon even shared that after they met, a lot of bad things befell him—he felt surrounded by evil spirits—but when he cried out to God, the evil spirits left him.
Please pray for Jhon, his friends and the immigration officers as they continue to listen to the evangelistic messages on their cell phones—that they might grow in their relationship with God and their commitment to His truth!
Karen Glassford was Director for Centers for Digital Evangelism at the time of writing. She is now associate in communications.
World Church Prayer Requests
May 12 - 18, 2023
- Pray for peace for the people of Sudan, the Sudan refugees fleeing to other countries, and those caught in the midst of the ongoing conflict.
- Pray for the growing ministry of Adventist World Radio. Pray that many more will be able to hear the message of God’s love over the radio waves and be brought to Him.
- Pray for the ministry of Operation Save-a-Youth (OSAY) in Manchester, Jamaica, as they seek to strengthen their youth through serving the community.
- Pray for the Total Member Involvement event scheduled for Europe this May. Pray for many hearts and lives to turn to Jesus.
- Pray for two community centers in Russia that offer a health food store, massage therapy, a preschool, and healthy lifestyle training courses.
- Please pray for the “Health for Every Day” radio broadcast airing in Tokyo, Japan. Ask God to guide and bless the presenters, bring listeners, and connect those listeners to local churches.