Threats + Heart Attack = Conversion?
I was eager to visit a church we had the joy of helping to plant — now one of the fastest-growing churches in the country — but Pastor Felipe met us sadly at the door of the church. He was turning away more than 150 people who wanted to attend the service. They simply could not accommodate any more people — there were already 300 people crammed inside!
But that evening, after the service, Felipe began to share the mighty things that God had been doing....
A man in the neighborhood visits Felipe to complain about the noise and commotion caused by the church meetings. Felipe tries to explain that they are taking measures to minimize any inconvenience to their neighbors. The man is far from satisfied. He suggests that maybe he should start slapping Felipe around, to knock some sense into him!
Felipe’s response is calm ... and spiritually calculating: “If you start slapping me around, I guess I’m just going to have to take it. But you need to know that up there, I have a God much bigger than you — and sooner or later, He will deal out to you much more than you can deal out to me.” The man walks off, making threats as he goes.
Two hours later:
The same man suffers a heart attack! Friends rush him to the hospital. By God’s grace, the doctors are able to save his life. Felipe is told what has happened. He immediately sends deacons to visit the man, to comfort him until Felipe can visit personally.
Felipe finally arrives:
But he does not greet the patient in the usual polite way. He picks up the dialogue where they left off before! Our strong 30-year-old pastor friend sees his would-be aggressor in bed, with IVs in his arms, and asks him a simple, direct question: “So what do you want to do now?”
The man replies, with equal simplicity: “I want to receive Jesus and be a Christian.”
When I heard this incredible testimony, I felt like hanging a shingle over Cuba that reads: “Caution, God at Work!”
This story reminds me of the rapid growth of the church in the New Testament, where the Holy Spirit was so obviously at work. Ananias and Sapphira thought that life could be handled in a “normal,” spiritually mediocre way. They thought they could gently tip the scales their way and, in a single act, gain the admiration of the people — as well as put away a little fund for their own needs.
When the work of the Lord is this patently obvious, it should be evident that we need to engage reverently in whatever ministry He is showing us to do. Think of the cautionary signs around roadwork: “Fines double when workers present.” We need one that reads: “Warning: Stakes are highest when God is present!”