Sometimes people who meet with us are not necessarily looking for God; they might be curious, or have a point to try to prove. Here’s an unusual way that one of our missionaries responded when this proved to the case.
When a man I’ll refer to as Dmitry asked how I could believe in a God who doesn’t exist, I smiled and asked why he was so sure that God doesn’t exist. Dmitry responded that a loving God wouldn’t allow all that is going on in the world; therefore, He didn’t exist.
Much can be said about free will and the results of sin when addressing this matter. Perhaps others had spoken to Dmitry about such things. I decided not to at that point. Instead, I surprised him by asking how he knew that God was loving. What if God was not loving at all, and that’s why He allowed everything? Dmitry paused. If he again claimed that God didn’t exist, he would have to think of a different argument. Otherwise he would have to admit that God exists and continue to debate with me. But his pause was brief, and then he said, “If God is not loving, I surely don’t want to serve such an angry God."
I too paused briefly before telling him, "Well, it looks like God exists, doesn’t it?" The evil in the world has never been a logical way to disprove God’s existence. However, I take a different approach to discussing evil. I said to Dmitry, “You are right. There is a so-called god who is angry, and whom you ought not to serve. The Bible calls him the god of this age. Do you want to see what the Bible says about this?”
Dmitry suddenly became interested. We opened the Bible to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, where Paul says: "And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God."
As usual, after reading this verse, I waited for Dmitry’s response . . . which wasn’t very detailed. Then I told him that I used to serve that very god, the god of this age, unintentionally, without even realizing it. I began to share my story and what the Lord had done in my life. I described how the god of this age had blinded my mind, and I told about the strong depression I’d experienced; how drugs and alcohol had taken a toll on me until I knew that I needed God to save me. I had heard about Jesus before but was never interested because I didn’t want to abandon my sin. I didn’t understand until later that I’d been serving the god of this age. But as my condition worsened, I knew that I needed God, the real and one true God, in my life. I believed that Jesus’ sacrifice was the only possible atonement for my sin, and I repented and trusted in Him.
After I finished my story, Dmitry’s wife, who had been present during our conversation, was very agitated. It seems that their grandson is in the same condition that I’d once been in, and she wanted him to repent. At the end of our meeting, when I offered to pray for their needs, she wanted prayer for him. Even the most adamant unbelievers will usually express their prayer requests.
I have used the objection that Dmitry raised about evil in the world in witnessing to many people. I don’t dwell long on “the god of this world,” but it catches people’s interest and gives me the opportunity to share my story. Please pray for Dmitry, his wife, and their grandson, that they will come to saving faith in Jesus.
I was a “hippie” before I came to faith. By the age of 14, my major role models were John Lennon, Paul McCartney and Jim Morrison. At the age of 16, I was smoking marijuana. A year later, I was into harder drugs.
When I was 20 years old, in addition to cocaine, amphetamines and heroin, I was also taking LSD. My dream to become famous led me to search for a formula to achieve my goals. I expected to find answers in the spiritual realm and so, in keeping with my hippie lifestyle, I got into Eastern religions. I attempted to meditate as well as to read peoples’ minds.
Unfortunately my efforts did not lead me to the power I sought, but to a dark and frightening power. On the 13th of January in 2003, I had an encounter with Satan in which he told me that I belonged to him. Badly frightened, I sought help at a psychiatric clinic. All my attempts to conquer the spiritual and mental battles were meaningless until I met Jesus personally.
I heard the good news that Jesus died to set souls free from the power of sin. On the 3rd of October 2004 I received Him as my Savior and Lord. I was almost immediately freed from drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Jesus bought my soul through His own blood and restored it to me so I could serve God, and no longer be in fear of the powers of darkness. My baptism was in January 2005 and I began sharing my story with many people.
I also started to participate in evangelistic activities, and to play in a worship band in my congregation. In 2006, I got to know Jews for Jesus and began participating in many of their evangelistic campaigns. I find it easy to talk to people on the streets and many give me their information to hear more about Jesus. Currently I am following up with contacts from our evangelistic campaigns in Berlin.
Igor Shelest has been an outreach worker with Jews for Jesus since 2010. He and his wife Katya have been happily married since 2009 and they have three adorable children, daughters Eva and Liza, and son Nathan.