“Teen Suicide Prevented”
This week’s Salvation Story, I believe, will help each of you to trust God even more, and also with the “order of salvation” in your family. All of us have more than a few family members who we know need to know the Lord, so we often focus on these family members while the Lord often chooses others to pave the way.
Such is the case with this salvation story that is very near and dear to my heart. It’s about my niece, my older brother’s daughter, who I knew ahead of time the Lord would use to help bring both her parents to the Lord. Very often the Lord prompts us to ask about “things to come” things that are “hidden” and such was the case concerning my brother who I knew desperately needed the Lord in his life.
Unlike my experience in a Catholic school where He used a nun to instruct me to open my heart to the Lord, my brother had a far different experience. When we were young, he and I would play dress up: he being a priest, while I was dressed as a nun. Of course, this was before I found out a nun couldn’t have children, and children were top on my list for when I grew up. Nevertheless, I told my mother often that I wanted to be a nun so I could be “married to God” a bit prophetic wasn’t it?
Anyway, it was when my brother transferred to an all boys school and the priests were of a certain order that was known to be very strict—not just on others, but on themselves—but what they believed would bring about a better follower of Christ. And it wasn’t that my brother was personally ill-treated, it was what he witnessed. He saw his fellow classmates abused that ultimately prompted my brother to turn his back on God and it’s when he began looking into eastern religions for the answers.
The day after he graduated from high school my brother hitchhiked from California to New York, then caught a freighter ship to begin traveling around the world. For the first several years he traveled around Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, then met his future wife in Japan, who, like approximately 75% of their country, was raised Buddhist.
My brother and his wife were married in a Buddhist church, and it was many, many years before they had their two daughters. Even though my brother often told me how Christianity “must be real because I was so different” he was never ready to embrace the Lord himself. So on one occasion, I believe it was the Lord who prompted me to ask the Lord how it would happen (noticed I didn’t say “if” it would happen?).
"Thus says the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker: 'Ask Me about the things to come ...'"
That’s when He reminded me of what He not only revealed to me, but actually did in my oldest brother’s family, but the full salvation story (that I know you’re going to love!!) is set for a later date.
However, as a preview, before it ever happened, He showed me that my brother would come to know Him through his daughter. She was clearly a daddy’s girl, so it made perfect sense to call her to know Him first, thus leading the way for her parents. So when I asked about my brother in Japan, I knew this was how it would be for this brother too.
At the time we were living on our farm and got an urgent email from my brother, followed by a long distance phone call. Though he didn’t come right out and say it, he was very concerned about his youngest daughter’s depression. Then I learned that Japan is haunted by teen suicides, actually, double what is in the U.S. and triple the amount in the U.K. So when nothing worked and even her school was warning my brother and his wife to be watchful, he did what I thought he’d never do. He sent his daughter to visit us—knowing full well I’ve never been quiet about my love and devotion to the Lord.
As I said, I’ve never witnessed to anyone like most Christians are taught to do: trained and urged to “witness” in this manner, like most evangelical churches. Instead, the Lord is simply such an intricate part of my life, no one who is ever around me for long would fail to notice Him too.
So Monica came for a visit and the morning afterward, she woke up to find our entire family sitting in our living room, listening to Alexander Scourby while reading along in our Bibles. Afterward, we finished, she asked what we were doing and when the children tried to explain she said, “What’s a Bible?” Though I could have explained, I left the room so my children could share whatever they were led to. What I was surprised about later, when I heard, was that one of my children showed Monica a picture of her as a baby, with her family that was taped to our 3x5 Prayer Card. The picture showed her sitting on my hip with her family behind her, and my children explained that since that day our family had prayed for her to someday know the Lord.
Monica was only visiting for a few weeks, so I could have become anxious, knowing her visit would limit the time to share the truth with her. Yet, I knew very well this was NOT my problem nor was it my goal, nor was it up to me or my children to “get her saved.”
“Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today..."
2 Chronicles 20:17—
You need not fight in this battle; station yourselves, stand and see the salvation of the Lord on your behalf . . . Do not fear or be dismayed . . . the Lord is with you.”
Ephesians 6:12 KJV—
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places."
So I did as the verse said, and simply stood back to see the salvation of the Lord on our family’s behalf—knowing there were years, even generations of principalities that were fighting against her knowing Him—which is the reason I know that it’s not US doing anything—He alone is who will do all the saving!
The first thing that happened is that my children ran to me with Monica in tow, explaining she “asked” to pray for salvation, so they led her in the “sinner’s prayer.” Yet my teenaged son said he’d feel better if she went to the altar, most likely since He was part of their V.I.P. Youth Program (and soon headed it up) that just happened to be that night!
Basically, at a certain point in the service, the youth pastor asks anyone who is new to raise their hand, then they would be asked to follow volunteers into the V.I.P. lounge for food and fun. As soon as they walked through the door, a corresponding male-to-male, female-to-female, who was excited and loving, would eat and talk with the newcomer. Later they’d return, often sitting with them, until the altar call when they also come up to the front and later be who would speak to them about their salvation.
This clearly having it be his cousin, was one of Easton’s absolute favorite services ever, and later I heard he was very territorial about his cousin. Yes, it was partly him being a normal teen, but I also believe it stemmed from having prayed for his cousin for YEARS! I truly believe that God doesn’t “need” our prayers, but it is said to be incense when we pray. But even more, as I’ve said before when we pray or others pray for us, and inevitably He DOES what was prayed for, we each FEEL it as if it happened to us, and that’s why I believe He does it this way.
So that evening Monica did go to the V.I.P. lounge, sat with Easton and then was thrilled to go to the altar and also sign up to be baptized on that upcoming Sunday. Her baptism could be a testimony in itself, but let me simply say that with her broken English and when the church heard about her mother raising her Buddhist and also saying “my family pray for me since I was baby” that led to the church erupting in excitement— everyone jumping to their feet and shouting praise!
Yet, is this all necessary?
Or did this actually adversely affect the outcome, because it was too my hype?
Whether a person sits quietly and even when I’ve asked a person to go home and speak to the Lord while they’re alone OR if they instead go through a lot of fanfare like Monica—the proof is IF the person appears NEW—clearly is Born Again.
John 3:7 ESV
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’”
Psalm 34:4-5 ESV—
“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed.”
Yet, the real proof is when Monica returned home and her parents said they simply didn’t recognize her!! They said her face was actually glowing—and even said it was due to the LOVE I had given her! That’s the honest truth and they said it over and over each time I spoke to them and Monica came up in the conversation. And though I’d love to have said “Oh, no, it’s not MY love but the Lord’s love” I knew it could just as easily interfered with what God had already begun, and Who needed to finish the story.
Monica, like many young people, was frightened by many things, primarily her future and how she didn’t feel she could live up to her parents’ expectations and also compete with her older sister Lila. However, when she met and embraced the Lord, He saved her from all of those fears and her face radiated with His love!
It’s been many years since this auspicious event took place, and only a few years after, Monica came to live with us attending school in the U.S. for a year, which helped solidify her relationship with the Lord. Not surprisingly her grades immediately went up and she said she never struggled in school again; instead, she’d simply ask the Lord to help her. In addition, she never shared her experience with her parents or sister, which I encouraged her to do, remaining discreet. I knew full well how Monica would be forced to defend her faith and she was in no way prepared to do so—I’d say most could never defend their faith—nor do we need to. Instead, by Monica simply living in His love, she began to overflow in His mercy and grace, which led to her sister Lila also coming to know Him—which will be our Salvation Story next week!!
UPDATE: Monica just got married to a young man who became a research doctor. It was such a wonderful whirlwind love story where he'd seen her, set his sights on marrying her, lost track of her, finally found her again, and on their first day he asked her to marry him. They were married a few short weeks later.