It was the hottest day of our time in Africa during our mission late last year. Part of the morning had involved me preaching a couple of times to more pastors than I could number and I was physically, mentally and spiritually exhausted. Waiting for our van to return and pick us up I enjoyed some time in the shade with Transforming Truth’s technical director, Nick Bell, and two African pastors. One of the men was serving in Kenya and the other in Tanzania and it was such a joy to listen to them share how God moves among the believers in their respective cities. Samson, the pastor from Kenya, recounted the following amazing story for us:
“A man in my church had been trying to win his friend to Christ for many years. His friend was an atheist and evolutionist who had dismissed the Gospel for a long time, but the man in my church was determined to continue sharing the message of Jesus with him. He prayed daily for the man’s salvation and felt like the heart of this man was as hard as a brick. One day as they stood together talking, a baboon came up to where they were and sat down a few yards away. For fun, the atheist tossed a cigarette at the baboon and, to his surprise, the animal stuck it in his mouth and let it sit there as if he was waiting for a light. Laughing together, the two men decided to see what would happen if the baboon was given a match so the atheist threw a whole book of matches at the baboon’s feet. Incredibly, the monkey picked up the matches, pulled one off, struck it aflame and put it to the cigarette. The two men stared in disbelief. The baboon enjoyed a partial smoke before running off from the two men. The man in my church discovered later that this event shook up his unbelieving friend who began to ask him more of the Gospel in the following weeks. Eventually, after much deliberation and searching, this evolutionist committed his life to Jesus Christ and gave testimony that the observing of a baboon smoking a cigarette triggered something in his thinking that asked, ‘Am I really nothing more than this smoking beast?’ Something inside him wanted to believe he was better than a baboon and more than a monkey. He found that our Gospel answered those questions and more.”
Pastor Samson indicated that he had shared this account many times while preaching and that he knew both men personally. The formerly unbelieving evolutionist became a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. What did I take away from hearing it myself? As a preacher of the Gospel there are few greater delights than to see someone turn to Christ. We pray. We share the truth. We warn. We pray more. We leave it with God but never turn loose of our burden for a soul in need of the saving grace of Christ. Many times those people for whom we pray show no signs of ever turning to the Lord. Recognizing that God loves people more than we ever could we sometimes grapple with why we do not see the result that we desire. If we are honest, we have given up on a few souls in our lifetime yet God is never intimidated by a hard heart. God is never out of options. The Almighty has never been perplexed over what He might do in order to rescue a lost soul…
So He brings a baboon that wants a nicotine fix and places him down in front of an atheist with a box of Marlboros and a pack of matches. God needed no help from anyone else. He had messenger prepared for that man that day.
God knows what He is doing in your life today. You may be out of options but, rest assured, He is not. You may be convinced that there is no way things will turn. You are out of resources. There is no time left. All the doors have been shut and you have no further ideas. Stand still and wait. Press on and stay the course, friend. God is more creative than we give Him glory for and He may simply be waiting until every imaginable measure is exhausted before He reveals what He has been planning all along. He delights in our astonishment at His goodness.
God has ordained some smoking monkeys in your life and mine. When they come, make sure everyone from America to Africa hears about it. People will pay attention.
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