I’ve always loved the Christmas season, but this year God has given me a new reason to love. Christmas has always been associated with family, gifts, relaxation, and Jesus. I’ve always really appreciated gifts, but this year my gift came in the form of Paul.
Yesterday, my sister’s fiancé invited me to his church’s christmas eve service tonight. At first I felt uneasy because
1. I had never attended a Christmas church service up until a tonight and
2. I had never been to church with my sister let alone any member of my family.
Service was pretty cool, and the congregation was extremely exciting, but of course who wouldn’t be? We were celebrating the birth of Jesus! It was clear that the church was A charismatic church, so I was becoming weary about the presence of the prosperity gospel rather than the truth of salvation. I think this was my sister’s first time at church and perhaps her fiancés first time in a long time as well. In in case you didn’t know, my family doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ, so I’m always very weary about exposing them to Christianity. This time, I knew God had a different idea for what he wanted me to learn.
While I was still processing my thoughts, we ended up going back to their home for Christmas eve dinner. In my mind I was thinking about talking to their mom about general outreach to our families. At the same time, I could feel Satan pressuring me to take their salvation into my own hands. I could tell he was trying to distract me from God’s intent for the night. Still lost in thought, their phone rang and the patron asked for me. His name was Paul, and he was going to become my brother-in-law soon. I had never met him before, and he actually asked if he could talk to me. Confused, I received the phone from their mom, and just said, “Hello, Paul?”
The Paul mentioned in scripture was a dedicated follower of Christ whose ministry we only know of through the written epistles he dedicated to multiple churches. Paul spent most of his walk with the LORD in prison, but even in that time, he showed true affection and love toward those he had reached. Today, I met Paul Lin, a man after God’s heart. Paul Lin’s life reflects the same life of Saul, a christian persecutor who would later be reborn as a Christian in Paul. Paul was found guilty of murder a few years ago, and was sentenced to 6 years in prison. It wasn’t until this past summer that my sister and her fiancé shared with the rest of my family that his brother was convicted of murder. In my mind, I had never thought to meet this brother of mine, and even moreso, I had never thought to forgive him of his sins. I just pushed the thought to the back of mind, thinking, “Hey, if I never meet him, I’ll never judge him, and God will be satisfied.” I’m such a fool.
Continuing on with our story; my complete neglect of my fellow brother came as a shock to me. He asked to talk to ME. He wanted to get to know ME. And the next thing he does completely blows my mind. He just starts talking about Jesus, and God, and soon as that’s done, he asks, “Hey, can I pray for you?” Completely astounded, I just sink into every genuine word of love. Paul know’s what love is. He know’s God’s forgiveness, and he knows he is forgiven. At the end of his prayer, with a tear in my eye, I asked him if he could share his testimony. A RAW and REAL testimony of how God changed his life. He summarized the last 6 years of his life, and although I don’t feel comfortable posting the details online, I can say on his behalf, “God is Good.”
So… his story is pretty devastating, but in talking to him, I learned to put myself past judgement and listen to how God had transformed him. God loves everyone, even those with the “worst” of sins. God used him to reminds me why we have christmas. why we even bother to celebrate birth or in this case, rebirth. Paul Lin is a born again christian who has dedicated every will and movement in his broken soul to serving the LORD. He has been reborn as Christ was born to die for my, yours, his, all of our sins.