Never Been Loved Like This

By Rev. Dr. Jo Anne Lyon

An agnostic experienced Jesus' loves in ways he never had before while traveling with others on a trip to Sierra Leone.

It was the end of a long work day in hot, steamy Sierra Leone, West Africa. We were lovingly tending to people suffering from vicious rebel attacks resulting in crude amputations of arms, legs, hands, etc., during a devastating civil war. Dr. Smith (a pseudonym) had made it clear at the beginning of the trip that he was an agnostic and would not participate in any of our “faith” talk.

One evening he asked to go for a walk with another team member. During the walk, words tumbled from the famed Dr. Smith. “I have been to India to an Ashram to seek peace,” he began. “I have been to Tibet to meet with the Dali Lama,” he rather proudly stated. But then his voiced dropped as he said, “I left empty.” In soft, intense tones, he said, “I have also read most of the New Testament, but I have never been able to accept that Jesus is the Son of God.”

My colleague confessed later that she was not in a mood for a debate. But the doctor went on, “Out of all the places where I have sought peace, I have found it here. I have never been loved as I have by this group. All the things I thought I could never believe, I not only believe, but have experienced. The most difficult has been my resistance to believing that Jesus is the Son of God. Tonight, somehow I feel that I have seen the living Jesus in the people here and I can now believe.”

Later, I reflected on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. They, too, were being influenced by false teaching that Jesus could not be the Son of God. But Paul writes with great grace, beauty, and power on the supremacy of Christ. One of the great verses reads, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27).

I saw this lived out among my colleagues and saw the mystery of the Holy Spirit making Jesus known to my friend Dr. Smith. Let us continue to cooperate with the work of the Spirit as Jesus makes himself known through our words, our deeds, and our love.