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  • Denise Kohlmeyer

DON'T LOSE HOPE



I’d given up hope of ever seeing any of the four members of my immediate family come to Christ. Upon my own conversion in 1991, at the age of 21, I started witnessing to them about Jesus and His free saving grace. I prayed for their souls and hoped that one of them would find salvation.


No one did.


Years passed. I turned 30. Got married, had a family. I turned 40. Then 50.


Still, in all that time, no one in my family made a profession of faith. In fact, two of my family members specifically (and vehemently) told me to stop talking to them about God. Period. They did not want to hear about Him or my faith anymore. Out of respect—and not to dishonor God and His Word—I went silent.


Sadly, over time, I stopped witnessing completely to all of them. I also went silent with my prayers for their salvation. In short, I lost heart. I lost hope. I gave up. I became disheartened and discouraged.


In 2006, my dad passed away. He was a “good” man, by worldly standards. A self-made man. He gave to charities, to his Catholic church. He even purchased a school bus for an all-girl’s school.


But he was still an unsaved man. It was—and still is—difficult to think about where he might be right now. I have had to relinquish that fear and trust the One who judges righteously.


But three family members were still left. Yet, I maintained my silence.


Then, in 2015, a devastating event happened to one of my siblings (whom, out of respect, I won’t name). They were arrested for possession of a narcotic and spent a harrowing night in jail where a fight broke out in their cell. They literally feared for their life.


Several days later—after they were released—I got a phone call from this badly shaken sibling. They were ready to talk. About God! They were low, humbled. Ripe for the harvest.


I didn’t hesitate. I was beyond thrilled to be able to share the Gospel. Again. And this time they listened with rapt attention, with a receptive heart. I prayed with them right there on the phone, although they did not accept Christ at that moment.


I did, however, suggest they go to church (one I suggested because I knew they would hear good Gospel-oriented teaching). They attended and loved it.


Months later—after attending church and being witnessed to and encouraged by others—they called me to say they had surrendered their life to Jesus and had made Him Lord of their life. They then joined a Bible study and grew exponentially in their faith, and even started ministering (and witnessing!) at a local VA Hospital.


It was a turning point in their life.


Mine, too.


I was humbled, and chastened a bit, too. Even though I had given up hope on my family, God hadn’t. He had known all along that this particular sibling would come to Christ. But this sibling’s conversion would be in His time and in His way. Not mine.


Fast forward three years and my other sibling went through their own personal upheaval—a divorce. Devastated, they turned to me for comfort. It was, again, an open door to share the love of Christ, the hope of healing, and the Good News. They were ready to listen. And months later, they too accepted Jesus as their Savior.


Two sibling conversions in a matter of three years? I was overjoyed.


And further humbled. How could I have doubted God? Why had I given up? Doesn’t 2 Peter 3:8 say, “that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day”?


If my siblings’ conversions have taught me anything, it is this: What is time to God? His salvation has its own timeframe. And it is not mine!


My faith and hope have been renewed. I have new hope that my mom can—and may—still come to Christ. As long as she has breath, there is hope.


And there is time. Time for me to continue to pray for her soul. Time for me—and now my forever siblings—to witness to her through our words, our lives, and our actions. Time for her to see her sin and her need to be saved. Time for her to bow the knee to Jesus and receive the free and glorious gift of salvation.


Never give up. As long as there is time and breath in your body (and theirs), there is hope.


PS

This past weekend I went to visit my mother, who is now living in a memory care facility. The week before, she received some devastating medical news: her aortic aneurism is growing and there is nothing that can be done for it. Basically, she's received a death sentence. While we were visiting, God graciously opened an opportunity for me to talk to Mom about what it means to have peace with Christ. She was receptive, open. She asked a simple question, "What's your relationship with Jesus like?" This from a woman who's been hostile to God ever since my conversion. It was truly God's kindness working in her hurting heart. I answered her question, I encouraged her to read the Psalms, which would be a comfort to her in this time. Again, my hope is renewed for her salvation. I will be praying that the "seeds of truth" take root in her heart. And I am grateful to God for His unfailing mercy and pursuit of the people I thought unreachable. With God, all things are possible!









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