“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) The implication of this verse is quite stunning. You may gain all of the wealth, riches, and treasure that this world has to offer, but, if in doing so you lose your soul, then you ultimately are the loser. That is the worth of a soul to one’s self, but what about the worth of a soul to God?
The soul of a man is worth enough to God that He was willing to give His most precious possession—His only begotten Son— in order to redeem that soul from Hell. The worth that God places upon a soul is undeniable and undebatable. But what about the worth of a soul to you and me? I mean, how much is it really worth to us in terms of time, effort, and money to see that a soul has had every chance to not only hear the Gospel, but come to Christ?
As I write this, it is one o’clock in the morning, and I can’t sleep. I received word tonight that a cancer-stricken woman out in the village where we have a weekly ministry just passed into eternity. I am happy that eleven days ago she placed her faith in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, and I am thankful that her pain and suffering are now over. Several of us visited her last Saturday while we were out in the village, and she was in horrible pain. Since then, our prayer has been specifically that God would just take her home quickly, and I am relieved in my spirit that tonight He did just that.
As I meditate upon this precious soul who has passed into eternity tonight, little memories keep popping into my mind. Little things that perhaps seemed insignificant at the time, but now, in hindsight, I believe they played a huge role in bringing this woman to Christ. Although I have known her for about nine years, I am unsure of her name. It is very common here in Cambodia to call someone by a familial title and not their actual name. I call her Ohm (an older aunt).
Here are ten factors that I believe ultimately contributed to the salvation of Ohm’s precious and valuable soul. Perhaps these thoughts will encourage someone to keep sowing the seed, keep watering the seed, and not be weary in well doing.
1. Our Village Ministry
Nine years ago I made my first trip to the neighboring villages of Prey P’douw and Chomka Chun because two men I had led to Christ in Phnom Penh asked me to go to their villages and share the Gospel with their friends. We’ve had many ups and downs in this village ministry. We have seen many people saved from those and other nearby villages, but we have also faced many discouraging and trying times.
In fact, I am ashamed when I think of just how many times I have asked myself, “Is it really worth driving out here every Saturday?” But at this particular moment, I am more glad than ever that we started this ministry. A woman is in Heaven tonight because of it.
2. Our Children’s Ministry
Over the years, our children’s ministry has provided a link to many homes in several villages. Many of the adults have never expressed interest in knowing more about Christ; however, they have seen the love and investment that we have showed to their children, and I think that counts for something.
When we first started the children’s ministry, Ohm’s youngest son got saved and was a very faithful attendee. He has since grown up and moved away, but in recent years her grandchildren have been faithfully attending. I can’t prove this, but I have a strong suspicion that all of the years of building up trust through our children’s ministry played a part in this woman’s listening to the Gospel in her hour of need.
3. Special Days
There may have been a few other times, but the only time that I know for sure that Ohm came to one of our services was one year when we had a special service to honor all the mothers. We had a good turnout that day. Many of the teens and children stood and publicly declared their love and gratitude for their mothers, each mother was given a small gift, and the Gospel was preached. While she did not get saved until many years later, she heard the Gospel that day and also was given Gospel literature.
4. Faithfulness in Trials
A few years after starting the ministry in the village, our 22 month-old daughter, Faith, was unexpectedly taken home to Heaven. I remember one day after we had returned to Cambodia I was walking down the trail to the place where we hold our services and Ohm came out of her house and called me over. She wanted to ask how Faith had died and how our family was doing.
Anyone who knows Cambodian culture will know that for her to ask about how our family was holding up was extremely unusual, as Cambodians almost never get into deep conversations regarding matters of the heart. I was totally taken back by that brief conversation, but I was thankful to have had the opportunity to tell her of the grace of God and the hope of Heaven. I had the distinct impression that she was impressed—not with me, but with our faith.
About five years passed. Her son grew up and moved away. One of her older sons gave her some young grandkids to raise, and they began to faithfully attend our services. We saw her often while coming and going, but she never really opened up to the Gospel.
Then her whole life changed when, less than a year ago, she was diagnosed with cancer. I was in the states on furlough, and Brother Chad Phillips was covering our ministry in my absence. Not only did Brother Phillips not have a history with this woman, but he didn’t even know some of the history that I did have with her. All he knew was that the grandma of some of our faithful little children was ill and needing encouragement, prayer, and most importantly, the Gospel.
He began to visit her often after he concluded the children’s service. He witnessed to her, but she still wasn’t ready to be saved. The biggest thing he did though was to display Christ’s love to her. It is interesting to note that in the six years I have known Brother Phillips, the verse I have most often heard him reference as a verse that has greatly impacted him personally is 1 John 4:17 which says, “...as he is, so are we in this world.” Brother Phillips takes this verse seriously and it helped to bring Ohm to Christ.
Our church in Phnom Penh has an annual Christmas tradition of taking a food offering on Christmas Sunday morning which is then distributed to needy families. The goal is always to find some non-church families who are in great need (not a hard quest in Cambodia) and use the food items to show God’s love to them.
Most years the offering will be divided among numerous families. This past year, however, the Lord laid it on Brother Phillip’s heart to give the entire offering to Ohm since in addition to her newly diagnosed cancer, she was also raising four young grandchildren with no help from anyone. That offering made a huge impact on her. Although she was yet unsaved, she knew that the folks in our church had sacrificially and voluntarily given a large amount of food to help meet her needs.
7. The Word of God
At this point in the timeline, I returned from my furlough and began to visit her weekly. Her health was failing quickly, but her heart had opened up considerably to the Gospel due to all of the previous seeds planted over the years.
I spent several consecutive weeks carefully teaching her the Gospel, and she listened with great interest. After I completed my presentation of the Gospel, it became evident that she believed much of what God’s Word said regarding Jesus Christ; however, she was unwilling to place herself in the category of “sinner.” Of course, the Bible teaches clearly that a person cannot be saved until they first admit they are not saved. I remember going home that day thinking, “Now what?” But of course, the Bible tells us that “...faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17).
Over the next several visits I determined to simply get more of the seed of God’s Word planted into her heart. I read to her of the proud Pharisee and the humble publican, and which one of the two went away justified. I read from Isaiah sixty-four about how God sees our attempts at righteousness. I read to her of Heaven and of Hell. I read to her about the Lamb’s Book of Life. Praise the Lord, the incorruptible seed of the Word of God took root and began to grow.
Of course, we made Ohm a major matter of daily prayer. I know that several distant relatives of hers (who are also members of our church) were praying faithfully for her. Brother Phillips and I were both praying for her.
We asked the entire church to pray for her. I asked hundreds of people who receive my email updates to pray for her. I requested prayer for her on Twitter. I believe that there were many people praying for her, and thankfully, God hears and answers prayer!
The last two times I visited her before her salvation, I asked three different men in our church (two of whom are related to Ohm) to come with me and tell her about how they first realized that they could not get to Heaven by depending upon themselves. These three men gave unbelievably good, strong, passionate testimonies of how God had brought them to a place of understanding, repentance, and faith in Christ. I saw her listen to all three of them with great interest, and shortly after hearing the last one testify, she expressed that she now could see that her only hope of Heaven was in the person of Jesus Christ!
The way the Lord used so many people
to impact Ohm was truly a beautiful thing. Some witnessed, some prayed, some
helped meet a physical need, some shared their testimonies, and God gave the
increase (1 Corinthians 3:6).
What is the worth of a soul?
It’s worth our time.
It’s worth our labor.
It’s worth our money.
It’s worth getting involved.
It’s worth caring and loving.
It’s worth an extra trip.
It’s worth getting home late.
It’s worth any perceived inconvenience.
It’s worth laboring in prayer.
It’s worth meeting someone’s temporal need.
It’s worth enduring adversity.
In a word—it’s worth everything.
This article was originally published on The Missionary Memo.