Knocking on the door, we never knew who we would find on the other side. Personal evangelism was the class. Ed Sealy, the teacher. Fredericton, N.B was the place that each year became the target of a freshman class, zealous to wave yet another white hanky. For that was how we celebrated each and every person that we saw come to Jesus.
It was all part of the assignment, and we went at it happily, if nervously. I was the more outspoken one of our group and enjoyed it immensely when the visits resulted in debates over this or that doctrine. I could hold my own there.
But I was totally unprepared for what was behind one door on a Saturday afternoon in 1991.
Tentative knocking resulted in sounds of children. The door cracked, and the face of a dark-eyed girl, who we learned was but 13, looked at us with questions. Soon one or two other faces peeked out around the older girl.
"Are your parents at home?" asked this trio of Bible students.
"No, I'm actually just babysitting" she responded shyly.
Apparently we did not appear very frightening, and the girl continued to talk with us. We explained that we were there to tell them about Jesus. Had she heard of Him?
"No, but you can come in if you want."
The girl, Elizabeth, called the other children. "These girls are here to tell us about Jesus." Our audience immediately gathered around to hear what these strangers had to tell. Four children in all. Three had dark hair and eyes and olive complexions. Elizabeth was the older sister. Then one boy and one girl.
The fourth member of the group stood out from the others. His red hair and freckled nose immediately labeled him as a visitor in the mix. When asked he said, "Oh, I don't live here. I'm just visiting." His total lack of self awareness charmed us almost immediately. While the others were shy and quiet, this one spoke with abandon.
We sat in a group in that front room and talked of Jesus. Who He was. That He came as a baby and lived on the same earth on which we now live. We explained that He was different from us, because He was God. That He had come to earth because He loved us and wanted to help us out of our sin. And yes, that each one of us had sinned.
Each of those four children thought carefully and responded with sins they knew they had committed. They needed no prompting. They understood. And they sat, listening in wonder as they heard the story of the One Who loved them enough to give His all.
One by one, those four knelt down beside kitchen chairs and asked Jesus to forgive them for their sin and thanked Him for loving them that much. By that time, we three were in amazement at the readiness and pure faith of these children.
That was not the end though. If it had been, I probably would not be writing of it now. For after we prayed, these children began asking questions. Soaking in the truths of God's Word like sponges. I don't remember everything they asked. In fact, I only remember one question.
His name was Benji--that red-headed, freckled boy of seven. He looked at me with tears in his eyes and said, "What about those people who are in jail and can't hear what Jesus did? How will they know?"
I do not know why the Lord placed me in that home on that day nearly 20 years ago. Without doubt, there were many more that would have been better equipped to deal with the situation. But I have never forgotten Benji.
I do not know his last name, for he said he needed to go soon after asking me that question. I think I told him that it was the job of all of us who do know about Jesus to make sure that we tell everyone else...even those in jail.
I watched him run up the street. I prayed that he would come into contact with more Christians who could help him. I prayed that that boy would be a servant of God. At seemingly strange times, the Holy Spirit has brought to my mind a little boy with red hair, and I understood. "Pray for Benji."
Nine years later I held my newborn son in my arms. My husband and I had talked of this day. "His name is Benjamin" I said.
He turned ten years old yesterday--my Benjamin. Someday I hope to introduce him to another Benjamin...Benji. Because I believe that God had a special future for Benji. I pray for him still. And I pray for me....that I won't forget the question of a little boy who shouldn't have known about the spiritual needs of prisoners, but who changed my life forever with his simple question, "How will they know?"
"How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?" (Rom. 10:14)
"Say not ye, 'There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?' Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest." (Jn. 4:35)