The first person I ever witnessed to was my sister, Barbara.
I asked Jesus to be my Savior in the spring of 1965. I remember sitting in a little Baptist church in Tucson, Arizona, realizing, for what seemed like the first time in my life, that Jesus had died for me. Not just for the world, but actually for me. My world was rocked. The only response I could think of was to thank Him, and then offer Him back my life, telling Him He could do whatever He wanted to do with me for the rest of my life. I was seventeen.
The very next thing I thought of was that I wasn’t sure whether or not my younger sister – she was sixteen – knew this amazing thing about Jesus. The Lord was very clearly giving me a huge urging to share the Gospel with her.
I was the perfect picture of conflicting emotions. You see, Barb and I were not exactly good friends. In fact, I had spent most of my life trying to make her feel unimportant because I was jealous of her. She was blond; I was plain old brunette. She was thin; I fought a losing battle with the bulge. She was fun and carefree; I was serious. She could whine and get what she wanted; I never asked for anything and wanted to depend only on myself. We were different and I didn’t trust her…she probably didn’t trust me, either.
So – now I was a believer in Jesus Christ, and I was supposed to invite her to my new church? Introduce her to my new friends? Watch her be the life of the party in the middle of my new world? Nope. Didn’t want to do it.
The pressure from God was so great on me to share my faith with Barbara that I could actually feel it. Even though I was just learning about knowing and following the will of the Lord I knew one thing – when God wants you to do something there is no avoiding it.
I grudgingly invited her to church, and, just as I feared, she was well-liked by all my new friends. The jealousy in me was growing. I watched her laugh and make jokes with my youth group and I despaired. Why, Jesus, would you give me this wonderful new life and then yank it away from me?
I drove and she didn’t, so I was her transportation to and from church. One Sunday night as we pulled into our driveway I knew this was the time to talk to her about Jesus. I still didn’t want to…but I knew I just had to. I asked her if she wanted to ask Jesus to be her Savior, knowing that once I got this over with I could stop feeling guilty and could get on with life.
I still remember her answer. I can still see the dashboard of our car and the blackness of the night outside. I can still feel the shock to my body as she whispered “yes”. In an instant of time I became someone else. I looked at Barb and realized I loved her. I bowed my head and prayed with her as she gave her life to Jesus, and I sensed an unusual feeling inside of me where all that hate and jealousy had been. The jealousy and distrust were simply gone. In their place was a desire to protect and love her which has not faded in over fifty years.
Why was the book of Jonah given to us by God? I think it was just so we would know there have always been weak and selfish people like us, given impossible jobs to do by God.