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My Neighbor Surrendered His Life To Jesus Today: Full Story

Since the first time I pulled up to my drive way two years ago I have been in relationship with Ben. I love this guy so much. We play volleyball together and talk deeply on our way to the games. He has a very troubled past and has had no belief in God or religious experience. We have had many deep talks on those drives, but he has never followed through to meet with me outside those car rides to go deeper. I have been praying and praying and hoping and hoping for God to draw him close, and today it finally happened.

You can read about the first time Jesus came up in our conversation here. You can read an update to that first conversation here. This will give you perspective on a two year conversation and how his conversion has happened over time through God’s Spirit softening him, us doing life together, and me incarnating myself into his world. 

Here is the detailed story of how it happened and how our conversation went (I have his permission to share).

Ben pulled up in his car as I returned to church on Sunday and told, “I need to talk to you today, I need to give my life to someone else.”

We made an appointment for 8pm, like many days before. The other times he didn’t show up but I knew this was different. At 2pm while I was writing Ben surprisingly popped in and said, “shut the garage door, let’s talk now.”

We talked and he asked me to explain to him how to get close to god.

He said he is tired of feeling like shit (drinking too much, eating too much, and feeling emotionally down).

He told me a lot of inner demons that are with him from childhood and growing up -things that are continually tormenting him.

He said he wanted my help to stop drinking and to get onto a better path.

I said, “do you want my help getting over drinking, or do you want help coming into a relationship with God? I can help you get over drinking and be your friend in that journey without God in the picture, but if you want to know God also, then that is a different conversation.”

He said, “I have no idea what to ask about God. I don’t know anything. So ya, I want to know about God, but I don’t really know what I don’t know, does that make sense?”

So I decided to give him an analogy about Noah my son and what it would be like if he decided to live in rebellion to me and no longer wanted my protection, leading, encouragement, and provision. He would run into some problems and we would be able to see that this was because he kicked his dad out of his life.

“Ben, you have done this to God. He is a loving father and you have lived your life as if he is dead while the whole time he has wanted to give you leadership, provision, encouragement and such. Does that make sense?”

He said, that he was kind of confused. I interjected, “that makes sense because you had a lousy father growing up and the image of father is negative to you.”

He agreed.

He said, “Give it to me simple. What is the simple reality of God?”

I was stuck for a min. How do I help someone that knows nothing about God understand him in simple terms? I mean I could give him the four point gospel, creation, fall, redemption, return or just give him the straight “you are a sinner and Jesus died for you” talk. But Ben is a simple man I and knew I needed to give it to him in a simple analogy.

Then God gave it to me.

Neighborhood Cats

A month ago our neighbor across the street got arrested and his cats were therefore stray. Ben and his wife Sue are TOTAL Cat people. Since that day they have been wooing this stray cat over to their house with food. The cat has infected ears, doesn’t trust people and is in bad shape. The owner who was arrested was a lousy owner. Every day Sue comes outside and talks to the cat, feeds it and tries to pet it. Over the last month the cat has warmed up to her and lets her pet it but not pick it up yet. It even sleeps in my front porch chair every night.

So I told Ben,

“you are like that cat.” You have been under the leadership of a bad owner; your dad, and you are wounded. But God is like Sue who is trying to woo you into his house. He wants to care for you, heal you, and lead you into a good life. But that cat doesn’t trust Sue and has no idea what Sue can do for it.

In the same way, you don’t know God, and don’t know if you can trust him. But Ben, he wants to heal you, he want s to care for you, and he proved that on the cross.

How do we know God loves us Ben?

Paul, an early convert to Jesus way, says to his letter to the Romans, that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us. You and I might die for (probably not) someone we love. But God is so loving that while we were against him he died for our sins on the cross. All so we could have new life with his resurrection. He gave his life for us while we had our back turned against him all because he loved us so much.

Here is my simple point. You can trust God. He has infinite amounts of love and healing to give you if you would role over and surrender like you want that cat to do so for you. That cat needs to roll over and let Sue pick it up. You need to roll over and let God pick you up. Sue wants to heal his infected ears. God wants to heal your wounded past. But you have to let him into your life and to trust him. Over time, you can learn more and more about him but to start you have to let him pick you up and bring you into his house. If that cat did that, he would be healed in a week. You know that Ben!” ( I was really going for it here and almost crying…he was crying).

Does that make sense or hit home?

Ben emphatically said, “I am that Cat!” I totally resonate.

The Gospel Through Cats

For the rest of our time I explained the gospel to him through the cat metaphor and he said, “I want God today. I want to roll over for him and let him pick me up.”

Let me remind you that this is a 52-year-old tough man. We are crying over a cat metaphor. God works in simple and mysterious ways.

I said to him two things need to happen today. One, you need to surrender (roll over) and confess that you have been leading your own life and now you want God to be the leader. Secondly, you need to call out to God to heal you and invite him into your life to heal you and your infections and wounds.

You need to surrender and you need healing.

He then said, “I want to do that today. But I don’t know anything about God?”

I said, “you need to trust me and you need to have faith that God is real and wants to care for you. Just like that cat needs to trust Sue is good, you need to trust that God is good. Once you surrender to his care and leadership, I can then teach you his ways and how to live this out day to day.”

You need a one time, today moment: surrender to God – roll over like a cat. Let him pick you up.

Then you need every day moments of learning how to walk out God’s ways and learn his character. You need to come over to the man cave every day and read scripture with me and learn to pray. We need to learn God’s character and what he is like so you can follow him well and be transformed in your life.

He said, “I trust you and I want to give my life to God right now. I feel like ever since you have moved into your house something has been trying to keep me away from you. Like some force.”

The Devil

I then explained to him the Devil and John 10, “The devil is real and he has come to steal kill and destroy your life. He does not want you to surrender to God or go to him for healing. He wants to keep you as a stray cat.

But Jesus has come to give life and life abundantly. He will heal you and lead you and give you purpose if you surrender. Does that make sense or is that too spooky?”

He said, “It totally makes sense. I get it. I want God.”

So I said, “we need to pray right now and I want to lead you into confession of your sin and acknowledgement of God’s presence. Then I want to lead you in a prayer that asks for healing and then I am going to pray over you to break off strongholds.”

Prayer of Salvation

So we prayed a repeat after me prayer and he prayed out loud.

“God, I acknowledged I have been leading my own life away from you and I want to stop that today.

I believe today that Jesus Christ is God.

That he did died on the cross for the sins of the world.

I believe he buried those sins in the grave.

I believe he rose from the dead giving us new life and power to live differently and new lives.

I want to surrender my life to you Jesus today. I don’t understand much about you God, but I believe you are real and I want to surrender to you just like that cat needs to surrender to Sue. I trust you God.

God, I also want to ask you for your healing. I have wounds, baggage and pain.

I want you to rip every dark force and addiction out of my life.

I want you to silence the negative and destructive voices.

I want to be free.”

Then I prayed over him, 

“God, I pray in the name of Jesus and by the power of the Holy Spirit that you would bind every dark force in Ben’s life and drive out every spirit that is not of your kingdom. I pray that you would fill Ben now with your Holy Spirit. Come live in him and be near to him. Teach him your character and teach him how to follow your lead. Amen.”

I asked him how he felt and he said his hands were tingling and that he felt peaceful and light. I then read him the parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 and explained to him that he was a lost sheep and God has been pursuing him for years. I said to him, “Ben, do you understand how much God loves you? He moved me in next door two years ago knowing that I would intentionally try and reach you and help you know God’s love and leadership.” He said to me, “that is pretty cool. Wow.”

I explained to him that we need to start meeting every day and learning how to walk this out. This is not about a moment or an emotion but about living under the leadership of Jesus. I also said to him that you will have guys in your life and at work that God has designed you to reach. We may need to start a group to help them learn about Jesus and lead them to God’s love. I can help you do that.

[4 Tools I am Using to Disciple My Neighbor]

He said, “Sounds good and I want to start coming to your men’s group that meets in the man cave during the week.”

I told him,

“This Friday night at 8:30pm”

He said, “I will be there.”

We hugged, I told him I loved him and he left.

WOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! Praise God!!! I am jacked up. No better feeling than seeing new life in the Kingdom! I have been praying and loving on Ben for 2 years. Literally since the moment I drove into the drive way fro the first time.

How does this inspires you and or give you faith? Please leave a comment below

[You can read about the first time Jesus came up in our conversation here. You can read an update to that first conversation here. This will give you perspective on a two year conversation and how his conversion has happened over time through God’s Spirit softening him, us doing life together, and me incarnating myself into his world.]

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4 comments

  1. Beautiful story! What a great picture of God’s persistence worked out through your relationship with Ben. Thanks for sharing, as now I am encouraged to continue pressing into relationships that have been longsuffering as well.

      • Your boldness in separating the conversation about alcoholism and help with that and the conversation about life with Christ is helpful and inspiring! I’ve been in many conversations like that and satan had always worked to keep it on the former… This is a real encouragement! Praise God!

        • Awesome Curtis. I’m glad that is helpful to you. I always like to ask the person what conversation they want to have – especially if the conversation starts out of a felt need.

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