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The Miracle of the Laundromat and the Used Car Lot

March 9, 2014

Having to select the topics to discuss in a survey of Acts in just one week is like being given only one hour to ride anything in Disney World – the selection is huge, and everything is magnificent.  Consider the subjects in just the first handful of chapters:

Jesus’ ascension and His charge to the disciples.

The arrival of the Holy Spirit and the formation of the first church in the history of Christianity.

Peter and John healing the lame man at the Beautiful Gate.

Annas’ intimidation tactics and Peter’s refusal to be bullied.

Saul’s conversion.

The martyrdom of Stephen.

Ah, that’s where I always stop.  The stoning of Stephen is one story that has locked into my soul ever since I can remember. Wow, does this narrative hit me hard every time I read it.  Think of the evil pulsing throughout the room.  The leaders were so angry with Stephen’s message of Christ that they literally ground their teeth in rage. Like children, they covered their ears and screamed, rushing at him in pure unadulterated hatred.

“But Stephen is filled with the Holy Spirit,” I told the class, “and what does he do?  He looks up.  Why?  Well, in chapter 1 it said that Jesus ascended up into Heaven, right?  So Stephen is looking to where Jesus headed, and sure enough, he saw Jesus, and that was enough to give him the grace to go through the brutal martyrdom he would need to endure.”

I pointed to the Power Point screen.  “‘Being filled with the Spirit’. To the Christian, that means looking to Christ.  It’s not some deep mysterious doctrine.  It’s looking to Jesus and letting Him lead and also comfort you while He’s doing the leading.”

I stop and glance around the room.  I see so many faces of students who have faced numerous obstacles and challenges and simply looked to Jesus.

Amy confronted her youth pastor with a sweet but firm Christian spirit because he was more concerned with entertainment than with teaching the Bible.

Carl counseled his parents with a Spirit-led demeanor as they bitterly considered divorce.

Bill responded in a gentle and wise Christlike manner to a former student who imagehad taken an apostate route and openly mocked Bill for his faith.

Jean dropped her career at the feet of Jesus and made the decision to go to the mission field.

It’s simply looking to Jesus and responding when He calls.

I recall especially the time while I was a single man in my first year of teaching out West.  I was doing some grocery shopping on a rare evening when I had some free time, and met up with thirteen-year old Juan as I was pushing my bags into the back seat of the car.  We got to chatting about school and how his grades were going, when I remembered I had some clothes in a dryer at a laundromat.

“Hey, I’ve got to grab some laundry right across the street,” I said.

“I’ll come with you,” he said, and followed me into the coin laundry.  There was a young man sitting, watching his clothes spin.  He nodded to me and pointed to my shirt-pocket Bible.  “Scripture?”  he asked.

“Yes, ” I replied, “it’s a Bible.  Are you a Believer in Jesus?”

“Uh…my English is no good… not very good,” he stammered.  “But I do want to know about…”  He was reaching for words.  I cursed myself for not being more fluent in Spanish.  This man was openly asking for spiritual answers, and I had only two years of study in a very mediocre high-school Spanish class.

Then the light bulb went on.  There stood Juan.

“Sir, ” I said to Jaun, “you are now an official interpreter.  This man has questions about eternity and we cannot walk away from this opportunity.  I will give you the answers from the Bible. You translate fluently for me, okay?  Nice and clear.”

Juan stepped forward without hesitation and grinned.  “Yeah, sure.  I’ll give it a try.”

And so it went.  No international United Nations gathering had more intensity and emotion than the translation efforts that took place in that tiny laundromat.  The young man, whose name was  Sebastian, fired question after question about Heaven, Hell, sin, forgiveness and Jesus’ salvation.  After twenty minutes I turned to Juan.

“Now it’s decision time,” I said to Juan.  “And you know how to do this, son.  You take over from here.  Carefully, carefully, walk Sebastian through the plan of salvation.  I’ll only slow you down.  You can do this.”

And Juan did.

He led Sebastian to the Lord.  Right during the spin cycle.

We rejoiced along with this new Christian and were happily heading across the street to my car.  “Wow, that was amazing,” said Juan, shaking his head.

“You’re right, my friend, God can do wonderful things through you if you just let Him.”

Jaun grinned and pointed past my car.  There was a used car lot.  A middle-aged Hispanic man was wandering around the rows, idly looking at cars.  “Well, then,” said Juan.  “Let’s do it again.”  I grinned and followed Juan toward the man.

“Hello,” I called to the man.  “I’m Brad Zockoll and this is my friend Juan…” I might as well come to the point, “…and we wanted to ask you if you knew the way to Heaven.  Do you know where you’ll be a hundred years from now?”

The man never hesitated.  “I have wondered this,” he said haltingly, “but you see, my English.. is weak… no good…”

“No problem,” I said cheerily, “I have my translator right here!”

And translating is just what Jaun did.  I will remember how this young man gestured and emphasized the deep and powerful path to Jesus Christ. The man’s eyes widened and he chattered in rapid-fire Spanish.  It wasn’t long before Juan took over.  I wasn’t needed; Juan knew how to lead the man to Christ.

And would you believe the man was so serious that he actually got on his knees in that used car lot and leaned against the bumper of a car, calling on Jesus to save him.  When he arose he excitedly asked for directions to a Spanish-speaking church – which Juan readily supplied.

It was a day to remember.  Juan walked over and leaned against my car, shaking his head.  “I’ve never had a day like this before.  God really worked, didn’t He?”

Yes, good friend, He did and He still does.  All He needs is for us to look for His leading.

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