One evening, I was driving my family in a city with the most circuitous road network in the world.
And I was completely lost.
My passengers were scared. It was late at night, and some roads had no street lamps. One of my passengers was my aging aunt, and she was a pessimistic person. She said, “Isn’t this the place were they salvage people and throw the dead bodies in the cogon grass?”
But everytime I asked for directions, people were very helpful. I think so many people have gotten lost in their streets already, some have made it a hobby to guide the lost.
The first person I asked said, “Keep going straight, and when you see a carabao on your right, turn left, and then…”
I interrupted, “Excuse me, but what if the carabao walks to another spot?”
“The carabao can’t walk. It’s a statue,” she said.
“Oh, I see.” (Malay ko ba?)
She went on, “Keep going straight, until you reach a Sari-Sari store selling Siopao, that’s when you turn left again…”
True enough, I found the carabao.
But the problem was finding the Sari-Saristore. Because there was a Sari-Sari store in every street corner. So I had to stop in every single one of them, asking if they sold Siopao.
But the second person I asked for directions was very different.
I stopped beside a guy sitting on an owner jeep. I opened my window, greeted him, and told him where I wanted to go.
He shook his head, “That’s a very difficult place. A lot of people get lost going there…”
He then did the unthinkable. He switched on the engine of his jeep and said, “Follow me. I’ll take you there.”
So there I was, following him through so many twists and turns, I stopped counting when I took the 26th turn. My aunt said, “That guy will kidnap us! And then he’ll kill us, steal our car, and throw our bodies in the cogon grass.”
But fifteen minutes later, he stopped the jeep and pointed to a house. It was exactly where I wanted to go. He then waved at us and sped off.
“You see, Auntie?” I told my passenger at the back, “Your kidnapper turned out to be an Angel. He didn’t kidnap us, kill us, and throw our bodies in the cogon grass.”
She said, “Hmph. Perhaps it’s his day off.”
That little incident made me realized there are two types of guides. The first one is a pointer. The second one is a bringer.
Many People Need A Guide
Friend, many people around you are lost.
They’re seeking for happiness but they don’t know how to go there. They’ve got huge problems but they don’t know how to solve them. And they want to grow closer to God but they don’t know what to do.
God calls you to be their guide. But you can do it in two ways. You can be a pointer or you can be a bringer.
Sometimes, because of limited time, you can only point. There are people you can’t communicate often.
But for the people who you see regularly, don’t just become a pointer. Be a bringer. Walk with them. Build a relationship with them. Share your life to them. And guide them towards God.
God is asking you today: Will you be their guide?
We Love Stories
Your story can change the world.
How can you bring a friend closer to God?
Answer: By your life story.
I believe your life story can change the world.
Stories are very powerful.
Around 2500 years ago, Plato said, “Those who tell stories rule society.”
Because we love stories so much, our hearts open up to the storyteller.
To this day, I read bedtime stories to my kids at night. Almost every night, my 5-year old Francis tells me, “Daddy, read me 3 books tonight!” Little kids love stories. And we never outgrow that love for stories.
You want proof? We paid $4.5 Billion to James Cameron so we could watch Avatar and Titanic—the two top grossing movies in the history of the world. But what are movies? They’re stories set in sights and sounds.
The best songs in the world are stories set in music.
The bestselling book (second to the bible) isChicken Soup for the Soul. They’ve sold 112 million copies. But what is Chicken Soup for the Soul? A collection of stories.
I reflect on my preaching ministry. The best talks I’ve given in the past 31 years were powerful stories too.
Even Jesus preached by telling stories about a hidden treasure, a great pearl, a mustard seed, a good Samaritan, and a prodigal son.
Why do stories have power over us?
3 Reasons Why Stories Are Powerful
1. Stories mesmerize. They grab our attention. When you hear a good story, all of a sudden, you’re ushered into a different world. You enter a different universe. Why does this happen? Because stories don’t just teach the mind but touch the emotions.
2. Stories materialize. A message can be a nice theory floating in the air with no legs on the ground. But a story will make you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell your message.
3. Stories magnetize. A personal, touching story will bring the hearts of both the storyteller and the story-listener together like no other thing in the world! They say the shortest path between two hearts is a story.
I repeat: Your story can change the world.
Do you have a friend or loved one you’d like to bring closer to God? Here are three steps to take…
3 Steps In Guiding People Closer To God
Step #1: Know Their Story
Step #2: Share Your Story
Step #3: Merge Your Stories
Step #1: Know Their Story
When you’re trying to guide someone closer to God, you have to hear their story before you share your story.
Why? Because you need to know the person’s felt need.
Perhaps he needs healing. Or perhaps a family problem is the thorn in her flesh. Or perhaps she’s broken hearted. Or perhaps he’s angry with God for taking away his baby.
I remember sitting beside a man on the plane. After introducing ourselves to each other, I asked him, “How is life treating you?”
Instantly, tears welled up in his eyes and he told me that a fire burned down his house. In the fire, he lost his wife and two daughters. I didn’t say much. Because I didn’t know what to say. But I told him, “Can I pray for you?” I put my hand over his shoulder and asked God to comfort and strengthen him. It was a Divine appointment. God wanted me to meet that man.
But what if I didn’t listen first? What if I told him, “Let me tell you my story. When I was a child, my parents and I—including my 5 sisters—were always together. We were one close family. We always did everything together…” Wouldn’t that be rubbing salt on his wound?
It’s always important to know their story.
Step #2: Share Your Story
Share what God has done in your life.
It could be a before-and-after story.
Or it could be an event where you saw the hand of God in your life.
My important suggestion: Expose your weaknesses.
Don’t give the false impression that because of God in your life, your entire life is all sweet and perfect. Share your current struggles. Share your warts.
Everytime I do this, not only do I feel better, I feel that people actually appreciate my authenticity. They believe me more.
Step #3: Merge Your Stories
After sharing your story, invite him to journey together.
Invite him to regular coffee time with you, so you can continue to build the friendship.
You can also invite him to your prayer gathering like the Feast.
Or a small group or caring group.
Or a spiritual retreat or a Kergma conference.
You can give him an inspirational book. Or forward him an article that will help him grow closer to God.
Let me end with the true story of Ryan. This is a perfect example of how life stories are powerful and can bring many people closer to God.
I’m Ryan and I’m 29 years old.I was such a mess a long time ago. I didn’t take school seriously, I lived a very promiscuous lifestyle, I abused substances, had a hateful relationship with my father who at that time was battling depression. I didn’t go to Mass. And when I prayed, I prayed hate prayers to Christ, questioning what it was he was doing to make life better for me.And then my dad died. Life was much more complicated, I continued to live a life of Godlessness, my relationships were poisonous, and at one point, I entertained thoughts of ending my own life, to end my so-called misery.
And then a friend invited me to a small youth prayer meeting. I was at that moment when I completely turned my life around. I got to know Jesus more, and how He was working double time to soften my hardened heart and receive his blessings.
11 years after today, I am a completely changed man. I wake up each day picking up a bible and reading God’s word, I hear Mass every Sunday, I have a loving relationship with my family and my girlfriend. I have a job that doesn’t feel like a job because I’m in love with it, and this coming June, I will send my first of many scholars to school – a dream I’ve had in my heart ever since.
I am work in progress. But I believe I’m blessed now with a better life because a Jesus invited me in His love, and I let Him enter my heart, my life.
I’m blessed with a better life now because a friend invited me to a small youth prayer meeting, where I was reintroduced to Jesus, my best friend.
What’s your story?
What’s your experience of God?
Use it to share God to others.
May your dreams come true,