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Email tells news from coffee shop visit months ago

FORT WORTH, Texas (BP) — When Brandon Kiesling checked his email, he discovered a message from a man he met on a mission trip to Australia more than a year earlier.

“You most probably don’t remember who I am,” Todd wrote to Kiesling in late September, “but we spent an afternoon together and discussed certain misgivings I had regarding Christian theology.” Kiesling, instructor of evangelism at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, recalled the conversation, remembering that they spent several hours in a coffee shop speaking about the Christian faith.

Kiesling had pleaded with him to turn to Christ, but Todd was not ready at the time. Fourteen months later, however, Todd wrote in his email, “Well, there remains plenty I don’t understand, but I believe I know enough that I feel compelled to be baptized next month.”

Todd, who has been attending a Baptist church in Brisbane, attached to his email a copy of the testimony he would share with the congregation during his baptism. Todd’s testimony communicated how witnessing encounters such as the one he had with Kiesling ultimately led him to profess faith in Christ.

Todd grew up in a Christian home but later adopted a postmodern worldview, essentially believing that everyone’s ideas about God were right. “Merely drifting through life for many years, an undercurrent of emptiness remained within me that I did not know how to address,” Todd wrote. “I existed in a lost state, striving after things that could never fulfill but not knowing how to live any differently.”

But God was at work in Todd’s life. “Every so often, I’d encounter Christians — while traveling, in the workplace, on the street, or even through mainstream media,” he said. “In retrospect, they may have had quite varied theologies, but what held them together in my mind then was the central character of Jesus Christ.”

Such encounters kept Todd thinking about spiritual matters, and whenever people invited him to church, he accepted. As he attended more often, the truths of God’s Word that he heard through sermons and even hymns began to cut “straight through” to his heart. Gradually, the message of the Gospel became clear.

“I came to recognize my own innate sinfulness in view of my transgressing God’s law and hence my desperate need for a Savior from such godlessness,” Todd said. “I learned how God provided that Savior in the person of Jesus Christ, creator of the universe, who came to earth in the flesh, fully man and fully God, living a sinless life and thereby fulfilling the requirements of the law on my behalf; who was crucified, a substitutionary atonement for my iniquities, taking on Himself the punishment that was all men’s due in His sheer mercy.”

In response to such mercy and grace, Todd believed in his heart that Jesus rose from the dead and he confessed with his mouth that Jesus is Lord. As Todd acknowledged to Kiesling, there remains much about Christianity that he does not yet grasp, but he thanks God for His patience and faithfulness.

In sharing this good news with Kiesling, Todd concluded, “Thank you for the ministry you provided whilst here, mate. I appreciated your taking the time to sit and chat with me that day in addition to your sermons.”

Kiesling, in light of Todd’s story, noted, “Sometimes we may think our evangelistic efforts fail, but God could be up to something that we don’t see at the time. Praise God for another soul entering the Kingdom!”

    About the Author

  • Alex Sibley