October 30, 2007
Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem.” Acts 9:13
When pictures of the planes tearing into the twin towers of the World Trade Center were broadcast to the maximum-security federal prison in Florence, Colorado, some of the prisoners were very pleased.
Ramzi Yousef may have been one of the men who danced in joy. After all, had he not helped plan the first attempt to bomb those Towers in 1993?
Now, at least according to a CBS “60 Minutes” broadcast, Yousef has denounced Islam and been converted to Christ. Those who believe the sincerity of his conversion point to the fact he has shaved his beard, that he has stopped reading the Muslim Koran, and that he has been eating pork.
Those who have doubts about his relationship with the Savior are sure the whole conversion thing is a ruse. For example, the former federal prosecutor of New York, Andrew McCarthy, showed his skepticism about Yousef’s sincerity when he asked, “Does Christianity get a vote on whether to accept him?”
On one level, of course, McCarthy’s question is unanswerable. Nobody but the Lord has the ability to look into a human heart to see if it has been changed and the Savior is ruling there. To go beyond that fact, in many ways, is pure conjecture.
Even so, Scripture does contain a similar case where the Holy Spirit and the Savior brought about an unlikely conversion. Saul was as unlikely a recruit for Christianity as anyone might imagine. A devoted servant of the Jewish Sanhedrin, Saul was dedicated to eliminating the Savior’s Name and anyone who followed Him. Still, after a miraculous meeting with the Christ on the road to Damascus, Saul was changed.
The Lord knew it, but no one else did. That’s why, when the Lord asked Ananias to minister to blind Saul, he replied, “Lord, I’ve heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done.” Even so, Ananaias went to Saul and was able to see, firsthand, the wonders of what the Holy Spirit can do.
Now, it’s not likely that you will ever meet with Mr. Yousef. On the other hand, you may be surrounded by people on whom the Holy Spirit is working. For their sakes, I encourage you to do a difficult thing: Don’t write them off on the basis of past performance. On the contrary, encourage them to follow the Savior. After all, you just never know what might happen.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks that through Word and Sacrament You have shared the gracious story of salvation with me, a poor, miserable sinner. Now I pray for those whose hearts do not know you as Savior. Send Your Holy Spirit so they may know and believe that in You there is forgiveness and life eternal. In Your Name. Amen
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries