In just under three weeks, the first of four mission teams will be heading off to various cities in Colombia to partner with local churches. As part of our effort to clearly present the Gospel, our teams offer up dramas, short talks, and relate different stories, some fictional and others true, that clearly show man’s terrible plight and God’s saving plan.
One such story we will be sharing this year while on mission was crafted by one of our rising juniors, Robin Meeks. This is a fine example demonstrating how a story, nearly any story, can be turned into a full-orbed Gospel presentation. Please enjoy it and pray that many would join us in the river!
“On October 7th, 1825, in Miramichi (Mir-ra-mah-SHE), New Brunswick, there was a huge forest fire. It had been a particularly hot and dry summer, making the forest at high risk for a forest fire, but no one knows exactly how it started.
When the fire first started, a man named William Wright noticed the fire and ran into the cities warning of the coming danger. “There’s a forest fire!” he cried. “It’s coming too quickly to run away, but if we go to the river and get in the water, we’ll be safe from the flames.” Apparently, not very many people believed him. They couldn’t see the fire, so why fear it? He was likely just making things up.
Well, as everyone soon found out, Mr. Wright was not making things up. The fire spread fast, and it soon became one of the largest forest fires in North America. At one point, it’s estimated that the flames were spreading at a rate of almost 100 km/hr (60 mph). Imagine a huge, raging forest fire spreading throughout your town at the speed of a car. I can’t even imagine what that would be like.
Those that heeded Mr. Wright’s warning quickly headed for the river. It was October, and in Miramichi, the average low temperature for October is 3 degrees C (38 degrees F). Imagine how cold this river must have been! But those that believed that the fire was coming knew that they could only be saved if they took shelter in the freezing waters. I can imagine those people begging their friends and family to join them in the water. Some agreed, but others refused. They’d make it on their own, they thought. The fire was just a made-up story, after all. They didn’t need to take shelter.
It’s estimated that hundreds of people died in those forest fires. The wildfire wiped out 16,000 square kilometers (almost 6,200 square miles) of forests, and the town of Miramichi was completely destroyed in a mere three hours. Only those that stayed in the river survived.
You and I are like the people in this story. Something big and terrible and dangerous, like a forest fire, is coming: God’s wrath. When we die, God’s wrath will come because of how wretched and horrible and sinful we are. Every person on the planet deserves to be wiped out for the horrible things we’ve all done. Everyone, including you and I, have rejected God and relied on ourselves. Because of that, God will send judgment, or punishment, on humanity. Like a blazing forest fire, no one can escape His wrath on their own.
But there’s good news! God has offered an escape from this punishment: Jesus Christ. In the story, William Wright came through the villages warning of the coming danger and telling them to go to the river if they wanted to be saved. That’s why we are here today. We are warning you of God’s punishment and telling you the good news: Jesus Christ is the river.
Thousands of years ago, Jesus, the son of God, came to earth and lived a completely blameless and perfect life. He never sinned once. Then, He was crucified on a cross, and three days later, He came back to life. Through dying, Jesus took the punishment we all deserve. God’s punishment, His wrath, was poured out on Jesus instead of on us. Because of this, if we trust in Jesus, He can take away our sins, and we will not have to experience God’s wrath. Since Jesus took our place and was punished for our sins, we can be saved. This is the only way to be saved. The people in the story thought they would be safe if they stayed in the woods instead of getting in the water. Don’t be like the people in this story who heard that the fire was coming yet refused to believe it.
But we can’t just believe it. If the people had simply stood beside the river and said that they believed the fire was coming, and that they knew the only way they could be saved was to jump into the river, it wouldn’t do much good. They would have to actually get in the water and trust that the water would save them. That’s what we are asking you to do. Trust that Jesus Christ’s death can save you from your sins. Then, allow Him to remove your sins from your life. When you do this, and only when you do this, you will be saved.
Will you join us in the river?”