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If we’re Christians, we’re not now what we once were. A great change has been wrought in our souls and our future. The apostle Paul captures it well:

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-11)

Which of the nouns describe your past? Most of them fit me: sexually immoral, idolater, adulterer, thief, greedy, drunkard, reviler, and swindler. I was not destined for the kingdom of God but for hell. “And such were some of you.”

I still marvel at God’s great grace and salvation. I marvel that I was that lost. I shudder when I remember that I was lost and I was confident I was right. “But….” The gospel and our evangelism is about that “But….” It’s the sweetest three letter word in the Bible. It turns the entire direction of a text and introduces a possibility so unlike the past or present it can sometimes hardly be believed. But God still interrupts people with “Buts….”

I was encouraged in my own evangelism by this account of a woman who was a thief and swindler. She was also a Muslim in danger of not inheriting the kingdom of God. “But….”

Miriam is one of Julia’s friends. She’s the one who severely stole from us a little over a year ago. Julia caught her, but also forgave her. Miriam stealing from us has been the best opportunity we’ve had to speak and show the gospel to Miriam. She later watched some evangelistic films we gave her and began reading some Scripture. At the end of the summer, however, she announced a new found desire to dive deeper into Islam, and even placed her niece into the local Muslim school. This new push into Islam also included a distancing from us, so that we had very little contact with her between August and December. All of a sudden, the week of Christmas, she came over for tea, unannounced.

It wasn’t exactly the best timing for Julia to drop everything and play the hostess for hours. But Julia’s angst and the bad timing only underscored the sincerity of what was taking place. Miriam poured out her heart to Julia: “Islam can’t help me. It doesn’t have the truth like Jesus does. Islam and Jesus are different!” She declared that she wanted to follow Jesus, and intuitively recognized that it meant breaking from Islam and joining a church. Julia asked her, “Who is Jesus to you?” to which she immediately replied “My Savior!” Miriam didn’t actually say “Son of God” or “God” during their conversation, but Julia again taught her about Jesus and the gospel very clearly, and it seems evident that Miriam regards Jesus as more than a mere prophet.  She pleaded to come to church with us that weekend!  She came with us to the local worship gathering on Sunday, December 30th. She seems to have genuinely converted. Her characteristic arrogant demeanor has markedly changed. We could never have imagined a Miriam this humble! Please pray for her growing grasp of the gospel and the divinity of Christ, that she will attend the church gatherings faithfully, that she might be baptized very soon, and finally that the church members would more warmly receive her.

I love how the Father met this woman as she was running headlong in the opposite direction! I love that though she seems to have tried delving deeper into Islam, He scooped her out of her sin and showed her the glorious difference in Jesus! Lord, show that difference again and again and again! Help me tell others in a way that they see the difference, too.

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5 thoughts on “And Such Were Some of You”

  1. Thabiti some great thoughts here, I too would lay claim to most of those words and might I add thug. However I was saved when I was eight and became all those things later. It is also why I am so thankful for Phillipians 1:6 and that his grace is new every morning. A great story on the Muslim girl, really is the truth.

    I actually belive there is some connection between this post and your second post this morning Learning to Be the Moral Minority from a Moral Minority, don’t you think?

    Wanted you to know that your humility and transparency on your own struggles with personal evangelism has so hightened my own weakness in this area have begun working on seeing each encounter through a different lense. Thanks again for that transparency.

    Thanks for writing a very personal post and always your transparency.

  2. Wesley says:

    Hallelujah! What a Saviour! Thabiti, sir i have never heard your testimony of God’s grace in saving you before. Is there a post or video where i can read/hear about that story?
    God’s peace –

    1. Thabiti Anyabwile says:

      Hi Wesley,

      I’m glad the post encouraged you. I too was encouraged by the Lord’s work in this lady’s life! Praise God!

      You could hear my testimony here:

      Or here:

      Grace and peace,

      1. Wesley says:

        Wow. wow. wow. wow. wow! Just listened to the Capitol Hill audio. Can’t say how blessed and inspired i am by your testimony sir. Everyone always wants to run right to the apostle Paul when they talk about people who were running in a totally opposite direction from God and the He just sovereignly stops them in their tracks and makes them His own, but i’ve come to see that the Scriptures are filled with such stories, and yours is no less one of these same stories. It gives me so much hope to see that human foolishness and stubborn, defiant will are no match for God and that no matter how opposite someone’s direction may be from God, He can turn them in an instant, or over a period of months and years, back towards Himself into His loving embrace.
        So grateful for your story sir and for all the work you do and share for God’s kingdom and the honour of His great Name.
        God’s peace –

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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