There's Just Something About That Name
As I left customs, a young man offered to take my two suitcases, which I was handling just fine. However, I asked him his name, and he said, “Christian!” I told him the meaning and asked if he would like to be like Jesus! "Si, you gave my father, Mario, a Bible once! God transformed him from being an alcoholic." Right there, we prayed together, and Christian began his new life in Jesus.
My ride pulled up, and I loaded the car, but then I noticed two traffic officers. I greeted them and asked the first one his name. "Javier," he responded with a smile. "Your name means "a new house.” Wouldn't you like a new house in heaven?" I asked.
"Not now," he laughed. I continued, "But wouldn't you like to reserve a new house in heaven right now?" He answered, "Certainly, how do I do that?" … Another precious soul came into the kingdom. His partner was not to be left out. "Arturo? That was my father's name too!" It means "noble hero," I said. Arturo, a seeking heart, asked Jesus to be Savior, Lord, and King of his life." What joy! There is nothing like it.
And one final story about a trip I took into Bellavista, a large prison in Medellin, Colombia, once one of the most violent prisons in the world. I went to find Jeobany. Several of the staff had tried with no luck. A month had gone by since his capture. I found Christian (different from the one mentioned above), a young fellow I had previously led to the Lord, and we went in search of Jeobany, but we had no luck. I waited in the patio as he untiringly called out his name in all the wings. The brothers from the chapel came, and I gave them the things I had for him. I told them Jeobany's story, (he was caught driving a stolen car). They assured me they would take care of him. I left without seeing him. But during my hour and a half waiting in the patio, I saw 31 men accept Jesus as their Savior, including two prison guards. Each received a New Testament.
Friday, I went back in search of Jeobany. After searching and searching, I felt a hand on my shoulder. An unshaved, wooly Jeobany hugged me. It drew attention in the wing, and I soon was surrounded by inmates. I asked several what their real names were, then told them the meaning. Then, everyone wanted to know his own name's meaning. This is a great way of connecting. They all burst into laughter when I told one fellow, Santiago, what his name meant … engaño, to cheat, deceive. That is how they all got into prison! With a good group of men around me, I shared the Good News and invited them to accept Jesus! A male chorus belted out the sinner's prayer. A priceless moment. Each received a new NT. Then, I told Santiago, "The Truth, now lives in you. You no longer need to live up to your name as you have in the past." I prayed for them, knowing the hardships all of them are going through. The prison is terribly crowded. Jeobany slept in the bathroom his first night. The stairways are packed with bodies at night with no room to walk. Bellavista has almost five times more prisoners than it should…over 7,000, and it was built to house 1,500 men.
"Before the Christians redeemed this place with Jesus' blood, the prisoners chopped up dead bodies and put them into garbage bags. Today, men come out of here transformed to serve the Living God," I told them.
Then, a number of brothers in the Lord surrounded Jeobany. I asked him if he wanted to come back to Jesus. Humbly, Jeobany asked Jesus to forgive him and to do a new work in him. I prayed for him, then, we hugged. A different look shone in his eyes. Thank you, Jesus, I prayed inwardly, continue the work you began in him when he first asked you into to his life as an eight-year-old in my father's old workshop on the seminary campus. "Jeobany, this is now your family in prison. My brothers want to help you. Seek them out." I left with a full heart, rejoicing in the Spirit's work - a lost sheep was found.
--Jeannine Brabon, OMS missionary, serving in Colombia
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