In his book "Has Christianity Failed You?" Ravi Zacharias points to one of the greatest proofs for the truth of Christ and the reality of his resurrection: the changed lives of Christians.
"During the course of nearly 40 years, I have traveled to virtually every continent and seen or heard some of the most amazing testimonies of God's intervention in the most extreme circumstances. I have seen hardened criminals touched by the message of Jesus Christ and their hearts turned toward good in a way that no amount or rehabilitation could have accomplished. I have seen ardent followers of radical belief systems turned from being violent, brutal terrorists to becoming mild, tenderhearted followers of Jesus Christ. I have seen nations where the gospel, banned and silenced by governments, has nevertheless conquered the ethos and mind-set of an entire culture."
Rev. Kent Hinkel
Then in his own words Zacharias lists examples of Christ's power to transform lives:
In the middle of the 20th century, after destroying all of the Christian seminary libraries in the country, Chairman Mao declared that Christianity had been permanently removed from China, never to make a return. On Easter Sunday in 2009 however, the leading English language newspaper in Hong Kong published a picture of Tiananmen Square on page 1, with Jesus replacing Chairman Mao's picture on the gigantic banner, and the words "Christ is Risen" below it.
The British author A.N. Wilson, who only a few years ago was known for his scathing attacks on Christianity, celebrated Easter [in 2009] at a church with a group of other church members, proclaiming that that the story of the Jesus of the Gospels is the only story that makes sense out of life and its challenges. [Wilson said], "My own return to faith has surprised none more than myself . My belief has come about in large measure because of the lives and examples of people I have known-not the famous, not saints, but friends and relations who have lived, and faced death, in light of the resurrection story, or in the quiet acceptance that they have a future after they die."
Reflections, a mini-sermon written by Minot and area clergy, will appear each Saturday in The Minot Daily News. Clergy interested in writing a mini-sermon should contact Religion Editor Loretta Johnson at 857-1952 or Debbie Sandvold at 857-1950. The toll-free number is 1-800-735-3229.
Matthew Parris, a British atheist who visited Malawi in 2008, wrote an article titled "As an atheist, I truly believe Africa needs God." He wrote, "I've become convinced of the enormous contribution that Christian evangelism makes in Africa . I used to avoid this truth but Christians black and white, working in Africa, do heal the sick, do teach people to read and write; and only the severest kind of secularist could see a mission hospital or school and say the world would be better without it."
Today, let's give thanks that "God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8). The one who died also reminds us of his endless life: "I am the living one; I was dead, and now look, I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." (Revelation 1:17-18)
The Rev. Kent Hinkel is pastor of First Baptist Church in Minot.