My son, Kenny, recently sent me this unbelievable news article from the Tampa Bay Times:
A Boise woman is facing charges after police say she attacked a Jewish acquaintance and beat her as part of a bizarre bid to convert her to Christianity.
Marguerite Haragan, 59, showed up at the victim’s home on Feb 5. Haragan “was banging on the front window yelling at her that she better believe in Jesus and she was not going to leave until she did believe in Jesus,” Ada County Prosecutor Dave Roscheck said.
When the woman opened her door, Haragan grabbed her by the hair and dragged her to the ground. “The defendant began kicking the victim in the stomach and thigh area, Roscheck said. During this time the defendant was screaming at the victim that she better accept Jesus or she would not let up.” The woman eventually said that she’d convert and Haragan let her go.
As crazy as this story sounds, it’s true. The Idaho Statesman reports that Haragan has been charged with two felony counts of malicious harassment. In the meantime she is undergoing a court ordered psychiatric evaluation before her next court appearance on March 24.
Jesus wants people to believe in Him, confess Him as Christ, and obey His Word (John 8:24; Matt 10:32-33; John 14:15). Following His resurrection, Christ charged the apostles in the Great Commission (Mark 16:15-16) to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”
The Acts of the Apostles records men like Peter, Paul and Philip taking the Good News of the Gospel to the far corners of the Roman world. By the hundreds and thousands people left Judaism, paganism and religious superstition to become followers of Jesus. Paul was not ashamed to say “we persuade men” to obey the Gospel.
However, conversion was not accomplished by coercion. Paul’s practice was to present evidence that Jesus was the Christ and offer a rational basis for their obedience. When he came to Corinth, the Bible says, “he reasoned in the synagogue every Sabbath, and persuaded both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4)
Torture, threats and intimidation are not Jesus’ method of converting the world. The radical Islamic threat “convert to Islam or we will kill you” may be the idea of Allah, but it’s not the way of the one true God, Jehovah.
The Bible says, “For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.” (2 Cor 10:3-5)
Carnal tactics, physical force and fleshly weapons do not touch a persons’s heart, appeal to their intellect, or change their will. The Gospel of Christ can, and does cut the conscience of a sincere seeker and affect conversion.
While no Christian would execute an infidel, nor would any rational Believer resort to violence in order to convert someone, let us be careful not to make pejorative comments, hurl ugly epitaphs or utter snide remarks toward those with whom we disagree.
One of the best guidelines for effective evangelism is found in Colossians 4:5-6. “Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”
We invite all people to accept Jesus as their Savior. But the choice is yours!
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman