RICHMOND, Virginia (IMB) - More than a decade ago, Liam Remington*, an IMB worker new to the mission field, found himself in a riverside town in the mountains. That same day, a young nomad named L.T.* came to the same city. Remington, a trained linguist, was hoping to conduct language surveys in the area. L.T. happened to be from the people group Remington was hoping to meet.
Remington and L.T. happened to meet on a street corner. It was a divine encounter. Remington was a willing witness, and L.T. was a seeking soul. Remington did not immediately share the Gospel, and L.T. did not believe initially, but an authentic friendship started that day.
Over the years, Remington consistently traveled to L.T.'s town to visit. He would often bring his wife and three kids, and many times they would stay with L.T. and his family in their home. Remington plunged ahead with his language projects, which included translating Bible stories and Bible translation. L.T. was always his favorite language speaker who gave feedback on the language translations.
Remington and L.T. shared meals and together climbed mountains, herded yak, went on hospital visits, chopped fodder, and looked for mushrooms. That initial divine encounter turned into a tight friendship.
Throughout their friendship, Remington was faithful to share the Gospel and to fast and pray for L.T. Even though L.T. was seeking to know more about the Gospel, he never seemed able or willing to put his faith in Jesus fully.
One year during a local holiday, Remington and his family spent nine days celebrating the holiday with L.T. and his family. While aspects of their nine days together were encouraging, ten-plus years of weariness set in, and Remington began to lose hope that L.T. would ever believe.
One year ago, L.T. went to Remington's house. He was planning to help the family pack for a season in the U.S. In the car on the way to the airport, L.T. told Remington that he would pray to Jesus for their safe travel. Remington didn't think much about it until he got on the plane. Then somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, he thought, "Wait a second, was that L.T.'s way of telling me he's a believer?"
That was what L.T. was saying by using the words that "He would pray to Jesus." Remington confirmed L.T.'s faith in Jesus through texts and emails with another IMB worker. Remington had spent more than ten years sharing, praying and fasting for his friend. Now he was not even in the same country with L.T. to celebrate his decision to follow Jesus!
After his time in the U.S., Remington returned and reunited with his friend, his brother in Christ. Remington blessed L.T. during his baptism ceremony by using his heart language. L.T. has already shared openly about Jesus with his family and friends. Since being challenged by friends and the local religious community about his decision to follow Christ, L.T.'s resolute answer thus far has been, "I'm a follower of Jesus. That is how it is."
A divine encounter may not mean immediate fruit. A divine encounter may require a decade or more of friendship. It may also require more sharing, praying, fasting, crying and serving than anticipated.
A divine encounter may even bear fruit for a harvester other than yourself. Remington's story encourages Christians to be willing and faithful and to leave the timing up to our sovereign Father.