By Brandon Lemons
The title of this article may have caught your attention: “Praying for Brandon to Know Jesus.” This title is talking about me, albeit 23 years ago.
I became a follower of Jesus during my sophomore year of college. I had grown up attending church with my family; I went to Sunday school classes, youth group, and even a few weeks of Vacation Bible School. I would have called myself a Christian because I wasn’t Hindu, Jewish, atheist, or any other world religion; plus, I attended a Christian church. So I was definitely a Christian, right?! Well, I was mainly going through the motions. I didn’t understand the Gospel or care much about God. Faith was rarely discussed in my home, and the only times I recall praying were rote prayers at mealtime (when required by my parents) and for touchdowns during football games. Within a few months of starting college, I stopped attending church. After all, I saw it primarily as a social outlet, and I didn’t feel like getting up early on Sunday mornings. I still would have called myself a Christian, but it wasn’t anything more than a label, and I can testify that worldly values and temptations were gaining traction in my life.
During my sophomore year, I took a speech class. I took that particular class because the professor was recommended by a (non-Christian) friend. Little did I know that a decision to take a speech class would change my life. There was a student in that class named Benji; he had an outgoing, fun personality and played rugby, which caught my attention. One afternoon, Benji stopped by my dorm room, made some small talk, and then asked if I was interested in discussing some questions about my spiritual beliefs. Since I welcomed a reason to procrastinate and enjoyed talking with Benji, I said “yes.”
We talked for a couple of hours, and an older man got involved in the conversation, too. We discussed God, sin, and grace; light bulbs in my mind were turning on as things I’d heard in church were suddenly making sense for the first time, and I saw my need for Jesus. I asked for a week to process all we were discussing. When we met the next week, we talked for two more hours, and that is when I placed my faith in Jesus and began following Him. Interestingly, I discovered years later that Benji was being trained to share the Gospel by a CRU (campus ministry) staff member; when Benji was asked if he knows of anyone who might be interested in discussing spiritual topics, he thought of me. So in the process of Benji being trained to share the Gospel, I came to faith in Jesus! That day – March 3, 1999 – changed the trajectory of literally everything in my life.
In the following weeks, one of the people I talked with about my new relationship with Jesus was a girl named Jara. Jara had lived across the hall from me in the dorm during my freshman year. She was a devoted Christian – very outspoken about her faith – and she and I had been good friends. I’d heard her talk a lot about Jesus and the Christian activities she was involved in, but these hadn’t been something that appealed much to me. Then, when I told her about my conversations with Benji and trusting in Jesus, she lit up and was so excited! One of the things she said was that she had been praying for me during the past year and a half – specifically that I would become a follower of Jesus! Her prayers had been answered!
I frequently think of the direct influence Benji had on the direction of my life, since he was the one who shared the Gospel with me when I came to know Jesus. Jara is also an example of someone who had a major influence on my life – both in sowing seeds of the Gospel, and also in her prayers for me.
I pray that whether we are like Benji or like Jara – someone who is taking steps of faith in pointing people to Jesus (like Benji) or is sowing seeds of the Gospel and praying faithfully that someone will come to know Jesus (like Jara) – we will all experience the joy of investing in the spiritual growth and transformation of those around us through the Gospel!
Let’s continue praying faithfully through (and beyond) the “40 Days of Prayer”!