Sermon Illustrations

Prayer and Conversion - A Janitors’ Story

Peter Schneider arrived at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, in 1947-48. A German, who had spent time as a prisoner of war, he was now working as a janitor. He spoke almost no English, so we students could not communicate well with him.

The janitor had a pleasant smile, and we enjoyed greeting him in the hallways. Our classmate, Jim Elliot (who was later martyred in Ecuador) had the vision to start praying for him.

30 years later…In 1978, I was invited by the Lausanne Committee for World Evangelization to help organize a consultation on world evangelization.

In January 1978, our organizing team met in Hamilton, Bermuda. One afternoon a number of us strolled around the streets of downtown Hamilton. I was standing at the waterfront as we looked at some of the ships tied up in port. One of my companions – who was from Germany, looked at the submarine, and said, "I served in Hitler's submarine corps. But toward the end of the war, I was put in the front lines in Holland - where I was wounded. This was the best thing that ever happened to me. I was abandoned by our troops and captured by the British. They sent me to a hospital in England. From England I moved to the USA.”

Now, 30 years later - he was chair of the Billy Graham Association for all of Germany. He spoke perfect English, … and even served as Billy Graham's interpreter in Germany.

Peter Schneider?, I asked.

"Peter, were you ever at Wheaton College in Illinois?"

"Why, yes," he replied. "I worked there as a janitor.

My excitement continued: "Peter, I must tell you what happened. I was a student at Wheaton College. My friend and classmate Jim Elliot had a vision to pray for your salvation. Several of us prayed for you. I was one of those people! And now 30 years later, you and I are serving on the Lausanne Committee for world evangelization!

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