Summary: History records many incredible conversion experiences of Christians, but some of the most remarkable conversion experiences occurred in and around the time of the crucifixion of Jesus.
Four Men Who Got Close to the Cross and Were Changed Forever
March 23, 1997
(I believe the source of the skeleton of this outline came from one of the Preach for a Year sermon outline books but am not certain. If anyone knows the source so I can properly attribute, please contact me at email@example.com. The “meat on the skeleton” is original to me and should not be held against the author of the outline. :-)
TEXT: First passage: Mark 15
History records many incredible conversion experiences of Christians. I have known personally of many unusual and unique testimonies of conversion.
Illus. One of the most remarkable conversion experiences I ever heard was that of a Korean evangelist named Kim Lee Dad knew in on his tour in Vietnam. His parents were executed by the North Koreans when he was six years old. With no relatives in North Korea, he and his 9-year-old sister headed to Seoul, South Korea. On the trek to Seoul, he got separated from his sister, whom he never saw again. Almost starving, he came upon a pile of food trash, mostly potato peels. Having not eaten for days, he ate to his heart’s content, and fell asleep on the pile of potato peels.
He was awakened by an American GI who took pity on him and took him into the their camp where they adopted him to do chores for them for food. This saved his life, but had a down side. He picked up all the bad traits of the GIs, learning to curse like the best of them.
After the war, he went to school, and learned to read, but dropped out of high school and fell into a bad crowd, eventually becoming a professional criminal. His career in crime was cut short when he murdered a bank teller in a bank robbery and was apprehended before getting out of the bank. He was sentenced to life in prison.
While he was in prison, he discovered that the chaplain gave out free New Testaments, coveted because their thin pages just happened to be perfect for rolling cigarettes. He would have to listen to the chaplains Gospel pitch, which he became more and more interested in, but he just couldn’t understand it, mostly because he just wanted the New Testaments for rolling cigarettes.
One night in prison he was caught rolling a cigarette after allowed hours by a prison guard. “No, no,” said Kim, “I was reading my Bible.”
“You’re lying, Kim. You can’t even read,” said the guard, threatening to turn him in.
“Yes I can,” said Kim.
“Prove it,” replied the guard. “Read it to me.”
So he picked up the a New Testament and opened to a random page and just happened to read at John 3:16 and read, “For God so loved the world he have his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
So the guard left him alone. But then everything the chaplain had been saying to Kim suddenly made sense to him. He instantly believed in the message of John 2:16 and was gloriously converted.
He was discipled by his chaplain and became a flaming evangelist for the Gospel. He was so zealous that he was sent for a psychiatric evaluation. The prison psychiatrist concluded that he had gone crazy, but was no longer a danger to society and recommended he be released from prison.
That’s a pretty remarkable conversion story isn’t it?
After his release from prison, he won many people to Christ, and ended up in Vietnam ministering to Korean soldiers in Vietnam.
Illus. – My own parents have a wonderful testimony. (GIVE THEIR TESTIMONY)
But perhaps some of the most remarkable conversion experiences occurred in and around the time of the crucifixion of Jesus. Let’s look at four that are recorded for us in the annals of Scripture:
I. SIMON THE CYRENIAN (Cyrene in Egypt) – Mark 15:20-21 – “And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple from him, and put his own clothes on him, and led him out to crucify him. 21 And they compel one Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, coming out of the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to bear his cross.”
Simon was an innocent bystander. He was reached at random by the soldiers and compelled to go to the cross. Nothing more is recorded about Simon the Cyrenian in Scripture, but curiously, the passage makes mention of his sons. This would have been unusual unless the readers of this passage knew who Alexander and Rufus were.
His two sons are mentioned in verse 21 – Alexander and Rufus
Compare Acts 19:33 – “And they drew ALEXANDER out of the multitude, the Jews putting him forward. And Alexander beckoned with the hand, and would have made his defense unto the people.”