Francis Chan has revealed that after 30 years of praying for his best friend to find Jesus Christ, he was finally able to baptize him into the faith a couple of years ago.
The Christian pastor, author and church planter said that prayer is essential in such cases, admitting that his past efforts to convince people through words were "ridiculous."
He said it's similar to the first time he climbed into a cave and experiencing how pitch dark it was, and compared it to the darkness the Apostle Paul described in 2 Corinthians 4:3–6.
"We all walk in complete spiritual darkness unless God decides to shine his light on us. In some mysterious way, God shines light in a person's heart so that he instantly sees the beauty of the Gospel. No amount of human effort can produce this. Salvation is a miracle of God," Chan wrote on desiringGod.org on Wednesday.
"Many of us would say that we believe this theological truth, but our actions betray us, revealing just how much we trust in people, speeches, and events. On more than one occasion, people have begged me to speak to their lost friends, believing that my words would make the difference," he continued.
"Too often, I have granted their wish (rather than correcting their theology), and tried desperately to come up with the perfect words to talk their friends into falling in love with Jesus. Do you see yet how ridiculous this is?"
Chan pointed to Jesus' words in Luke 18:1 about how people "ought always to pray and not lose heart," and shared of his own 30-year prayer journey for his best friend.
"My best friend in college decided that he didn't want to follow Jesus. It broke my heart. Ken and I went our separate ways, and our lives went in opposite directions. I never stopped praying for him though — I couldn't. Whenever Ken's name would pop into my mind, prayer was my natural reflex," he explained.
"Two years ago, I was speaking in Seattle where Ken lived. I invited him to the event so we could reconnect. We graduated from high school in 1985. After 30 years of prayer, God decided to shine his light on his heart. Suddenly Jesus looked beautiful to him and he couldn't believe that he didn't see it all this time," the pastor added.
"A few weeks later, Ken and his wife flew down to San Francisco, and I baptized them. I can't express what a gift that was. He is one of the few people I have prayed for consistently for 30 years — a small price to pay to be with him for the next 30 million."
Chan wrote that the story is a reminder that "no soul is too far gone for God."
"No heart is too hard for God to soften. No son or daughter is too lost for God to rescue. Keep praying for God to do what only He can," he insisted.
He urged believers to practice persistent prayer for those who reject Christ, even if they still, like him, have questions about how the will of God aligns with such prayers.
"For now, I'm more than content to obey and pray. Though I'm still uncertain how it works, I have seen it work," he said.
Jordan Standridge, pastor of evangelism at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, Virginia, made a similar point days ago on The Cripplegate website, revealing that a 99-year-old man came to Christ during a recent missions trip he carried out in an unnamed communist country.
"As we talked, it seemed as if the scales were falling from his eyes as the realization of his own sin, filled his eyes with tears. It was like talking to the thief on the cross. He simply asked God to forgive him of his sin and give him a new heart," Standridge described.
He added that stories like that show that "you can give your life to Jesus even in your last breath."
"It doesn't matter how old you are. It doesn't matter how many times you've shared the Gospel with your family member. As long as they have breath in their lungs they can still receive a new heart," Standridge wrote.