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Never Give Up On Your Unbelieving Friends

Katie never gave up on Nastia, and her friendship made all the difference

Katie is a disciple-maker in Slovenia. This is the story of her Discovery Bible Study with her friend Nastia. Even when it seemed like Nastia had walked away from God and from her, Katie didn't give up. Her dedication to their friendship made all the difference.

Discovery Bible Study with New Age Nastia

A few years ago, my teammates Lily and Jay facilitated English-learning activities at Nastia's school in Slovenia with hopes of reaching students with the Gospel. Nastia expressed interest in meeting with and learning from Lily. Though raised with Catholic influences, Nastia walked away from her faith into self-help and New Age thinking. After some time meeting on a weekly basis, Lily shared her faith and love for learning about God through Discovery Bible Study (DBS). Nastia was interested to learn more. Lily and Nastia met regularly for DBSs. When Lily returned to the States several months later, she connected me with Nastia to pick up where she left off. A few months of DBS flew by. Nastia grew in her understanding of who God really is. I even had the chance to share the Gospel with her. One day, Nastia told me, "I understand what the Bible says, but I don't know if I'm willing to turn from myself, give up everything and follow Jesus." Saddened by her reluctance to take the leap, I continually prayed with and for her. I told her directly, "I am praying that you will choose to follow Jesus and I can't wait to celebrate with you when it happens."

I Never Gave Up On Her

Summer brought inconsistency in our correspondence. In the few meetings we held, Nastia seemed distant, distracted, and unwilling to adhere to her "I will" statements. Nevertheless, I pursued her and reached out to her whether she responded or not. One day in November, Nastia told me, "I need to tell you something, Katie. Lately, I've been reminded of how important it is to seek God and how much I care about and want to know Him. I am so grateful for you, Katie—that you never gave up on me when I was wandering away and distant over the last few months..."

"...Even when I was unloving, you didn't give up on me. I'm so grateful for that because now I can see that God is calling me back to Himself."

Her words deeply encouraged my heart. I didn't do anything special—I simply remained consistent as I reached out to her. God changed her heart and was the one who never ceased to pursue her.

Nastia's Turn to Christ

From that moment on, Nastia's life clearly displayed her devotion to Him. Nastia's curiosity and desire to know God more is explosive. Every week, she says statements like, "Katie, I have to tell you what God did in my life! Here's how His Word encouraged me!" Nastia continues to share the stories from the Bible with her unbelieving friends and family. In her boldness to share spiritual topics with them, she shows great boldness in a place where there are so few believers. In addition, Nastia told me she found old journals where she wrote about New Age ideas and lies she had told herself. While praying, she ripped up those journal pages and felt complete freedom as God released her from lies that had imprisoned her for so long. In the seven years I've done ministry, I've never met someone more passionate, excited, and hungry to seek God. Pray for Nastia—for protection from God against the enemy who wants to pull her away and feed lies back into her life. Pray for her parents and two sisters who are not believers but with whom Nastia shares about Jesus and Scripture.

Lessons Learned:

Katie and Nastia's story demonstrates the importance of perseverance with the unbelievers God has placed in your life, no matter how they respond. Even if they, like Nastia, fall into a season of wandering and unresponsiveness, the Holy Spirit works in His timing. This story came at an opportune time for me (Ben—I write up most of these stories for CDM). As I sat down to write this story, I felt quite dejected about the two disciples with whom I've been doing DBSs. Amar from the Middle East and Alex from Eastern Europe have been unresponsive to my messages over that past two weeks. Though I wasn't ready to give up, my heart was heavy. Katie's story shows how faithful friendship and diligence in communication can make all the difference when reaching unbelievers. Katie never stopped pursuing Nastia. God never stopped pursuing her either, and He is still pursuing Alex and Amar. So I won't stop, either.


Free Podcast: Creating Safe Spaces for Discovery

We want to have conversations that lead our non-believing friends to discover God. But it can be difficult to get there, especially when, like Katie, we face discouragement. We need to create a safe space for them to actually want to engage in that way.

In this episode, Paul and Rebecca go over 3 ways to create those safe spaces: preparing by mobilizing prayer, building relationships with unbelievers through friendship and conversation, and creating space for open conversation. It takes time and some topics can be tough, but we're in the business of loving real people with real stories.

Listen here!

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