Terri Blackstock has written a short fictional tale called The Listener (WestBow Press, 2000). It tells the story of a man who, for two weeks, is able to hear people’s spiritual needs. Consequently this gives him the opportunity of speaking deeply into people’s lives. It also births within him a desire to tell people about Christ who can meet all of their needs. We are told many, perhaps too many, stories of people who come to Christ through this man’s gift and of others who came to Christ because of this man’s friends who, although they did not have his gift, caught his desire to see others come to Christ.

The main purpose of this story is to show that people, who appear to have their lives under control on the outside, can be crying out on the inside. Daily we walk past people in desperate need, yet we are not aware of it. The second point of this story is it doesn’t take much effort to show an interest in people and to act kindly towards them and we may be surprised at how open they are to the Gospel. While I think this second point was a little overdone in the story, it is nevertheless a good point.

My favourite scene in the story is when the main character, Sam, is in an elevator with a young man with Down’s syndrome. Sam hears this man thinking, “Wish I’s a real person”. Sam says to him, “Jimmy. You are a real person”. It is not clear to Sam whether his words had any impact on Jimmy, but it really doesn’t matter. Sam’s affirmation was pure gift and reminds us of how simple it is to say a word of encouragement.

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