A story of two men. One man who lacked nothing and another man who had to work for everything. The Rich Man for all intents and purposes was all that the world would define as successful. His retirement account was fully funded at the age of 30 had 8 zeroes attached to it and his kids and grand kids (future children) and wife were fully funded as well. He drove an Audi, a Porsche and a Range Rover along with an Indian Motor-cycle. He had a condo in Vail, Colorado, a summer home in the Hampton’s and a Penthouse in Chicago. Everything that he touched whether good or bad seemed to always work out in his favor. There was even one year where he had a bad year in investing in the stock market and bought property instead only to find out that he bought the bottom of the real estate market and doubled his investment in less than one year. His parents were divorced as their parents were divorced as well. He was a trust fund kid and never really appreciated anything that he earned or was given. This man was very agnostic. He knew that there was some superior being, because to say that there wasn’t would be foolish. But he lacked any positive legacy in faith and or mentoring in the way that God would call us to do so.
The other man had a decent job by worldly standards. He wasn’t rich, by US standards, but he wasn’t poor either. If you were to mark him down based on income tax he would fall in the upper middle-class. He had a wife and three kids and a family that he looked forward to getting home to every day. He was by far not the smartest nor was he the dumbest. He was average to above average in all that he did. The difference is that he had to work hard for everything. His dad instilled in him a work ethic that could be rivaled by few. His mom gave him the importance of relationships and to treat the least of these with the utmost respect whether they deserved it or not. His mom had a faith that was unending and yet realistic to know that she was a sinner that was in constant need of God’s grace and forgiveness. This man’s relationship with God was the knowledge of Jesus Christ as his Savior, but to say that he was truly a friend of Jesus would be a stretch. That is, until a men’s conference that challenged the very core of his being. One speaker in particular asked him what legacy would his life leave? That question haunted him and the other 40 men that went to this conference. Ten of the men (including this man) pledged to take this further, to be real with each other and to confess their sins together. They were not going to do fluff or pat each other on the back, but they were going to get real and get accountability and to start a regular men’s group at their church. So that very night six months before his big work trip came about these ten men confessed to each other.
All of these 10 men did not hold back nor hide anything. One shared some infidelity, six shared pornography, one shared anger and two shared addictions. All shared that they loved Jesus and they no longer wanted to just follow him, they all wanted to befriend Him and be His disciples. So the journey began.
Six months later these two men, unbeknownst to them, met on their way to South America. As God would have it, their paths crossed on first class. The Rich man always flew first-class, but the other man was traveling for work and both of these men were going to somewhere in South America. Both flew 11 hours to their destinations and both coincidentally sat next to each other on the flight down. Out came the nuts, and the drinks and the dinner and dessert. They both sat next to each other and both started a conversation about life and what really matters. The man (who was in his 40’s) respected the Rich young man because he was both astute and very well-educated. Even though he exuded money and privilege, he didn’t flaunt it in public, which was contradictory to what was written earlier about him.
The Rich young man envied this other man because something was different from any other man that he met or chatted with on long flights. This man had contentment in a way that surprised this Rich young man. He loved his family and he could tell there was something different so he asked. And Faith was the topic of the remaining few hours and couple of glasses of red wine. They talked about faith, about religion, and about this man’s faith in God and His Son Jesus Christ. At one point, the Rich Young Man asked if the other man was trying to convert him. Of which, nothing was said either way, just what this men’s group and God’s word was doing in his life. The conversation was riveting and neither man slept through this flight as both were intrigued by the other’s lifestyle.
As they landed, both were shocked to find that they were staying at the same South American hotel. The Rich Young Man offered the other man a ride in his arranged car to the hotel, of which the other man willingly said yes. As they grabbed their luggage and found their driver they both were given water from the driver. Only something was desperately wrong. There was a woman in the front seat (the driver said it was his niece and he was going to give her a ride to the city after these men were dropped off.) The Rich Young man said that would not be a problem and to bill his card for both of the men. As there was long conversation on the flight and more than two glasses of wine, both men willingly drank the water and both did not realize that the water was drugged. Hours later they both woke up somewhere in the rain forest and both were in shock as they were locked in separate rooms next to each other. Drugged and tied and being held for ransom. These men were the victim of kidnapping and the other man was at the wrong place at the wrong time given the Rich Young Man’s status.
They were held for ransom and the ransom was huge. The older man’s company was working with the Rich Young Man’s corporation on trying to negotiate for these men’s lives. Months had passed and the camps that held them were moved every 3 weeks. A trust and friendship began between these men and the only thing they were allowed to have with them were the Bible that the older man had. As his men’s group was working on Scripture memory he gave the Rich Young Man his copy of the Bible.
And so they read – through the entire Bible. Focusing on Romans, on James and on John. Not really sure of the date, as either men weren’t sure of how much time that had passed, these men both discovered God in a whole new way – one had a new Savior (Jesus Christ) and the other had two new best friends (Jesus and the Rich Young Man). Through this conversation and conversion there was a guard in the camp that took a liking to these two men and took more of a liking to what was being shared between them – the Word of God. This guard also came to know the Lord and just one week before these men were going to be either negotiated for ransom or killed for lack of payment, the guard freed them late at night and drove them across the border to the US Embassy. These men were able to call their work and families before a ransom was paid out and the Rich Young Man chartered a plane to take them both back to Chicago.
They made the local newspapers and then the national news papers and then the talk shows and then more and more kept coming. They both had their “10 minutes of fame” but neither used this for their own kingdom – instead they used it for God’s kingdom.
Both were asked what really mattered when they were being held prisoner and both said the same – their faith in God, in His Word and their relationship with Jesus Christ. They both left the US wanting and both came back completely content. Their lives were forever changed and from that moment of conversion for the Rich Young Man and the other man was life-changing. Their wishes and desires were no longer what they wanted, but instead was replaced by what God wanted from their lives.
“When it is all said and done”, they said in their last television interview, “and we are kneeling at the judgement seat of Christ, we only want to hear two things: 1) Our names read in the Book of Life and 2) Well done my good and faithful servants”.
What really matters to you?
The world’s view:
- His Word
- A relationship with His Son Jesus Christ
- To be his disciples
- To love the Lord God with all of our hearts, minds, souls and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves
- To finish well