"The fear of the Lord is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death." Proverbs 14:27
6/16/09 Tony, about 35
I finished some work at a library and noticed a man reading the newspaper a few tables over. I prayed and before I had time to lose my nerve I walked over and said “Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you, but I have a somewhat off the wall question for you.” “Go ahead” he replied. “What do you think happens after this life, what do you think comes next?” He didn’t get mad or anything, but just said “I don’t think I really want to talk about that” “That’s okay, have a good day” I said. No harm done. I asked the same of a man working on his laptop another table over. He said “Heaven”. He attended church “not nearly enough” as he put it, and said that he believed that he would go to heaven because he sincerely asked for forgiveness. I agreed that God is merciful and forgiving and He loves us but I said He also loves justice, which means that our sins are not forgiven without consequence – that there was a tremendous price paid on our behalf when Jesus was crucified. I reminded Tony that the basis for our salvation is not anything we can do or how sincere we are in asking for God’s forgiveness, but in what Jesus has already done for us. Please pray for Tony to trust completely in Jesus, and also for the man at the first table who I’m pretty sure heard most of our conversation.
6/17/09 Brian, about 20
I was in the car all day on my way home from North Carolina, and I stopped and talked to Brian, a custodian at a travel plaza. “People tell me I’m a good person” he said in reply to my questions. He seemed shocked and concerned when he realized that by the standard of the Ten Commandments he is not “good”, and that if God is truly just in regards to sin, he deserves to be punished. At this point I asked if he had a church background because I wondered what he already knew about Jesus, and he launched into a detailed description of his uncle’s church, though he couldn’t remember the church’s name. I could tell that hair-splitting over worship styles was a big topic of conversation among his relatives. He told how various relatives have been after him about his faith, yet he didn’t seem to understand the basics of the gospel. I was glad to be able to talk to him about repentance and faith and salvation in Christ without the “hidden agenda” of getting him to join a particular church. Please pray that Brian can sort his way through the confusing messages about church that he is getting from his earthly family, and discover the simple joy of being a part of God’s family!
6/18/09 Ryan, 21
Returning from vacation, I had to change some tires on my truck that had been slashed (It’s a long story involving a local drug dealer who doesn’t like me, please pray for his soul and against his business) While changing my tires, God turned a bad incident around for good! My neighbor, Ryan, came out to polish his car while I worked and we had a long conversation. Ryan has had religion and philosophy classes in both high school and college. He has given up going to church and is trying to find his own way through the maze of religious ideas. However he has no source of authority to base his religious search on, because he doesn’t believe the Bible is God’s word (and hasn’t really read it). When asked what the verdict would be if he was judged by God, he somberly stated he has not been faithful and would be sent to hell. However, his ideas about how he had disobeyed God had to do with failing to follow the religious rituals of his church (Catholic) Rather than dwell on his failures, I talked about the fact that even the most religious people in the world have broken God’s standard, which is the Ten Commandments, and all of us will be held accountable for disobeying Him. We do deserve punishment, but Jesus took our punishment for those of us who trust Him. Ryan wondered why his priest had never explained it so clearly and was glad to take some more info I gave him. Please pray for Ryan to trust in God’s word and believe the good news!
6/19/09 Brian, about 30
I arrived 45 minutes early in downtown Chicago to catch the “Megabus” for an out of state trip and decided to redeem the time by witnessing to someone, so I went for a walk. By using a million dollar tract as a conversation starter I met Brian, who said he had no religious background and is just exploring different religious ideas. He was intrigued to hear about judgment day and his own guilt in breaking God’s commandments. His mouth was truly stopped, as it says in Romans 3:19, as he realized his accountability before God. At this point I began to worry that I would miss my bus, so I didn’t take time to ask him questions to make sure I knew where he was coming from and besides, he was clearly tracking with every word I said (unlike the teenage girls of a few days earlier who didn’t have a very long attention span) I went on to describe why a holy and just God demands punishment for sin, and how God has expressed his love for us through the sacrifice of His Son. In hindsight I wouldn’t have missed my bus even if I had taken more time to explain how an appropriate response is repentance and commitment to Jesus, but I’m glad I was able to give a booklet to help him begin with faith in Christ. I trust the Holy Spirit to help Brian along in his faith journey.
6/21/09 The Engaged Couple about 25
Years ago I read a book called “The Ugly American” about American tourists who are rude and insensitive. They destroy the reputation of our country by their self-centered behavior. When it comes to evangelism, I pray I can find that Spirit-led balance between the extremes of being a people pleaser who is unwilling to speak the name of Jesus for fear of offending, and being an “Ugly Christian”, insensitive and unnecessarily offending, not trusting in the power of God to move in people’s hearts. At the bus stop in Minneapolis I began a conversation with a younger couple and found out they were engaged and he was seeing her off for her bus trip back home to Chicago. I asked some questions about their beliefs and the standard we will be held to on judgment day. They believe our good deeds must outweigh the bad, and I pointed out the problem with this idea, that we can never know how much “good” is good enough. We talked more and I had many more questions to ask them but I cut the conversation short, wanting to give them time to say a proper goodbye to one another. I think I left them curious enough to want to read the info I gave them later, and I moved on to talk with someone else. I just pray my boldness was balanced with sensitivity in a way that allows the Holy Spirit to work in their hearts as only He can.
Everyday Evangelism? Yes, that’s my goal. I didn’t reach it this week for various reasons, mainly procrastination. I think if I thought of it as a commitment, oath or promise to God, I would drive myself crazy, feeling like a failure. Instead, it’s a goal that keeps me on my toes and keeps me praying for the privilege of telling at least one person per day the good news of Jesus. When I fail to reach my goal, I thank God that tomorrow is a new day and pray that I can learn from my mistakes.