I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. Philemon 6
7/01/09 Craig about 45
For most of my life in Christ I have believed that I should live in such a way that unbelievers would feel compelled to ask me about my Christian faith, but I found it rarely happened that way. Craig was a semi-homeless and alcoholic man in my neighborhood who I talked with and on occasion gave odd jobs and a few handouts to, but he never asked me why I was such a “nice” person. Today, after an absence of three years, Craig showed up on my front porch. I brought out some lunch and we sat down to talk. Witnessing to strangers has really helped with my original goal - to be better able to witness to people I already know - and I found it so easy and natural to ask about Craig’s beliefs and to share biblical truths. Craig grew up in a black Pentecostal church but never took any ownership of his own faith. His life was on a downward spiral until he entered an alcohol detox and recovery program. His attitude now shows humility and submission to God, compared to the manipulative lies and hard-luck stories I heard from him a few years ago, and I believe he now has a saving faith in Jesus. Please pray for Craig; he still has many struggles but I believe he is heading in the right direction.
7/2/09 Ed, Freddy, and Garren about 40,25,30
As I headed in to Dominick’s for groceries I began talking with Ed and Freddy who were sitting out front. They initially responded with interest to my questions about spiritual things, until Ed changed the subject to his wife who he believed was cheating on him. I tried to listen and offer counsel, but he seemed to get more angry and animated as he went on. After he left for a phone call I talked with Freddy, who had many alternative theories about the beginnings of the universe and what happens after we die. He had to leave with a friend and that good conversation was cut short. I was able to give him some info on what the Bible teaches, but in hindsight I wish I had been more assertive in directing these conversations toward biblical truth. It’s hard to know how much time one has in a conversation before it is interrupted. Inside Dominick’s I talked with Garren, who grew up as a Methodist in Jamaica A few initial questions showed he believes people “create their own heaven or hell”, and that one could outweigh their sins on God’s scale of justice by doing good deeds. I pointed out that since it is God who gives us the ability to do good, to believe we can “pay” for our sins by doing good is like expecting a judge in a courtroom to be willing to take a bribe to ignore someone’s guilt, even though the money for the bribe belonged to the judge in the first place! Later in the checkout line Garren told me he doesn’t have a church home and hopes to visit New Life.
7/04/09 Ray about 45
As I parked outside Lowes Home Store to tie up some lumber I had just bought, I greeted an incoming shopper and handed him a million dollar tract, but gave him a Spanish version by mistake. I began to explain what it said in English and he was glad to talk about his views on religion and eternity. Ray is a high school science teacher and an atheist. Throughout our long conversation I could tell that Ray had put much thought into denying the existence of God from every angle. He had grown up attending church and said he had believed in God and was baptized as a boy. I asked at what point he began to doubt God and he said it was during a college science class. He had talked with his professor outside of class who convinced him to doubt that the Bible was God’s word. From there I could tell he had been on a slippery slope to unbelief as he had explored other religions and has finally come to the conclusion that “God is an invention of our imagination”. Ray was so enthusiastic about his “enlightened” beliefs; it was hard to get a word in edgewise, and when I did he would just dismiss it as religiously biased thinking. Pray for Ray and all the students in his classes whom he is able to influence on a daily basis.
7/5/09 Lois, about 50
Bob, 54, was our much loved brother in Christ and a faithful witness to the end in his victorious fight against lung cancer. During his last hours in the hospice I was glad to be able to carry on his legacy by sharing God’s law and the good news of Jesus with Bob’s sister Lois, whom he hadn’t seen in some time. Lois told me she has really no church or Bible background, and I found that she was more than ready to hear the truths of God’s word that her brother had shared with so many people. Later on, a wave of people from our church arrived – a real testimony to Bob’s impact on our lives. Lois not only heard the Word of God, she saw the Word of God in action as the Body of Christ gathered around Bob and his family. I feel privileged to be just one part of the still unfolding plan God is orchestrating as an answer to Bob’s prayers for his family and friends.
7/6/09 Denny and friends late teens
Bob passed away today, faithful to the end. Through Jesus he was victorious over sin, cancer and death. Despite the news, I continued my witnessing goal. What better way to honor Bob than to be a witness for his Lord? On my bike, I stopped outside a local tavern where 5 patrons were outside smoking. One didn’t believe in God; the other four believed themselves to be good people and headed for heaven, but thought twice about my “good person test” and excused themselves to go back inside. Down the street I stopped to talk to a group of teens on some front steps. Denny was the main one who responded to my questions. At first he said that he was going to hell because of all the bad he had done, but when I questioned him about it he admitted he really believes he is “better than average” and that God would say he is a good person. Our conversation competed with distractions, from friends driving by or coming in and out of their building, cell phones ringing, motorcycles drowning us out, and others in the group changing the subject. Denny and a couple friends, including Jeremy and Shaun who I had talked to a few weeks ago, patiently sat through it all, but what really got their attention was when I told them about Bob’s faithfulness in his final days. How he could barely talk, but kept pointing up to His Lord, and how his last words to me were to tell me not to say “goodbye”, but to say “see you later”. Bob’s testimony continues to point others to Jesus!
7/7/09 Tom about 40
Tom is a student in an education class I am taking. During a casual conversation in the parking lot after class today I switched from talking about the natural to the spiritual by asking about his religious background and current beliefs. His father is an army chaplain but he has many alternative theories about God, ranging from reincarnation to an idea that “god is the sum total of our collective consciousness”. I feel I earned his trust and respect as we discussed this for awhile, and then I posed the question “What if the Bible IS true – what if there is a God who created us and will hold us accountable on judgment day? How would you be judged?” Although Tom initially said that he was guilty and not worthy of heaven – he was thinking more about his drinking and bad treatment of his wife – I found that talking about the commandments individually really drove home the point – especially because he had broken some that very day. The focus shifted from crazy theories to the timeless truths of redemption in Christ. Tom was amazed, because just last night his wife had shown interest in religion for the first time. Tom truly appreciated our conversation, and so did I.