"What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? Matthew 18:12
9/1/09 Megan, about 25
I was early to my night school class so on the way I asked a young lady walking her dog into a park if I could ask a few questions about her spiritual beliefs. “I know its taboo to talk religion or politics” I laughed, but she said it would be no problem. Megan grew up Catholic and now attends church only on major holidays. As for life after death, she told me that the Buddhist idea of attaining nirvana or reincarnation seems logical. She thinks Jesus and salvation are just man-made tales designed to teach morality. “I don’t think I will remember this life” and believes she may have had a life before this that she doesn’t remember. She does believe hell exists “but only for really bad people like murderers”. I told her that Jesus taught that calling someone else a name in anger will put them “in danger of the fire of hell” and Megan seemed a little shocked. I asked her “How would you do if the Bible is true, and we are held accountable to God for our actions?” She firmly believes she is a good person. I began to talk about some of the Ten Commandments, but her dog was very distracting and she seemed like she was only comfortable in polite conversation where one avoids disagreement at all costs. She agreed to read some literature I gave her. In hindsight, when I want to talk to people as they walk their dogs, I think I’ll talk to them on their way out of the park, after their dog is done with its business!
9/2/09 Maurice, 25
At a Border’s Bookstore I asked a young man named Maurice about his beliefs as he browsed through some books. “I don’t believe there is a God, and I think after we die that’s the end”. He told me he grew up in a very strong church where many people claimed to have had spiritual experiences, but he never experienced God personally and lost interest when he left home at age 21. “What would God have to do to get your attention?” I asked and he told me “something drastic like a near-death experience” might convince him. “Until that happens, I‘ll take my chances”. However, as I asked him how he might be judged by the standard of the Commandments, he realized that not believing in God is a luxury he couldn’t afford. Like so many with a church background, he had believed that if there is a God, he was good enough for heaven but to deny His existence meant that he could live his own way. He claimed his concern for people of other beliefs also kept him from belief in a biblical God, but I reminded him that it is our sin, not our unbelief, that brings condemnation, and if he is truly concerned for others the best thing to do is put his faith in Christ and then tell others about Him as well. We had a long fruitful conversation, and Maurice told me that I might just have been the sign from God he was looking for.
9/3/09 Rich and Chris both about 30
Out on a bike ride I approached two guys playing basketball in a back alley. They stared at me as I rode up to them, wondering what I wanted. Rich looked intimidating with his head shaved bald, multiple tattoos and piercings, muscle shirt and bodybuilder physique, but he was the one who was willing to answer my questions about his spiritual beliefs. He grew up Catholic, attended Catholic elementary and high schools and even served as an altar boy for Pope John Paul during his
9/4/09 About 50 people
I have used “million dollar bill” tracts as a light hearted conversation starter, and they worked well tonite after a White Sox game. I walked around to different groups partying in the parking lot, not trying to start long conversations but talking long enough to create some interest or curiosity in reading the back of the tract. A typical conversation began when I’d say “Hello, I’m giving out souvenir million dollar bills – would you like one with Obama or Reagan on it?” I had others with celebrity caricatures on them, and I’d give them to whoever could guess who they were. After some laughs someone would usually ask what it’s all about and I’d say “These are great collector’s items, but on the back is a good person test. Are you good people?” They almost always enthusiastically said they were. “Well you look like good people! But when you get a chance I’d like you to take this test – it’s harder than you think. I failed it myself, but maybe you can do better than me!” Sometimes people would start reading it, and I’d say “It’s based on the Ten Commandments. How do you think you’ll do?” They’d often say “Oh I’ve kept them pretty much. Nobody’s perfect.” I’d say “That’s what the Bible says – none of us have kept them perfectly so then the question is ‘Are you are good enough?’ ” Then I’d wish them a good evening and be on my way. This left a lot of questions unanswered, but that’s the point in encouraging larger numbers of people to seriously consider the bad news of the law and the good news of grace on the back of the tracts.
9/5/09 Tony and Eleanor, about 60 and 45
During a shopping excursion to the suburb of
9/6/09 Jerry, 66 and Jeanette, about 40
Out for an evening walk I talked with Jerry as he sat smoking in his van. I could tell he has lived a rough life. He told me he attended a Baptist church years ago and thinks there is a God and hopes there is a heaven, but his poor health and sinful lifestyle have given him an attitude of defeat and resignation about his fate. About this time Jeanette walked up to us, a local drug addict and prostitute whom I’ve avoided even making eye contact with because she takes any attention from men in entirely the wrong way. I welcomed her into the conversation, seeing it as a great opportunity to share the Gospel with her in an appropriate setting. I didn’t need to dwell on sin too much, following Jesus’ example of “law to the proud and grace to the humble”. Instead I focused on God’s love for them, the sacrifice of Jesus for their sins, and their need to receive Jesus through repentance and faith. I asked Jeanette if she had a Bible and she didn’t so I gave her one. She was very grateful for it and gave me a hug as she left. Jerry didn’t seem too willing to read anything too long, so I gave him a short tract to remind him of what he had heard. I shared the gospel as clearly as I could, but I could tell by their lack of questions that much of it went over their heads. I’m only sowing seeds after all. God can make them grow.
9/7/09 Subodh about 23
While on an errand I began a conversation with two IIT graduate students from