"Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ." Galatians 1:10
10/1/09 Brian, about 30
After a rejection by the first man I asked, I asked a UPS man on break at Burger King if I could ask some questions about his beliefs. He said "Sure thing" and had a look like he was going to thoroughly enjoy this, a look that I usually get from Christians. Brian however, began by telling me he believes in evolution. He seemed well prepared with the usual arguments against Christianity, and I found out he enjoys regular debates with his grandma, a staunch Catholic, and his neighbor, a Baptist pastor. His complaint about Christians is that we have our minds on one thing - money, and too many think we are good people simply by going to church. I asked "If the God of the Bible does exist and there is a judgment day , how would you be judged? Brian confidently stated that God would say he is a good person, so I went through some of the commandments to see if this were true. He had his share of excuses, but I could see that his confidence in his own goodness, just in case God does exist, was shaken. His break time was almost over so I explained a little about the reason for the cross and gave him some info which I honestly don't believe he would have received twenty minutes earlier.
10/2/09 Cathy, Jody, Debbie 30's
Lately I've been blessed to have conversations with the first one or two people I've approached, but not tonite. At a bus stop outside an 'El" station I began to try to give out million dollar bill tracts in the hopes of starting a conversation, but after the first people turned me down the rest of the people in the crowd followed their example. Feeling rejected, I went on to pick up the supper order for my family that I had originally set out for. Once at the restaurant, I felt like I had nothing to lose so I gave the three ladies behind the counter million dollar "tips" which brought a lot of fun comments and laughs. I told them that I got them from my church, and they had the million dollar question on the back- "Will you go to heaven?" with a good person test. I asked them in a lighthearted way, "Are you good people?" "Oh yes" all three answered. This began some good conversation about the Ten Commandments. They asked where I went to church, when we meet and all commented that they'd like to check it out. There wasn't time for a deeper conversation, but I think a few seeds might have been planted in good soil.
10/03/09 Metis, about 22
After a few people turned down my request to ask some questions in the parking lot I came in to a Dunkin' Donuts and asked a young Asian lady at a table working on her laptop if I could get her opinion on a few things. She looked skeptical and I wasn't sure if she spoke English, but I went on. "Like, do you have a spiritual background or believe in God or do you think there is more to life after this Earth? Metis (the name her Greek English teacher gave her) told me she had grown up Buddhist in
10/4/09 Adam about 30
While shopping at Target I went to the Starbuck's cafe table area and asked two young ladies if I could ask them some opinion questions. They were curious but when I asked about their beliefs one said "That's personal!" "Do you ever talk about your beliefs to each other?" "No" "Well eternity is a long time and I'd just like you to think about it." I moved on to the next table, an African-American man named Adam who sat down with some pizza. Adam told me he grew up Baptist and claimed he hasn't abandoned his beliefs but stopped going to church after he left home. He hopes for Heaven, thinks we are already going through hell on earth, and thinks the Bible is just another book written by men. "How can we know anything about what happens after we die?" he asked skeptically. I didn't know what to tell him since he doesn't believe in the Bible, so I asked what would happen if the Bible is true. "Would you go to heaven if today was your judgment day?" He believed he would, that he is a good person. "What would God judge us on?" He had no idea. He agreed that he has a conscience but doesn't always follow it. He seemed to be about to leave so I just warned him that the Bible tells us we will be held accountable for our choices in life. He seemed to appreciate my sincerity if not my advice.
10/5/09 Kurt about 20
In my experience so far the main reason people don't want to talk is because they are in a hurry to get somewhere or are otherwise preoccupied. I usually try to approach people who look like they have some spare time, but this leaves a lot of people out. I was thinking about that today on a sidewalk as a young man walking quickly behind me was about to pass me up. "Excuse me, I have a kind of crazy question to ask." He gave me a look that he was listening but not about to slow down. "What do you think is on the other side, after we leave this life?" "Heaven, I hope" was his reply. After we talked some and I knew he wasn't going to slow down I asked if he was catching a train and if he didn't mind if we talked on his way there. This was no problem, but I knew I had only two blocks to have a conversation that could bless this young man in some way. I found out that he grew up as a Missouri-Synod Lutheran, and he believes he is a good person but knows that his good works can't earn heaven - only faith in Jesus Christ. He is a college student who hasn't made much time for church lately, and has spent even less time reading the Bible. I asked if he eats food every day. "Of course" "Well think of the Bible as your spiritual food. Without it, you'll starve spiritually". Who knows? Maybe a timely word from a total stranger might be just what this young man needed to help him take ownership of his faith as an adult.
10/6/09 Dolly, about 20 , Wilma, Dolly's mother
I stopped by a laundromat and brought smiles to a lot of faces as I handed out million dollar bill tracts to people all the way to the back of the establishment. I turned around to head back out and had many people to talk to as most were reading the message on the back of the tracts. After a few shorter conversations I talked to Dolly, a young lady who was very obviously trying to get attention from men in inappropriate ways judging by the way she was dressed. However, she really took a sincere interest in my questions. She believes in heaven, and, when I pressed her on it, had to admit that there must also be a hell, though she couldn't bring herself to say the word and clearly hated the thought of anyone having to go there. She viewed herself as a good person until my questions on the Ten Commandments helped her to see herself as a liar, a thief, a blasphemer and a murderer at heart. She wasn't offended by this because she knew it to be true, and she wondered how then can anyone go to heaven? I had the privilege of explaining the good news of Jesus to her, but toward the end her lack of questions gave me the impression that it was hard for her to take it all in at once. Her mother listened in on the conversation, though I thought she only spoke Spanish. In the end they both appreciated that I took the time to explain it all to them and they were glad to get more info before I left.
10/07/09 Malat, 32
I sat down to talk with Malat on a park bench on the IIT campus. He is a Muslim from
10/8/09 Ed, 48, and "James", about 45
I've known Ed for several years. He was living on the streets, but now lives moves from place to place with the odd jobs he works. He has had much contact with my church and others such as at the shelter he used to stay at. I haven't seen him in a year but there he was, sitting at McDonalds. After we caught up for a while, I said "After all your church involvement, I want to give you a little quiz about your beliefs to see how well we as a church are doing our job". He agreed and I found out that though he loves God and thanks him for blessing him every day, he believes he will go to hell "because I keep doing stupid stuff". He loves to drink, saying "I just go crazy when I'm around it - its all I can think about." I spent much time trying to explain that God's forgiveness doesn't depend on his victory over alcohol, but Ed just can't accept it. On the other hand, just before Ed I talked to "James", who I've also known for a few years and lives in much the same way as Ed. He has been using crack cocaine about once a day for over twenty years. Though the physical effect is no longer what it used to be, he can't shake the habit. About a year ago, he put his faith in Jesus Christ, and I have seen God give him victory in many amazing ways - except for this addiction. I prayed with both men after our conversations and, like James told me, God isn't through with any of us yet.
10/9/09 Megan, Stephanie, and 3 friends 16
I passed out million dollar bill tracts at Burger King and came back to a table of 5 girls, all sophomores at a nearby Catholic high school. One was reading the message on the back of the tract to the group, though in a mocking tone, so I asked them all how they thought they might be judged by God. They all believed themselves to be very good people, mentioning mainly their belief in God and church attendance as evidence. However, when I asked about specific commandments they realized that they would be found guilty, so they said they thought the good things they did would outweigh the bad. I asked if they knew what "bribery" is, and explained that a good judge wouldn't accept bribes in exchange for overlooking someone's guilt, and neither will God accept our good deeds as a sort of bribe to overlook our sins, especially since our "good deeds" are simply expected of us in the first place. "But God is supposed to forgive us" one said. I told her "God IS forgiving, but He is also just, and He sees to it that sin doesn't go unpunished" At this point they had to leave. The conversation had its share of sideways glances and giggling as each girl worried about what the others were thinking, so at the end I asked if they thought I was crazy for doing this. "Not at all" they said, and I believe they were sincere as they gladly took more info to read later.
10/10/09 Robert, about 45
I met Robert at a bus stop, asking him what he thinks is on the other side when we leave this earth. He told me he is an active church member and said "I trust in the blood of Christ as atonement for my sins". He also said he believes that people who are good but don't put their trust in Christ will be given a second chance by being reincarnated on earth to try again - unless they are really bad, then they will be punished in hell. I told him that it would be nice to think people are able to come back to try again but the Bible teaches in Hebrews that "it is appointed for man to die once, and after this comes judgment". I encouraged him to warn his loved ones and other people he meets of the judgment to come, because our days are numbered and we are not guaranteed another day of life. I believe Robert's unbiblical belief in reincarnation and second chances is yet another of the many excuses we come up with to avoid actively reaching out to others with warnings of judgment and punishment for sin and the good news of Jesus who took our punishment for us.