1/22/10 Mario, 36 DeSheniqua, about 25
Anne (my wife) and I went "fishing" at the grocery store. I used million dollar tracts to try to start a conversation. Mario was an interesting and very bubbly African-American man that we talked to while his wife, DeSheniqua, listened, agreeing with the answers Mario gave. "Am I going to heaven? Oh I KNOW I'm going to heaven!" Mario described how he has been shot on two separate occasions and stabbed once, even lifting up his shirt right there in the store to show us the stab wounds under his arm. "People tell me I have nine lives, well I've used up three. But God is keeping me alive for a reason!" "How do you know you will go to heaven?" "Oh, I believe in God, ever since my 3 years in the penitentiary, and now I drive truck and I'm helping other guys get on the right path." "But we can't earn heaven by our good works..." "Oh no, you got to be sorry, really sorry, and ask God for forgiveness, and start living God's way" I asked if that would work in a human courtroom. Would justice be served if people were let go based on their degree of remorse, or the good things they had done to "pay" for their crime? God, the good judge, demands justice; otherwise we couldn't call Him "good". Mario had a hard time making the connection between God's love for justice and Jesus' atonement on the cross. At first his trust was in his own good works despite adversity, then he switched to the sincerity of his repentance. Finally, I reminded him of his sin by personalizing some of the commandments. Only then, and with some prompting, was he reminded of Jesus and the cross. "Oh yeah!" almost as an afterthought, "of course I believe in Jesus!"