5/6/10 Marcos and Romero, both about 35
A middle aged father (Marcos) and his friend (Romero) were at the park watching his young son while his older son practiced with his Little League team. Jake and I had come early to our softball practice looking to initiate a witnessing opportunity, so I asked them if they had time for a few questions. They welcomed my questions so I asked "What do you think happens after this life, what comes next?" They had very different answers. Marcos said "Oh, I'm goin' to heaven. no doubt" but Romero said: "I'm goin' straight to hell". Both went on to tell about a rough, drug and gang filled upbringing in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood. Marcos felt like he's already been through hell, and would now go to heaven "because I believe in God". He looked very thoughtful when I reminded him that the devil also "believes"(.James 2:19) He agreed that he often wondered if he "believed enough" and I told him he could have just a mustard seed of faith, but its who he believes in that really matters. Romero had spent nearly all of his adult life in prison, and had his share of jailhouse "Bible thumpers" as he called them. I think he felt he had heard it all before and took pride in shocking religious people by saying he was going to hell; but I don't think he really believed it. When I asked if he feared hell, he just shrugged his shoulders and said with a smile - "Hey, I got it coming to me" Both of these guys were familiar with the idea that God is loving and merciful, but they didn't know about his justice. I tried to help them understand that God's in his perfect holiness will punish sin, but in His infinite love provided the perfect sacrifice in our place - His own Son. I challenged them to put their faith in Christ today and we prayed for them right there on the ball field; later the rest of our softball team prayed for them as well.