7/9/10 Joe, about 50
I've been going to a park where I can practice speaking Spanish, but this conversation with Joe was in English. Joe told me he and his family left the Catholic church because of an abusive priest and joined the Church of Christ denomination where they enjoyed being part of the fellowship for many years. However, for years Joe didn't feel "good enough" to be a Christian. I asked what that meant to him and he said that although he feels he is a very good person (and gave me some different examples of good deeds he had done) he never felt capable of being "Christian" like the people at church who attended Bible studies and could quote scripture verses. Then in 2005 he had a spiritual experience that he said made him a new man. While at work he was overcome with a wave of peace that filled him with love, patience and kindness toward others. He told how other people, strangers on the street, could see God's presence in him and said "I finally came to a place where I could accept myself". After hearing about all this I asked "If someone in this park asked you how they could go to heaven, what would you tell them?" Joe really didn't know, saying "I don't even know if I'm going to heaven myself". From what I could tell, Joe came to a place of happiness that came with trusting in God on a day to day basis, but hadn't come to that place of joy that comes with righteousness - a right relationship with God for eternity based on faith in Jesus. Joe easily agreed as I described the "bad news" of our sin, judgment and the eternal punishment we deserve, and he was glad to hear the good news of Jesus' sacrifice for his sins. I encouraged him to trust in Christ today.