8/16/10 Fernando, about 45
At the park I felt led to talk to a man (Fernando) sitting on a bench. I greeted him and asked if he spoke English. "Of course, why do you ask?" "I wonder if I could run some questions by you" "What about?" "Well, I'm from a church nearby and I like to ask random people about their beliefs." He brightened up and asked "Which church?" I quickly found out he has attended the main location of my church (a non- denominational community church) after he was born in Mexico and grew up in a Pentecostal family. When he married he fell away from church, got involved in gangs and drugs, divorced, and is now back attending his parents Pentecostal church. Though he really seemed to be a believer I wanted to be sure so after we talked a while I asked "I need to ask you this question - How can you be sure you'll go to heaven when you die? I ask this of a lot of church people and get a wide variety of answers. I just want to be sure I'll see you in heaven one day". Fernando smiled and gave me the works-based answer I feared he would give: "Well I'm a pretty good person. I don't drink or smoke anymore. I don't gangbang. I help people all the time" Now, I can understand it when believers sometimes get confused between the results of salvation and the way of salvation, but Fernando mentioned nothing about Jesus. I went on to help him see his sin, God's justice, and his need for a Savior. I asked, "If you could get to heaven by being good enough, why did Jesus die on the cross?" I framed this question as a friendly reminder of something I hope and pray he already knew.