8/18/10 Sean, about 25
The heavy-set, stern-looking security guard (Sean) wouldn't even return my friendly greeting on the way into the grocery store, so on the way out I made it a point to talk to him. He turned out to be very friendly, just not used to being polite with the general public. Sean, an African-American, told me he believes in God and goes to church, so I asked "If I came up to you and asked how I can be sure I will go to heaven, what would you tell me?" "That's a hard question" he answered, looking puzzled, so I asked "What do they tell you at church?" "I guess you have to be really good to everyone" was his guess. "Are you sure you didn't fall asleep at church during the important part?" "Maybe I did", he shrugged. "Are you a perfect person?" "No" "So how good do you have to be?" This playful exchange really had Sean's interest, and he soon was almost begging me to tell him the answers. As it turned out, he knew all the church rhetoric for trusting in Jesus but had applied it only to temporal things, like paying the bills or getting a job, or having clothes on his back. As far as he knew, heaven was something he had to earn by being very good and extremely sorry for his sins. I encouraged him to read his Bible and pay attention in church, both so that he could be sure of his own salvation and to be able to share it with others.