12/11/12 Derrick 64
Before church Brad and I headed to a Starbucks to share the Gospel. We found a man named Derrick, who agreed to answer some questions and invited us to sit down to talk. He wore a Vietnam Vet cap and I asked about his service there. He had survived the Tet Offensive, a horrible experience for American troops that killed many of his friends/fellow soldiers. He truly feels he has lived through hell on earth, and he has suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ever since. At first he coped through drug use, but he has long since given up using drugs and has tried to cope through regular psychological counseling and mental discipline. He has given up trying to be happy and has settled for just trying to find some sort of peace of mind. An African-American from the rural south and a strong baptist tradition, he believes God is right there by his side and there to comfort him, but for some reason he refused any discussion about Jesus, saying it caused him too much stress. He firmly believes that he has a good heart, and that any sin he has committed can be blamed not on his sinful nature but on society and ultimately on God who gave us free will. This was one of the harder conversations I've had, because I owe this man a debt of gratitude for serving our country, but at the same time I felt the need to share some difficult truths that seem to contradict his military service and his years of counseling. He sees himself as a victim of much suffering and any suggestion that he deserves any kind of additional punishment for his sins seems ludicrous to him, and, frankly, it felt hollow coming from me. Instead I turned the attention to myself, trying to convey the bad news of our accountability to God for our sins by telling about my own guilt and the punishment I deserve. Derrick made the connection but would not accept it. In the end he simply refused to accept these biblical truths and, I believe, his need for Jesus.