2/18/14 Tony about 35
In the friendly confines of a Target store, away from the cold and snow swirling outside, I reached out to a few fellow shoppers with million dollar gospel tracts, which can be seen by some as kind of tacky but really make great conversation starters. “It’s a fun collector’s item, but it has a serious question on it that we don’t consider every day – Will you go to heaven?” One man, Tony, about 35, thought for a few moments and then looked at me and said “I don’t really know. What do you think?” He wasn’t mocking or using sarcasm; he really wanted to know and truly knew little about the message of the Gospel. As we talked, I wondered how someone like Tony could be so open and interested in spiritual concerns without having looked into it already, and I soon found out. Tony has a friend who is a Christian and has been actively reaching out to him with fellowship meals and outreach Bible studies at his house. Tony has visited his church a few times and enjoyed the experience, but it is too far away for him to attend regularly. It seemed like Tony immediately trusted me because he associated me with his Christian friend, yet it seemed their relationship had not yet led to a clear understanding of the Gospel. Our conversation may have seemed random, but it also seemed very timely for Tony; he wanted to know how one could know they will go to heaven and about my church which is nearby, and said he would like to come to visit. Churches often try to design an evangelism “program” and so I think they should, but I believe no manmade program can substitute for the timing and orchestrating of the Holy Spirit as He draws people into a right relationship with the Father through faith in the Son and using the obedience of His Church. I had the feeling that I was operating in partnership with Tony’s unseen Christian friend and with his church, but even more important, I felt I was operating in partnership with the Holy Spirit.