Tuesday, September 20, 2005

My first prolonged witness encounter with a stranger:

I work in the city, and I work until 9PM. Recently, I have noticed that there are more and more people walking, dining, and partaking of various adult beverages that I pass by on my way to my car. Well, about 3 months ago I took a large step – I ordered some tracts from Living Waters to use when I witness. Now it is important to note that I when I ordered these tracts I had not yet ever gone out of my way to confront a stranger with the gospel. That’s important to note because I wanted to do this, and one way to get me going was to put some money where my mouth was (as it were). All of this to say that I have (for a few months) tried to overcome fear, see and take the opportunities that are there, or make an opportunity to share the gospel with those who I may or may not ever see again. Over the last week, I have noticed more and more people out and about, so I made it a point to have some of my gospel tracts easy at hand for sharing the gospel as well.

Fast forward to last night….

As I was leaving work I passed a bunch of people socializing and waiting to enter a dining establishment. I walked right on by so many people because it just didn’t feel like the right time. Now, it is very likely that this feeling was just me not wanting to share the gospel in a way that would take me out of my comfort zone – I don’t know what it was for sure, but I know that God will break down my personal barriers the more I trust him in obedience (however small it starts out as). Well, by God’s grace I was accosted by a young man for some money to buy food. Out of habit, I told him that I didn’t have any change for him.*

I did say that I had something else for him. I said, “I don’t have any change, but do you want $1 Million?” I pulled out a million dollar bill tract and gave it to him.

Him: “I don’t want it. It’s not worth anything. I can’t buy anything with it.”

Me; “True, you can’t buy anything with it, but if you use it properly, it’s worth a whole lot more than $1 million.”

At this he was a bit intrigued, so I turned the tract over and read him the first line on the back of the tract. “The Million Dollar Question: Will you go to Heaven [when you die]?”

Him: “Oh, man – you know that when you die, you’re already in heaven.”

I was a bit confused by his response, but through some more questions (why do you think that, where did you get that information, how do you know that your idea is true) I came to understand that he just “knows” this with no real thought behind it. I asked him if he believed in the Bible and he gave me some sort of a non-committal response. So I tried to build the case in his conscience for what the Bible has to say. Basically, I said this, "Assuming the Bible is true (I know it’s true), and God judges you when you die – He sees hatred as murder, lust as adultery – will you be guilty or innocent?" Now, his response was a combination of “everybody does it,” to which I replied “You just quoted a Bible verse,” and I quoted Romans 3:23 to him. He then tried to downplay how bad an angry thought or a lustful thought really is. Well, to make this short story long, I left him with a 10 Commandment Medallion and told him to consider the Judgment of God that will come, and to really think about his guilt or innocence.

In hindsight, there are many things that I could have and/or should have done differently, or questions of his that I could have answered better. However, I am thankful that God was gracious enough to give me the courage to bring the law (he had not humbled himself to the law, so I didn’t bring up the gospel because he was not agreeing that he needed the Good Knews) and I trust that the Lord will work in his life. If it be His will, this man will come face to face with his sinfulness on this side of eternity and God will save his soul.

To God be the glory.

*(Sidebar – but important) Truth be told I did have a few dollar bills in my wallet, but I didn’t have any change. I hesitated pulling out my wallet to get some money. A few minutes later I did remember that I had some of my lunch left over (1 sandwich, 1 banana, and 1 Little Debbie Nutty Bar). I offered him my lunch and he turned down everything except the Nutty Bar because he already had a banana and he didn’t like Miracle Whip (on my sandwich). So, I didn’t feel so bad about not forking out some dough for this guy to buy food with. On the other hand I am ashamed and I am afraid that I may have done harm to my witness. You see, before I had given the man my lunch (but after we had started talking), he stopped another man walking by for some money. He said something like, “I asked him (me) for some money, but he didn’t have any. And I’m only talking with him about God because it’s interesting.” The other pedestrian looked at me, then at the gentleman asking for money, looked back at me – smirked, and pulled out a few bucks. Now, I don’t know what went on in that man’s head, but my fear was something like, “Huh, a crazy religious freak wants to push his ideas on this guy, but he’s not willing to help him out.” Even though this gentleman turned down most of the food that I had, my witness was still tarnished because I appeared unconcerned with his immediate needs to the other pedestrian.

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