Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Young Atheist

Last Sunday I had the privilege of reading the Word of God aloud and heralding the law and Gospel of Jesus Christ. I packed my open air box, the wooden cross, and my tracts and bible and headed to Pismo Pier. I arrived and setup near the mouth of the pier at around 3:30 PM. There was a fair amount of foot traffic. But I also know that the closer it is to sunset the more people come out to enjoy it.

Direct interaction with people while preaching was minimal for the first couple of hours. I read from Psalms, Romans and from the book of Acts. I preached the law and Gospel and did my best to speak of the Person of Jesus Christ – not only what He did to save sinners but also who He is.

As I said, as sunset draws closer more people come out. This day was no different. There was a group of 10 -12 teenage boys riding around near where I was preaching. I’ve had conversations with many of them before but this day I met a young man I’d never met before. As these guys rode around, a young man named Kevin yapped at me about “ramming religion down our throats.” This twenty-seven minute audio is an excerpt of the open air.

I believe GOD used this open air, and Kevin’s loud voice and opinions to draw in a group of people who stood around waiting for the sun to set.

WARNING: There is a lot of profanity in this audio.

One other side note: there were no Christians there. It was just the pagans gathered and myself. Maybe there were Christians there listening or praying but they didn’t make themselves known to me. But something that always blows me away is when unregenerate people defend me. When things heat up between Kevin, me and one other guy, several unregenerate people standing just behind me step up and come to my defense.

There is one other unexpected twist to this story – nothing earth shattering – but it also blows me away. You’ll hear me offer Kevin some tracts at the end of the audio. He was upset and just road off on his bike. A little while later I had the opportunity to spend a few more minutes with him and give him, “The Atheist Test” tract and one other old Evolution tract that Living Waters used to sell. God gave me the opportunity to reiterate some of the truths I had shared with Kevin during the open air. Except this time, with gentleness and a pleading concern for his soul. I put my hand on Kevin’s shoulder and looked him in the eye and said, “Kevin, I care about you. Please turn from your sin and trust in Jesus Christ. It’s time to get right with GOD.” He calmed down and talked quietly for a few more minutes. We even shook hands before he left. I thank GOD that He gave me those few minutes with Kevin.

Fast-forward to Thursday night (last night): I attended a local Farmer’s Market in San Luis Obispo. SLOtown is approximately eighteen miles north of Pismo Pier. It was around 9:45 PM. Another Brother and I were witnessing to the numerous high school kids that gathered just outside of Jamba Juice (a great place for 1-2-1 witnessing). I was in conversation with three fourteen year old young ladies when I heard a guy say, “Hey, I know you.” I didn’t think much of it because I didn’t think the guy was talking to me. He dropped his bike and came walking up to me and held out his hand. He said, “What’s up? Are you here doing the same thing you were doing in Pismo.” It was Kevin and he held out his hand to shake my hand again. I don’t know what GOD is doing in the hearts of people but Kevin was smiling and seemed genuinely glad to see me, even wanting to go over some of the things we had talked about on Sunday. Please pray for this young man.

I must leave you with two things. First, just because things might get heated in either a witnessing encounter or during open air, hang in there, GOD works during those times too. You never really know whose being disturbed or even called to repentance by the Holy Spirit. I’m not saying Kevin is saved by any stretch of the imagination, but it seems from my limited perspective, the Holy Spirit is doing something there. So don’t shy away from the heat of a passionate discussion and plead with them to repent and believe the gospel. Plead with them, preach the law and the gospel to them and don’t quit.

Secondly, after the open air kind of died down, maybe fifteen people or so stood around for another hour discussing spiritual matters, GOD, the Bible, Jesus Christ, etc. Sad to say, but I was all these pagans had. There were no other Christians there to minister to these people who GOD had brought there to hear the gospel. I’m not exaggerating, I had a girl asking me sincere questions and at the same time a guy who was just as sincere asked me questions about the Bible and GOD. Many of the others had questions and wanted to hear more too. I wasn’t able to talk at length with all of them. At one point, I had to tell the one young lady who had a ton of questions that I couldn’t have a conversation with her and the guy I was currently talking to. This really grieved me.

Chrsitian - If you are not engaged in regular, deliberate evangelism, not only are you disobedient to our Lord’s command but you're missing out on the joy of spreading His fame – preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Earth Day with Jared and the Reverend

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the 2010 Earth Day celebration that took place at Mission Plaza, San Luis Obispo. It was a beautiful Spring day – the sun was out and so were the people.

My objective in attending this event was to communicate the law and the gospel to as many individuals as I could (glorifying GOD and loving people). I passed out tracts and engaged several people in gospel conversation.

After a couple of hours I ended up walking by one of the booths that I took a photo of earlier. I must admit, I was curious about what kind of literature they were offering. But still, I had no intention of engaging the people in the booth. I walked up the booth, grabbed a piece of their literature and started to step away.

Note the sign over their booth. The subheading of the sign states: “The San Luis Obispo Ministerial Association provides collegiality and spiritual support for religious leaders and builds bridges of understanding among our diverse traditions and in our pluralistic community.”

As I was stepping away from the table reading this piece of literature, from behind the booth table, a very soft-spoken gentleman asked me if he could answer any questions. I told him that I was just looking at their materials and expressed that the materials were "interesting." I then added that I too was attending the Earth Day celebration to engage people in conversations about spiritual matters. He asked me what "group" I was part of. I told him that I attend such and such a local church.

At this point, I'm not sure but it seemed that he jumped to conclusions about me rather quickly. I believe he thought I represented a church or organization and was interested in their "services".

So as not to add to the confusion, I reiterated who I was and what I was doing there that day. But I still didn’t tip my hat that I was a born again believer sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with those who are on their way to Hell in hopes that they would turn from their sin and trust in the Person and Work of Jesus Christ so they can be forgiven and have eternal life and enjoy GOD forever.

The gentleman’s name is Jared. He's a local Para-Rabi. Jared invited me to come behind the table and sit and chat with him. I chose not to sit in the chair he offered me but instead knelt down on one knee and leaned on the table just outside their booth.

If God was giving me the opportunity to witness to this man, I thought it best to not only speak humbly but physically lower my position so as not to give him any reason to feel I was standing over him - looking down on him. Then I asked him permission to record our conversation. He said “yes.”

I teased you with a snippet of this video in a blog post earlier this week. In it you’ll remember a reverend lady chases me away from their booth. She asks me to leave several times. Eventually I do but not before a small verbal struggle with her.

As you’ll see from the video, it was Jared and I who were having the conversation. The reverend wasn’t part of it. She, in my opinion, very rudely kept interrupting us. Note that each time she attempts to stop our conversation is when Jared ever-so-slightly raises his voice. I think it made her uncomfortable because these “teachers” (Jared) were there to promote “understanding among our diverse traditions.” But with the conversation Jared and I were having, it was clear that Jared wasn’t being very understanding about his personal sin or especially Jesus being the ONLY way to GOD. This was really what was upsetting Jarrod – sound familiar?

At some point the reverend sensed that I was trying to “proselytize.” That’s when she had enough and decided to engage me face to face.

Note that Jared never once asked me to leave. Had he, I would have left in a heart-beat (as I’ve done in countless witness encounters where a person asks me to leave them alone).

The only reason I stayed as long as I did is because the discussion I was having was with Jared and NOT the reverend. Yes – she repeatedly asked me to stop/leave. And maybe I resisted longer than I should have but my motive was to speak more with Jared – not to resist her.

In the end I really don’t know what to think about this strange encounter. I’ve thought and prayed about it all week. Did I do and say the right thing? What would you have done/said if you were in my position?

I know that as I was walking away from this encounter, OT Scriptures began to pour into my mind. "Why didn't you use that passage," I thought to myself. Then tons of NT passages came to mind. "Oh Allen, why didn't you quote that verse to Jarrod?" At the same time, I trust that the Holy Spirit was working in and through it all and ultimately, "salvation is of the Lord." He alone is in control of these matters. Still I do want to improve in my evangelism endeavors. So please, if you have something you think might help me for next time, leave your comments.