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.

1 comment:

  1. Brother,

    I say with confidence that you handled the "reverend" scenario much better than how I would probably have. A grand and shameful display of rudeness and intolerance from one who demands politeness and tolerance of others. That would have been a toughie for me.

    You were no way out of line to any degree. You did all you could, showing great restraint and calmness (grace under pressure) despite the predicament forced onto you by the reverend.

    "Hindsight 20/20 verses" always fly into my head after almost every encounter I have with anybody...a common thing that means, I guess, we will always be learning, which is a good thing.

    Your way of handling Jarrod by first coming down eye to eye with him is commendable and should be encouraged to others. Very important to speak with people "on their level". Good move.

    Your conversation with him was excellent. You are a good listner, allowing him to express his beliefs in whole before trying to express yours. That shows consideration for the one you are trying to reach.

    And your responses to him were spot on...well...maybe except the ones you thought of AFTER you left the scene. :) Just kidding.

    As far as these types of multifaith organizations are concerned, it puzzles me that they do not remove Christianity out of the mixed bag of cookies they got there.

    If they did their homework, they would see, as you tried to point out to Jarrod, that Christianity proclaims (in our Lord's own words) that it is exclusive in its claim to salvation and eternal life in heaven.

    Shake the dust off the bottom of your feet there, bro, and move on. You done did good. Thank you and as always...

    All glory to God!