What a difference a day can make! Yesterday I went into Vernon to share the Gospel. After praying, I met a young man taking pictures of the scenery who was quite willing to listen to what I had to say. He said that he was a decent human being and that he did his best to be kind, but as we went through God's moral Law, he saw that he fell short of God's perfect standard. He was concerned that if the Bible was true, he would not be going to Heaven. I shared the Gospel and when I asked him what he thought of God taking a punishment that he rightly deserved, he acknowledged that God was "very kind and pretty awesome to do that for me". I gave him something further to read and went on my way.
The next fellow, Gabriel, was a French-Canadian fellow who told me that he was going to Valhalla when he died. He said that it was a type of waiting place, but I've since learned that it is thought to be a place where Norsemen go to do battle after they die. They then go on from there to feast with Odin and other warriors. You'd be surprised at the myriad of beliefs out there when you take the time to ask. I read once that a person's idolatry is as far-reaching as their imagination. Man forms a god to suit themselves or more specifically, to suit their sins and then worships it.
I asked him how he happened upon his belief in Valhalla and he said that it just sounded good to him. It would be something he'd like. He admitted that he was a pretty good person and again as he looked into the mirror of God's moral Law found in the 10 Commandments, he saw himself in truth and agreed that by God's standard, he was not good at all.
He still insisted that he was going to heaven though, so I asked him what the judge would say if I told him that on my way into court for robbing a bank, I had washed the judge's BMW. Gabriel laughed at the analogy and reluctantly admitted that his 'good deed' couldn’t bribe a good and just judge, nor could it free him from paying the consequences of his crime.
He was concerned enough for his soul that he wanted to hear the Gospel. He struggled with the fact that many of his friends were either Jewish, Muslim or Hindu and found it hard to believe that they would be going to Hell. I explained to him that only God can convert a human being; that it is a supernatural work. If God convicts you and grants you, Gabriel, repentance and faith, you can run to your friends and share the good news of the Gospel with them and they don't have to die in their sin. I told him the road to life was narrow and that only a few find it, because men love their sin and would rather hold on to it, than forsake it all and follow Christ. I asked him if he'd part with his eyes for a million dollars - I told him that with the money he could see the world!! (bad joke) But he said that he wouldn't and understood that his soul was worth far more than his eyes. Matthew5:29 We finished our conversation and he walked away reading a little booklet as he went.
Finally, I talked to three young fellows who when asked if they'd ever stolen anything, chuckled and admitted that they had done that very thing a few minutes ago!
Quick as a wink, I pulled out my police whistle and blew it with all my might, then screamed, "Thieves, Thieves, over here!!!" ...okay, I'm kidding, but that may have been kind of funny ...just kind of. Anyway, one of the three took the conversation very seriously, which is what I often find. Others may joke around, but one will be listening and it is always best to speak directly to that person. I know that as he listened, his face expressed concern and my hope is that he was under great conviction. May God continue to draw him in.
The next day, however, was different...
Curtis Baycroft (who really needs some lessons on how to apply make-up) and I went out into Armstrong to evangelize. The first fellow we talked to was painting pigs on windows to display the theme of this year’s IPE "Going Hog Wild". I gave him a million dollar bill and when I told him what it was, he picked it up, held it in front of me and looking into my eyes, proceeded to rip it in half! He crumpled it up and threw it on the ground. Either he was rich and had enough million dollar bills, or he had a bit of a problem with Christianity.
He said, "There is no god, Babe! You can go to the farthest galaxy and ask them if they believe in Jesus and they'll say, 'no'." I wanted to say, "I ain't your Babe", but I wasn't very quick on the draw. He went on to show his absolute displeasure with anyone 'religious', and went up one side of me and down the other side of Curtis.
We listened and interjected a few things here and there, but it seemed that everything fell on deaf ears. I wanted to leave him with something to think about and knowing that the Word of God is a sword that can pierce the soul, I calmly said, "The fool says in his heart that there is no God. That's not a fool like the three stooges kind of fool. The kind of fool described in the Bible is someone who knows the truth, but suppresses it. Sir, you know there is a God because of creation all around you and your conscience bears witness to the fact that there is a God. In the end, you'll have no excuse."
He went on to tell us how sorry he felt for us, so we politely said our 'good-byes' and went away.
Now here's the thing. It would be so easy to quit at that point because it wasn't a very pleasant experience. It was discouraging, somewhat shocking, embarrassing, frustrating, belittling and just plain difficult to listen to. It would have been easy to say out of self-preservation that I am never going to chance getting berated like that again...
Yet I have to think that what that man said to us is nothing compared to what Christians have had to endure in the past and are even enduring at this very minute...which is a reminder to pray for our brothers and sisters sharing the Gospel in so many hostile countries.
For me, it was a learning experience. How am I going to handle a similar situation in the future? What did I say that I could have said differently and more effectively? Will I ever look at pigs painted on windows in the same way again?
One of the many things I learned from the AmbassadorsAcademy last July was that no matter what, we can't quit....so with that in mind, we carried on to another part of town. We prayed first and then met a man who took the million dollars and then listened to what we had to say. We left feeling encouraged and blessed after a bit of a trying morning.
I am reminded of a verse in 1 Corinthians 15:58: Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Whatever you are doing in His service, never quit...take courage and carry on. Our labor is not in vain.