Monday, January 12, 2009

Three encounters on a slow night in Richmond

Were it the middle of July, you would still not convince me that global warming was legit. You would have an especially difficult time convincing me this week. The temperatures have been frigid. The cold weather usually marks a slow time of year for our evangelism team here in Richmond. It's amazing to watch 70,000 people endure rain, snow, frost, or blizzard (and pay top dollar to do so) to watch their favorite sports team, but we can't seem to get a crowd of 10 people to stop and listen to how they might receive eternal life.

Well, that means that the winter months are a slow time for us with regards to reaching the masses. God uses the cold weather to sharpen us in our one to one evangelism skills. That is what He did with me last Friday night. There weren't crowds of people gathered on Broad St. for First Friday's last Friday but there were individuals milling around. We tried several times to engage people in conversations about the things of God. Again, between their complete lack of concern for their own soul, and the cold weather, it was challenging at first.

Finally, I ran across a young man named Brandon. He has only been living in Richmond for a few months and he is employed by a local nightclub called "5-3-4". It's a bar where alot of the college aged kids hang out near VCU. I thank God for the witnessing encounter I had with Brandon. He, like most, thought he was a good guy and that God would see fit to have Brandon enter His kingdom because of what other people thought about him. I was able to show him that God's righteous standard is not "What others say about you". It is His moral law. I opened up God's commandments to the young man. He saw quickly that he was a liar, adulterer, thief, and murderer. Brandon's eyes began to give him away and his body language changed from confident to humble, perhaps broken, before God. I explained to Brandon that his sin was against a God who in infinitely Holy and good and because of this, any crime against God was infinitely horrible and would be punished eternally in a literal hell. I explained what I call "healthy fear" to Brandon. Healthy fear is the fear we have of stepping in front of an oncoming truck or walking to close to a 1000 ft. cliff. This fear is good and it keeps us safe. The Scriptures tell us that the Fear of the Lord is the beginning of understanding. It also tells us the Fear of the Lord is clean. Brandon understood.

I laid out for Brandon what God did for him at the Cross. I showed him his need for the Savior. John 3:16 made sense to Brandon, perhaps for the first time in his life. He understood his need for the Savior and the need for repentance and faith in Christ. I went on to explain Jesus' resurrection and imminent return to judge His creation in righteousness. God was doing a mighty work in Brandon. I directed Brandon to get into God's Word daily and gave him my information go contact me. If you are a Christian, would you please take two seconds to lift up Brandon before the throne of grace today?

We left Broad St. for the Greyhound bus station and I immediately ran into John about 10 ft. from the front door of the station. John, was from Atlanta and professed to be a Christian but said he likes to keep an open mind about other beliefs. This, of course, was a red flag for me. As Christians, we aren't instructed to keep an open mind about other religions. We have the Truth in the person of Jesus Christ (see-John 14:6). An open-mind, though it sounds so 21st century, is not what we are called to as Christians. John was about 20 yrs old and talked to me for quite a while. I would probe John to make sure he was listening and he certainly was. He encouraged me to continue as I again explained to John his need for Jesus Christ. He understood, as Brandon did, that Jesus was the exclusive way to be reconciled to a Holy God. Any human effort to reconcile ourselves is like a criminal trying to bribe a judge by waxing the judge's car before entering the courtroom. A good judge cannot be bought but will make sure that justice is served against criminals in all cases. So it is with our God. He cannot be bought through our man-made religions that try to add works to the Grace offered through Jesus Christ. I used some apologetics with John but was careful to make sure the conversation was centered around the gospel and not apologetic arguments. John was very appreciative of the 30 minutes or so we were able to spend together. Pray for John.

Then I met Travis. Travis was coming from South Carolina where he had been in prison. He had been released that day and was headed home to Norfolk where his wife was waiting for him. Travis said he had just been baptized in the prison in December and was a brand new Christian. He agreed with everything I said but was still very young in his understanding of the gospel. If Travis has truly been born-again, we have God's promise that God will preserve Travis and will strengthen him in his faith. I hope that God allowed me to be a small part of that work in Travis' life that night. I told Travis, who also had a child waiting for him at home, that as a Christian man, he has the responsibility to be the spiritual leader of his home. I told him that the Spiritual headship and authority is something that God has given to him and that it was not an option for any believer. Travis has now been home from prison for one week. I pray that he is doing well and that God will continue to strengthen him and draw Travis unto himself. I pray that God would be most glorified in the life of that man.

I can still see their faces. All three of them. God certainly doesn't need me or anyone to accomplish His will. And yet, He give us the incredible privilege of participating in the Gospel proclamation around the world. What a gracious God we serve. What an incredible night to share the Gospel with three men I will never see again. I pray that I see all three of them in heave one day. Perhaps they will become missionaries or pastors or great fathers and husbands to their families. It is possible that they completely forget everything I said and go on sinning and die in that condition. Whether, the former or the later, may God be praised for who He is and let Jesus receive the full reward for His suffering.

Eternally grateful to my glorious King,


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