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Monday, August 28, 2006

Observations from my Jerusalem

As I mentioned Friday, I took some time this week to work on evangelism at a major event in our community. During this time, I surveyed people in a way quite consistent with the style you would hear on Way of the Master Radio. This style is the very biblical approach of using the law to reveal a person's need for Christ. You can click here to see the results of the survey. I'd like to give you a glimpse at just some of the conversations I had this week. The survey was anonymous, so names are made up:
Ok, Tony's name is not made up. He gave it to me, so I figure I can use it. Tony is a genuine brother in the Lord and it was a delight to talk to him. Tony was skeptical about being interviewed, but as soon as I asked him if he was a good person, he jumped on it like a pit bull on a t-bone. Tony began to tell me the last thing he would call himself was a good person, until Jesus took over his life. Tony then began to tell me about the cross, Christ's offer to Him, and the righteousness he has found in Him alone. Tony even had the gall to ask me if I knew Christ! It was a blast. (Tony attends a church called Lighthouse.)
    Alex and Barbara
Alex and Barbara were a married couple who agreed to be interviewed. Throughout the survey they confessed that they had violated all five commandments. Yet, when asked if they would be innocent or guilty, they simply said innocent. When I questioned them how that could work (for they had just confessed to being a liar, theif, blasphemer, murderer and adulterer), they reluctantly (almost embarrassed) claimed Jesus. I then asked what He has to do with anything, to which they fired off several different cliches ("asked Him into my heart," "I've got God," "I've accepted Him," "I'm His," just to name a few). I pressed more and they could not explain what the cross accomplished.

As a troubling side note, midway through the conversation, the wife acknowledged that her husband's "goofy" behavior (it was somewhat odd) was probably due to the fact he had too much to drink. (As far as I know, alcohol is not permitted on the property, so this must have happened before they arrived.) At one point, the wife began to preach at me, telling me I needed each of the cliches she offered me (see above). At the end she asked what church I attend. I told her and then asked for their home church. She explained they don't attend anywhere right now. Here was a couple--slightly inebriated, with no clear understanding of the gospel and no desire to be a part of a fellowship of believers--who walked away quite confident of their salvation because they can speak Christianese. It broke my heart.
There was a strong correlation (at least this time in the survey) between those who denied even lusting for someone and those who deemed themselves innocent before God. It was also abundantly clear that a if a person only claimed to be guilty of 3 of the 5 questions (or less), they were not going to conclude that they were guilty before God.
Charlie is the only person in the entire survey that admitted to adultery before they were shown Jesus' words, yet Charlie denied even having an angry thought toward someone. Ironically, Charlie was probably the rudest, most abrupt person I interviewed. When I asked, "Innocent or Guilty," he claimed innocent. He said he was innocent because of Jesus. When I pressed how that works, he told me "Jesus is my Redeemer." When I asked what that meant, he looked at me, told me he didn't know but he doesn't question God and walked away from me, waving his hand. Clearly, we were not experiencing sweet brotherly fellowship.
    Dawn and Edgar
Dawn and Edgar admitted to violating all of God's standards and confessed they would be guilty on the day of judgment. Dawn appeared broken, tears in her eyes, hanging on my every word. Her husband however, looked bored and frustrated. Like a question I've heard Todd Friel ask so many times, I asked him if he would sell both his eyes to me for $1,000,000. He of course said no (as everyone did who I asked) because his eyes are important to him. I then encouraged them to consider that their souls were more valuable than their eyes. I told them they both need to consider their eternity. He wrapped the conversation up and proceeded to escort his wife away from me. Then I did something probably unfair. I pointed to her obviously-pregnant-belly and told her that her baby's soul is worth more than her eyes too and she'd want to make sure she could tell it about Jesus. Obviously, I'm praying they are still thinking of it.
Festus had a buddy (we'll call Gary) along with him. Festus admitted guilt, as did Gary, but Festus wanted to try to be philosophical to avoid issues. He claimed we all have God in us (including animals) but also believed we are more valuable than the animals. Festus continued to back himself into corner after corner but would deny his inconsistencies. The true annoyance was that Gary was listening. Finally Festus had heard enough (when he asked if I actually believed in the devil and I confessed I do) and grabbed Gary's arm and walked away. Before he turned, I got a chance to make eye contact with Gary's tear filled eyes. Festus' "wisdom" not only kept himself from seeing Christ, but he was doing all he could to keep others from seeing Him too.
On this night, I didn't really feel like going out. Yet, I reminded myself of the committment I had made (see: Ecclesiastes 5:1-6) and decided I'd atleast give it a shot. I walked over to "mic tent" and saw a man standing there. He was in his forties (and people over 30 had the higher rate of turning me down) yet was wiling to talk. We walked through the law, to which he concluded he'd be found guilty...except God was obviously OK with him. When I asked why, this man proceeded to tell me countless miraculous things that had happened in his life. According to his own accounts, his life had been spared by divine intervention several different times. He concluded by saying, "Obviously, God is alright with me and has a purpose for me. I'll figure that out some day." Fortunately for me (and I believe for him), I had just read this excellent article and was prepared for a different perspective. "Perhaps God is being patient with you, giving you time to repent." We began to talk about how we can tend to abuse God's grace as a means to excuse our living. I began to be brutally honest with Henry, yet it was as if he couldn't get enough. We did not pray a sinner's prayer. I have no idea if Henry truly repented and trusted Christ. But Henry promised me he was going to go home and talk with God about this (and I believe him). As he walked away he asked, "Have you ever been in a situation where you know God put you there because there is no other explanation?" My response, "Like tonight? Oh yeah!" I'm praying we have a new brother and thanking God for a handful of other conversations very similar to this.
    Family of Grace
It was incredibly encouraging to see people from our church walk by. Those who noticed what I was doing would give me a smile, wink or wave. I was encouraged, believing that they were also praying for me. It was truly a lift during some very heartbreaking conversations.

(More thoughts tomorrow on what I thought of the survey process.)


  • At 5:43 PM, Blogger Brad said…

    Very discouraging and very encouraging all at the same time. Thank you for being willing to do that, Danny. And thanks for talking about it.

  • At 6:58 PM, Blogger ~~anna~~ said…

    I remember the night we were leaving the fair and ran into you coming in. I felt bad having teased you about coming over for some fair food, when you were there to 'be a witness in Jerusalem'
    What a genuine encouragment and blessing it was for us to hear what you were planning to do! Yes, we did pray for you even as we walked along the side of the road.
    Now we will continue to pray for those who have heard the truth.

  • At 8:49 PM, Blogger danny2 said…

    thanks be to God that He allows us to be ambassadors!

  • At 11:27 PM, Blogger matt morrison said…

    its encouraging to hear about you doing this. this is something that took a lot of courage. i know me and some of the other guys in the youth group did something a little similar the one year and didnt have very good results with it as we were turned down by numerous people. i am glad that you were able to talk to numerous people and will be praying that God work in the hearts of those you talked with.


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