I Tried Friendship Evangelism and You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

This is my report from the pre-game evangelism at tOSU on 9/23/2017. If you are only interested in the friendship evangelism part of the story, scroll down until you see “Finally.”

Sept 23, 2017 was another day of fruitful ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ at Ohio Stadium. The Buckeyes took on the UNLV Running Rebels, but before that, my team ministered to those attending and generally hanging around.

For the game on the 16th, I reported that I had a team of 13 people preaching and tracting. For the 9/23 game I only had 5 people! One of the team members was a total surprise that morning, a woman named Debbie whom I had never met before. And my friend Jeff came with me very last minute. I was also grateful for the old faithful, Joshua & Rachael Richards. We were not many in number, but Joshua and I managed to preach for about 90 minutes apiece while Rachael, Debbie and Jeff passed out at least 1,000 tracts!

We sang a few hymns to get started. The sound of the female voices mixing with mine of Joshua’s was very pleasing to my ears and I trust to our Lord’s as well. We had the usual batch of folks who encouraged us and folks who were indifferent with a small number of dissenters.

I want to share 3 things about this outreach which I find remarkable.

First, after years of preaching there, I was approached by one of the traffic cops because he wanted to encourage me. He said he is praying for the people who hear and sent me his really great testimony. He was saved and ended up forgiving his father’s murderer and sharing the gospel with him. If you are interested in that story leave a comment or go to the contact me page and let me know you’d like to read his testimony.

Secondly, I think I finally found an application for a passage of Scripture that has always escaped me.

Mark 9 38 John said to him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in your name, and we tried to stop him, because he was not following us.”39 But Jesus said, “Do not stop him, for no one who does a mighty work in my name will be able soon afterward to speak evil of me. 40 For the one who is not against us is for us.

I have never felt I understood the application of those verses. Every time I heard someone refer to that passage, they were referring to heretic prosperity preachers! I knew this verse couldn’t possibly mean that we support false teachers, just because they say Christian things.

But Saturday I noticed something. For the second week in a row, a large group of people from another church in town were there passing out tracts and holding signs. And another group of believers were there most weeks last year and all 3 weeks of this year too. You see, these people go to churches where I have enough doctrinal disagreement that I doubt I’d ever partner with them in an evangelistic outreach. But, I did have sweet fellowship with them in just a few minutes of conversation. And then it hit me, they may not be with me, but these folks are not against me either. They are fighting the same battle for souls, but from a different understanding of Scripture.

Finally, I had a chance to practice friendship evangelism {GASP}. Observe.

A young man approached me carrying a bicycle (I always find that decidedly odd). I was handing out tracts and I offered him one. He gave me the kindest smile and said no thank you and walked past me.

As providence would have it, the light changed and he was ‘stuck’ at the intersection with me, but there was no more traffic, so I struck up conversation.

Me: So, do you go to school here or work here?
Eli: I go to school here.
Me: What’s your name? I’m Michael.
Eli: Eli.
Me: Oh, that’s a good Bible name.
Eli (visibly bothered sorta grumbles without making a sound)
Me: Where you from?
Eli: Urbana.
Me: Oh, my friend lived there. Her son is XXXX.
Eli: I know him. He graduated a year ahead of me.
Me: And Buck Nut is from there too, right?
Eli: Yeah, Larry Lokai! I just saw him.
Me: That’s cool. So can I give you one of my cards now (extending a tract).
Eli (smiling): No, thanks. I still don’t want one.
Me: Even after this friendly conversation you still won’t take one?
Eli (still smiling, this guy had charisma): Nope.
Me: Ok. I’m going to write about this encounter. You’ve helped me prove a point I want to make to some folks.
Eli: Perfect, glad I could help.

Then the light changed and he walked off toward the sunset carrying his bicycle. Ok, that was a bit dramatic. It was 9:30am and the sun was still in the east, but I digress.

You see, dear reader, the point is that this was the exact situation friendship evangelists claim is required to get the gospel to people. Friendship evangelism, in its common practice can be loosely defined as not giving folks the gospel but doing good works so that people will see Jesus in you and ask you about the hope you have. People need to be warmed up to the gospel by our good works, kindness and godly behavior, without bashing them over the head with the Bible or talk of sin. You must adorn the gospel to make it palatable to them.

Many people, and maybe even you, my friend, use the concept as friendship evangelism as your excuse to not give out the gospel to people. Some twist scripture enough to the point where they practically have their mouths taped shut waiting for a non-believer to drop to their knees and say “What must I do to be saved?”

But on September 23, friendship evangelism failed to live up to its billing. Eli simply had no more desire to take a tract after my kindness toward him than before. In fact, he laughed at the implication that he would. And that is because friendship evangelism is a made up thing which is antithetical to the biblical explanation of how evangelism is done, even “personal evangelism.” You see, the gospel is a proclamation that the King of kings and Lord of lords has accomplished on the cross and in His glorious resurrection all that was needed to atone for His people’s sin. And that each and every one of us must repent of our own sin and trust Jesus Christ as our only righteousness before a holy and just God. And it is only in hearing this message that man can truly be drawn to Christ, and it is only by faith in this message that a man can be saved.

So withholding the gospel from someone whose heart is darkened by sin and waiting for them to ask you to give it to them is analogous to a medic waiting for a knocked out person in an ambulance to request CPR. No, my friend, we who are living must be giving the life-giving words to those around us who are dead and trust God to quicken all those whom He has chosen from before the foundation of the world.

Thank you for reading this post. I try not to ‘break dry bread’ with you, but at the same time I like to paint the picture of how things that day. Please pray that God would grant salvation to those who heard the Word preached or received tracts!

Army @ Ohio State Outreach Report

September 16, 2017 was a record day for attendance at the Ohio Stadium where the Army Black Nights visited for a college football game.

The attendance record was set when 12 total evangelists showed up to help. Including me there were 13 of us there to serve Christ and the lost!

I want to thank, Cory, Fred, both men named Mark S, Luke, Nick, Alexandra, Kenton, Joshua, Rachael, Caleb and Rick! Cory, one of the Marks, Joshua, Caleb and I all preached. At one point we were preaching on 3 separate corners of the large intersection of Lane and Olentangy River Rd!

The crowd was typical. 15% encouraging Christians, 5% rude or profane haters who mocked or scoffed and 80% apparently indifferent. But we know that God’s Word is powerful (Heb 4:12), and we trust that God will not let His lost sheep stay lost! Pray for God’s elect who visited Ohio State that day to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit! I mean it, pray now even!

Hundreds of tracts were passed out, and we estimate at least 20,000 people heard the gospel. We preached for over 3 hours and had a steady flow of traffic!

One of the men on our team who is new to street preaching wrote the following message. What a wonderful God Jesus Christ our Lord is to be encouraging this young man and using me and my team to do so.

I want to take a minute to thank you for the opportunity of ministering with you the last couple weekends at the OSU games. As I shared with you when we first talked on the phone, I had a desire to extend my personal ministry to the street, and I truly believe God led me to be trained by your and your team.

You have shown me that its not only important to “work” for the Lord, but also to selflessly “labor” for the Lord. As I have found so far, this is a very challenging and intimidating ministry at times, but I also see through your example that this is a very rewarding work. I am proud to continue to serve and learn more about this ministry with you, and I thank you and your team for accepting me and making me feel so welcome!

God Bless,
Cory

Better Sooner than Later – OU@OSU Outreach Report

On September 9, 2017 the first outreach to the Ohio State Buckeyes home football games for the 2107 season occurred. Here are some highlights of the wonderful day our gracious God provided for us.

Here I am with one of the OSU “superfans,” a man who is called Buck Nut.

First, one of the hardest things about outreaches is getting people to commit. Every time we go out to proclaim the gospel we encounter spiritual opposition in the form of folks who said they were going to labor alongside us having “something come up.”

It seems that praying for our team sooner than later is paramount to our success. God can certainly clear people’s schedules, and God is also able to give people hearts that are willing to overcome difficult times. It is a persistent failure of mine to pray in advance of these events not only for the event itself, but for the laborers I invite.

Nevertheless, we had a team of 7 people who went, including 3 teenage young men. We also had 4 people who open air preached, which is really a gift from God.

Lane & Olentangy River Rd from the West.

 

You see, we preach at a very busy street corner which lies between thousands of parking spots and Ohio Stadium. This is a strategic location where we know we will encounter tens of thousands of people. Sporting event crowds are very transient, always on their way to somewhere. So although very few people are in a position to stand and listen to preaching for very long, a large number of people hear preaching. And, thanks to stoplights, they hear it for a few minutes, enough to piqué their interest if God is calling them to belief.

Because we had so many men willing to preach, we actually spread out over two corners of the intersection which means the people who normally would not hear the preaching because it was across the street would now hear God’s Word proclaimed to them and Christ exalted in their hearing. Praise the Lord for providing unexpected help in Joshua who decided to come last minute and a faithful brother who we just met yesterday named Corey, both of whom preached!

I started preaching at about 5pm and within a few minutes I had several loud and profane hecklers. It was disappointing but it’s part of the routine. But while I was preaching I noticed a man named Beejay who seemed convicted of sin and listening intently. I spoke directly to him a couple of times and finally called him over after I asked him if he believed and wanted forgiveness of his sins and he nodded yes.

I had just started preaching, and I hate stopping when the crowds are growing, but I felt an obligation to this young man to talk to him, so I told Kurtis to get ready and start preaching. This is quite a luxury to have someone who can preach in this situation. I guess I could have also had someone else talk to Beejay, but I wanted to. Beejay spoke like a man who was convicted of sin, repentant and reliant upon Jesus Christ alone for his salvation. We talked, he asked me to pray for him and I did, and exchanged information.

Check this out – on the way to the stadium, Corey, who is new to our team asked me if I invite people to my church. I said, “Sure, but most people we meet at OSU don’t necessarily live close to my church.” Well as it turns out in God’s providence and goodness, Beejay lives about 2 miles from me! I hope to be able to disciple him and eventually have him going with us to win souls!

Kurtis proclaiming God’s Word. This young many is only 17 and loves Jesus and desires to see God’s elect brought into God’s family!

The rest of the day was generally routine. Kurt (17), Joshua, Corey and I preached and had our fair share of haters and a much larger portion of encouraging Christians. I ran into an old acquaintance from my high school who remembered me preaching the year before, a coworker who was very supportive and an old friend who I hadn’t seen in a decade who was happy to see me. It was all very encouraging. On top of that, someone who was pleased with what we were doing gave us $10 which I gladly used toward my teenage evangelist post outreach meal!

Rachael (Joshua’s wife) helped by holding a sign and supporting us and Chase (17) and Kenton (14) spent then entire time distributing tracts. Maybe over a thousand? I don’t know, I don’t count them. 6 people responded to our sign that reads “Free Bibles” and took a copy of the New Testament with them. What a blessing to us! What a great God we serve to give us such a refreshing and joyful day, free from serious affliction.

I am very excited about what God is planning for the fall college football season. Please pray for me and my team according to (Eph 6:18-20)

praying at all times … and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel,…that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak.

This view is taken from the Southeast corner facing north. You can see Corey on the left in the white jersey. And you cannot tell, but those who know him can see Kurtis in the way distance right in the center of the photo preaching on the other corner.

Rape, Incest and Abortion

On Facebook, someone posted “Can a Christian be pro-choice on the abortion issue?” The ensuing responses were varied.

I ended up in a bit of an argument with one of the commenters. Here’s the comment thread if you want some background to my comments. Clicking the screenshot will take you to the Facebook post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you see here is my response to Donald’s final comment with Donald’s comment included.

OK. Donald. I hate to have to do this, but maybe for the benefit of someone who will read this, if not you as well.

You wrote //** Ted, I love God as my Father and and His Son Yeshua (Jesus) as my Lord and Friend. I am sorry about my last response but that was the mentality of the logic being offered in the discussion that turned to Michael’s condemnations, assumptions and judgments. **//

1. Then you are not sorry. True apologies aren’t followed by excuses. Just stand by what you said.

2. I made no assumptions. I simply believed what you said. You said it is OK to murder a little baby in some situations, the situations you define as it being OK. I also cannot condemn, but I can warn you of God’s condemnation on those who approve of wickedness, promote wickedness or participate in wickedness (murder is wicked, BTW, child murder even more wicked maybe).

3. I am not ashamed of judgement. You are saying evil things, should a man of God sit by quietly when evil is spoken in the name of our Lord who you claim to represent?

You wrote //** I love God but to force a women to suffer continued injuries after being raped by stranger of family is unreasonable to me. **//

1. Here’s a tip – if you start a sentence with “I love God,” don’t include “but” in that sentence. This is my fear for you Donald, that you don’t really love God. Because God demands devotion above and beyond our apparent care for other people. (Luke 14:26)

2. And here’s the real point, Donald. You say you don’t want to force a woman to suffer continued injuries after being raped…this is noble. The problem is that becoming a murderer is actually the WORST thing for the woman. Abortion is a terrible thing to do TO a woman. So if you really don’t want woman to suffer further injury after rape or forced incest, encourage them to trust God, respect life and find healing in Jesus Christ rather than simply murdering an innocent baby. Nothing will be more detrimental to a woman in that situation than the belief that ending the pregnancy will make them feel better only to realize that ending the pregnancy NOT ONLY does not make them feel better but it will add the guilt of murder for the rest of her life on her conscience.

If you love women – tell them abortion is absolutely sinful and point them to Jesus Christ.

You wrote //** My point to Michael is that the sin needs to be stopped at it’s beginning! With sex deviants getting little to no time, many of those with wealth not even being approached for their indecencies, we instead continue the assault on the victim! ALL other abortions I detest and consider murder. Can I possibly be any clearer? **//

1. Logic is important. God is logical. He doesn’t change. He cannot deny Himself. So we, made in his image must be logical.

2. There is simply no logic to this statement. The post is about abortion. Do I really need to tell you I oppose rape? I do. But does the fact that I stayed focus on the topic of discussion somehow mean you can imply I am not against rape?

3. No you cannot be clearer, Donald. You have made it clear that murdering babies is OK if you think the baby’s conception was the result of some other sin where the mother was the victim of the sin. << This is actually what we are arguing about.

You wrote //** To Michael, it is more important as to the exception to my stance on abortion while ignoring the new Oregon gender abortion law that allows abortions for gender choice as late as 9 months pregnant! Michael did not seem to care about that one word worth! Shame .

1. Now what’s really interesting is how you try to twist everything with your final statement. You imply that I don’t care about an Oregon law regarding abortion when, in fact, my stance from the beginning has been anti-abortion entirely. If you did this intentionally, it is sin to misrepresent me in this way. If unintentional, then I guess I can overlook it.

2. You seem to be arguing that abortion for gender selection at a late age is unacceptable, but abortion for the reasons you gave, presumably at a younger age is OK. This is a sin and a logical fallacy. The age of the human being being slaughtered by abortion is irrelevant to the fact that it is murder. Reasons may seem more or less barbaric or irrational, but in the end, I’m not here to judge the apparent motives of the murdered, I’m here to judge the action of murder. In my view, I don’t need to play with these distinctions, I think abortion is murder all the time.

This is why I asked you when it ends, Donald. Can a woman who was raped have a baby then look at the baby, be reminded of her rapist and kill the child? Why not? Why would you force her to suffer again? By your logic you could not prevent that, unless you just want to play the “we can kill babies before they have faces or have formed hands” young gestational age argument.

Donald, your soul is important. You are either a sinner deceived into thinking he knows Christ or you are a seriously in error, immature in thinking, Christian. I challenge you to consider these things because I care about your soul. You are important too, just like raped women and babies.

If your response to this is just that I’m hateful and judgmental then you’re not reading. The entire post was written for your benefit, that you may see clearly. Are you offended that I say you do not see clearly? I’m sure you are. But faithful are the wounds of a friend. I care too much about Jesus, babies, women who are victims and you, Donald, to not tell you these things.

P.S. In case this needs to be said (which is really sad if it does) – I also believe rape to be wrong. And incest is wrong. And incestual rape is wrong. I do not think it is logical to say that because I oppose abortion I in any way endorse sinful acts which could result in pregnancy. If you read my anti-abortion arguments and come away believing I am defending rape you are seriously mistaken and likely misinterpreting intentionally to fulfill your own agenda or just lacking in some basic skills of reading and logic. I do not mean to be harsh or mean about this, but we need to be grownups who can have a conversation on one topic and not misrepresent the things people say.

All Have Sinned

Once again the good folks at the Veritas Domain are letting me post. Here is my latest post about the verse “all have sinned” which had an unexpected meaning:

Romans 3:23 is perhaps one of the most popular verses I have heard in evangelism. I have used it myself to point out to folks that they have sinned. But S. Lewis Johnson has opened my eyes to something really interesting about that passage!

Click here to read the rest…

Open Air Preaching from Home

I am sure you’ve heard of “working from home.” But have you heard of open air preaching from home? I want to share what I think was a singularly unique experience to me. Maybe you’ll think so, too!

My 3 year old son Wesley had just gone outside into the backyard. My teenagers were on the couch with my 9 month old and my wife was gone. All was quiet on our little street and then I heard the doorbell, or a knock. I looked over and saw a man in a suit with a young boy. I figured they were Jehovah’s Witness, and headed over to the door.

The young boy showed me a pamphlet and was trying to talk to me. You could tell it was taking some courage for him to do whatever he was doing. Had he been a boy scout or a basketball player raising money for a trip, I’d have bought popcorn or candles or whatever he was peddling to encourage him.

After I took the pamphlet I looked quickly at it to find the JW markings. The man was saying something about Scriptures and the boy was talking about love…and I told them to hold on, while I went and grabbed a tract.

I always try to give JWs a tract because I have been told they are not allowed to take them. It’s a test, in a sense. If they take it, fine. If they refuse, it opens the door to asking them why I should take their stuff and they don’t take mine, etc.

So I went out on the porch and started asking the boy what he thought. He kept saying they were walking around to ask people what “they thought.” I asked him if he believed Jesus died on a cross for sinners, and he mumbled yes and then the older man corrected me and said Jesus died on a stick. I repeated that He died on a cross and then asked if they believed Jesus is God. The boy just stared and the man said “No.”

I don’t intend to prove this here, but if you do not believe Jesus Christ is God, (and not just “a” god, but the God) you do not believe the saving gospel.

So I started talking to the boy and telling him that whatever the man he is with has been telling him is false and will lead him to Hell. I started explaining that Jesus had to be God to die in the place of sinners; that if Jesus was only a man that He would not have been able to satisfy God’s wrath for sinners!

The reason I did this is twofold.

  1. I have found that JWs usually travel in pairs, (like Sith), and, like Sith, there is usually a learner and a ‘master.’ I believe all men who hear the saving gospel of grace and of Christ’s glorious resurrection can be saved, but I’ve found experienced JWs particularly hard to interact with. But a 9 or 10 year old child who was obviously nervous about whatever faith he had? I was sure I could get him thinking and maybe be used of God for his salvation.
  2. As I mentioned, the context was that I had a 3 year old alone outside, a couple of teenagers watching a baby and no wife at home. I didn’t believe I had time for a friendly conversation where I slowly tried to lead them to the gospel. Nor, honestly, do I want to listen to their beliefs. I know many wonderful Christians who will sit and listen to pagans share their thoughts and many times blaspheme Christ. I do not believe it is my duty to allow them the privilege.

The man immediately recognized what was happening and saw he would get nowhere with me and said, come on, let’s go. And he led the lad away. So I quoted Matthew 18:6 to him. They, of course, kept walking, so I kept talking, louder and louder. Within seconds I was open air preaching from my porch to this man and this child as they met with one of their cohorts across the street. I continued to preach the necessity of the new birth, believe in the deity of the Christ and the truth of the resurrection for the justification for sinners. You could see the bewilderment as I do not think they expected this, nor probably ever encountered it.

I started to hope I had neighbors who would hear the preaching too! I saw a family walking toward the house who looked like they may be the young lad’s family and I started preaching in their direction. Finally, they all headed as far away as they could until I could no longer see them.

I am sure some (Christian) people would not feel comfortable with this story. But when was this young man going to hear the gospel if not from the preacher whose door he was brought to providentially? Do I know how many more days any of those folks had before they met their maker? Do you not believe that it is through the foolishness of what we preach that men are saved from the wrath of almighty God?

I am not saying that is the only way to interact with JWs (or anyone). But I am grateful to God for the opportunity to preach His Word today, even if it was only for 3 minutes. 6 people heard the gospel, my own children heard me preach the gospel and saw the importance of it.

Maybe the sweetest part was coming inside and praying with my children for the salvation of sinners and then singing hymns together as worship of Jesus Christ! May God be praised and may He have mercy on the men and woman and children who visited my neighborhood today.

Our Identity (EDIFY 2016)

Here is where you can find my 3 part series on Identity.