I planned to go out witnessing the first Saturday of 2012. My initial plan was to go to my normal fishing spot, downtown Columbus. There is plenty of foot traffic in the “bar district” to provide a lot of opportunity to distribute tracts and get into witnessing encounters.
But last night, as I was on my way out, (without my usual partner), I decided I’d try to stay closer to home. A large part of the Saturday night downtown witnessing is the fellowship in the car. And the Marcus Cinema Pickerington is only a couple miles from my local church, so I am always hopeful that if a convert was made there, they would be able to come to Berean Baptist Church as well!
As I pulled into the parking lot, I saw the theater building emptying quickly! I figured a movie must have just finished. I hurriedly parked my car and jumped out, excited to share the gospel. Popped opened the trunk and, voila!, no tract bag. I ALWAYS keep a tract and bible bag in the car! Alas, not tonight. So I walked toward the theater entrance with only the tracts that are “customarily” kept in my coat, about 40 of them.
I was walking toward the large entrance when I saw a couple of young men coming out the “side” exit. I strolled over and offered them tracts. Their names were Markell and Anthony. They are juniors at the local high school. I asked them standard questions about what they think happens after death; Anthony has a church background. They were both happy to talk. Anthony had a “mildly” strange belief that you go to 1 of 3 heavens. He said there was a heaven for people who accept Jesus and remain sinless, a lesser heaven for people who accept Jesus and still sin, and a third heaven for everyone else: which he said was basically hell. I had never heard anything like this before. I asked them what happens to a good Hindu boy who is raised Hindu and never hears of Jesus, and they were quite sure that boy would go to Heaven. When I explained the contradiction in their own “theology,” they understood and seemed interested in resolving the conflict. They each admitted to several sins and understood all the courtroom analogies about the good judge and the Judge of the earth doing what is Right. I explained to them about the glorious grace of Christ and challenged them to read the book of John: just 1 chapter a day. They agreed. Hopefully, the Lord will save them by his gospel.
One of the interesting notes of this conversation was their belief that people are born “basically good.” I explained to them about Adam and Eve and original sin and why we are all born sinners. This gave me opportunity as well to talk about the virgin birth. Praise God for the only consistent worldview, a biblical one. I honest can’t imagine how many cultists keep track of the lies they believe. But getting to talk about Adam and Eve was a blessing, because it allowed me to bring up the fact that there is only one race, the human race. These two young men, as well as most everyone I met last night would be commonly considered “black” and I would certainly be called “white.” I hope that being able to communicate to them that I believe we are essentially cousins through Adam and Eve greases any friction they may sense due to “racial” problems we’ve brought upon ourselves in our culture.
I then ran into Chris and Tiara. Obviously a ‘teen date-night.’ Chris was wearing an ornate rosary. I stopped him and asked him what it meant to him. I was, admittedly, shocked when he had no idea what a rosary is really for or what it represents. His girl was proud to point at it and say it “has Jesus on it.” So I asked them who they thought Jesus was and eventually got them to go through a good person test. Chris had a lot of trouble admitting sin or even keeping eye contact with me. Tiara is a professed Christian. Neither of them had any idea how they would obtain forgiveness, but Tiara seemed to know it had something to do with repentance and Jesus. I left them with tracts and a challenge to believe the gospel.
I continued to hand out tracts and finally made it near the large theater entrance. TEENS EVERYWHERE. I approached a couple young boys named Dayquan and DeBron. Another Dayquan and a boy named Christian eavesdropped as well. These kids were extremely interested in the entire conversation. Even when distracted, they kept coming back to the conversation. Dayquan (1), after the gospel presentation, indicated that he had been baptized. It always amazes me when right after a gospel conversation, people seem to have no idea what I just told them. I reminded him that salvation was offered by grace through faith alone and I trust the Spirit of God can and will use His gospel to regenerate the hearts of these young men if they are of His elect. I wasn’t trying to boast, but at one point in the conversation I was trying to communicate how important this message is. I told them that the message itself, and their souls, was so important to me that I was missing time with my wife, “and the Lions game,” I said. At that point, I realized how really low I God had to reach to pull me out of the gutter…I am sortof a Lions fan. 😉
I was pleased that these guys were apparently friends with Chris and Tiara, who came back. They chuckled when they saw their friends talking to me. Praise God that they all allowed me to pray for them (as did Anthony and Markell) as we stood in a circle in public. I can tell you I would have NEVER let some freak pray for me in public when I was in high school!
Finally, I found another group of teens “milling about.” As I approached them I reaching into my pocket and pulled out my tracts. Upon seeing this, these guys (who must be from a rough neighborhood?), sorta “freaked out.” I realized what they thought and I made a joke about a guy “pulling out a piece in public.” One of the guys laughed and said, “M0t4er f***er just said ‘pull out a piece!'”
This isn’t exactly mind-blowing. Of course, I personally try to avoid profane language (eph 5:29), but what is most interesting to know at this point is that during the course of the conversation with these 4 guys (Montrel, Doug and two unnamed individuals), I found out they all go to the same church. Salvation is by grace, but I don’t imagine God’s people using that type of language, at least not for long. When I asked them about what happens when they die, they said that they either go to hell, or if they get the “holy ghost” they can go to Heaven. I asked them how to get the holyghost. They weren’t sure, but Montrel had recently gotten baptized, which he indicated was a step in the right direction. This was a tough bunch, distracted through the conversation, proud of the fact they were ‘presently lusting’ and disruptive to the point that I sternly chastised the one young man to simply be quiet. I told him that if he did’t care about his own soul, that was ok, but I cared about it and maybe his friends cared about their own. I thanked him afterward for controlling himself.
I finished off all my tracts and took my frozen fingers to my car and returned to my wife. It was really a wonderful experience, and I hope the Lord will save one or many of these young people. I was really impressed overall and had a fun time talking to young people. Thanks be to God for the opportunity and for His wonderful faithfulness.