Saturday, June 23, 2007

Never Give Up

When I was on my way in to work yesterday morning but I had no openings to talk to anybody. Either everyone on the train already knew what I did and was hostile, or they were just deliberately lost in their own world. I sat down for most of the way, because my outside tendon on my right calf is hurting, but then I got up at the Forest Park Station, hoping that it would fill up then (which it usually does) so I could preach to the students. Didn't happen.

There was a young lady on the train whom I knew hadn't heard the Gospel, and I was pleading with the Lord not to let her off the train before I could preach. I knew that I couldn't approach her cold turkey, and I had no tracts, and the Central West End Station (which is where almost all the students get off the train) was the very next stop!

But the Lord didn't panic. She wasn't alighting at that station. And that was the station where I received my chance to preach: There is a Baptist Convention in town this weekend, and, oh, how I love to witness to church people!! A group of them boarded at the CWE and I asked them where they lived. I think all of this grup was from Chicago, but three different churches in Chicago. I asked them had they taken the Good Person Test--and the girl was right in the middle of them, so she looked up as I gave it to them.

One of the girls in the church group was so offended by being called a murderer, that she moved down the train before I got to the Good News! Everyone around saw her reaction as unreasonable. I had just explained why God calls us murderers when we hate, and it always makes sense, even to atheists. Her pride was in the way.

Finally, I asked the other ladies (young and adult) what God did for us so we don't have to go to Hell. They knew that. Then I asked what we have to do in order not to go to hell (I need to rephrase that to "escape the wrath of God"). They didn't know. I taught them about repentance, and it made perfect sense. One of the adults said that she had never heard the Gospel explained that way before and it made so much sense that she wanted to use it. Of course, I encouraged her to do so and told her about the Way of the Master website.

I also pointed out that the offended young lady ran away too soon, but that they could catch up with her and explain the rest. They agreed.

Then an older gentleman from Texas boarded the train and took her spot in the seats. I gave him the Good Person Test, and, when everyone around him started laughing, I told him that I had already given them the same test. Now the amazing part is that he didn't know how God could show us grace! (I have stopped telling people that God can't just let us go, when they say that God is a forgiving God. I ask them how God can be a forgiving God, what did God do in order to forgive us. It cuts down on the arguments and keeps them scrambling until they say Jesus--if they ever do. If they don't, I ask them what was Jesus doing here, or something like that.)

After I explained the Gospel to him, I marvelled at the fact that he had been in church so long and yet wasn't able to answer the most basic question of Christianity. What do they teach in these churches? I expressed the same sentiments on the way home after some Tool fans had left the train. There was some hatred expressed toward me (not that I felt threatened at any time), and one of the remaining passengers tried to justify it, saying that I was ruining their fun. Another of the guys said something about church people being saved or something, but I, remembering the earlier conversation, contradicted him. So many people in church aren't going to Heaven, simply because they have never been told to repent (though, some of them, I doubt if they would repent even if told).

There were a couple of instances when preaching to the Cardinals fans that stand out:

1) A little girl who eagerly admitted to hating her little brother. She sobered up really quick when she found out that she was a murderer. Then someone tried to say that we are all children of God. I said, "What? How are we children of God as liars, theives, and murderers-at-heart? Jesus said, 'Ye are of your father the devil, and the deeds of your father ye will do. For he was a murderer from the beginning' --and we've all admitted to being murderers here--"and abode not in the truth. When he speaks a lie, he speaks it of himself, for he is a LIAR, and the father of it.' So we are actually children of the DEVIL. That's why we need to be born again!" It was the best explanation of the Gospel I have ever given.

2) The two young boys whose parents gladly listened to me give them the Good Person Test. There were other people listening, too, as I corrected their view of stealer and hater. (Steelers are from Pittsburgh, Hater is the ghetto answer.) When I got to the part about what God did for us, the boys drew a blank. I reminded them of John 3:16. I was able to explain the Gospel and repentance and faith, and their parents were quite appreciative. That doesn't happen very often.

3) The guy who, in the midst of all these Tool fans called out "murderer!" as the answer to Question #3. I think he may have been in my audience once before. But he was the only person who got it right. Everyone was dismayed to hear that. And even more dismayed to hear me preaching repentance. They apparently thought that their apparel and tattoos and intentions would scare me off from preaching. Actually, it made me more fervent, because they are right now in the grips of death, and they don't even care.

4) The Christian guy who answered "sinner" and said that he never curses, he just says "bananabanana" when he gets mad. As in, "They are driving me bananas." Good idea. I might try that sometimes. Except that's an insult to one of my favorite fruits. But at least it's not taking God's name in vain.

Has anybody heard of Tool? They are a rock band with some apparently very evil lyrics. They were in concert last night, and their fans were mingled amongst the Cardinals fans. Never had so much hostility on the train. Nobody tried to beat me up, but no one was excited to hear what I had to say. I actually stayed out longer last night because the Tool fans were still coming in long after the Cardinals' game had started. Eventually, though, I did get to ride home. That's when I met Nede and Shay.

I forget at which station they boarded, but I felt compelled to talk to them. They were two rather immodestly dressed and foolish young ladies, and that always pricks my heart, because, as much as I don't want to be tempted, I can see how the devil has entrapped them with his lies, and I don't want him to get that victory. The Lord preserved me from lust as I gave them the Good Person Test.

As always, everything was cool until they learned that they were considered murderers before God. The explanation did make sense to them, but they didn't seem to be to worried about it. Then I said, "Here's the point of the Good Person Test: We're all gonna die some day..." Nede's face filled with alarm! And Shay reacted, just not as dramatically. I said, "It's true, isn't it? Ten out of ten people die? That's the universal truth." While we were in Birmingham, Andreas was reminded not to speak lightly of death, and he shared that story with us (I was on the same team). I can say, I am glad that someone I talked to finally took it seriously when I said, "We're all gonna die someday." I urged them not to put off repentance, but I didn't lead them in a prayer. I got their names (obviously) and told them that I would be praying for them. I had another guy to witness to.

His name is John Paul (named after the pope), he was raised Catholic (as you might have guessed) but is clearly not practicing. He said he doesn't believe in Heaven or hell. I did get him to admit that if the Bible is true, then he does deserve to go to Hell. I believe I was able to give him the Good News, but I had to explain it in a Biblical context, as opposed to the faulty one he was given in the Roman cult. There were also to young men sitting across from us, who clearly got to hear the Good Person Test. Don't know what effect it may have had.

When I finally got to my stop, there was a young lady sitting down waiting for the train. I asked her if she had taken the Good Person Test, and she said, "No," but agreed to take it. She struggled with the idea that we deserve to go to Hell (this has been happening frequently lately) but I explained to her that the reason we need forgiveness of sins is that we deserve to go to Hell--there's no urgency for Jesus to die if we are in no legitimate danger of Hell. In the end, Toni was grateful that I took the time to explain this to her. I bid her good night.

Finally, I met a young man who was at the end of the platform. I think his name was Kevin. He took the good person test, gave the right solution to our common dilemma, and said that he had received that solution. I encouraged him to use the Good Person Test, and shook his hand ("Good to meet another brother out here"), and bid him good night.

Well, that was the end of the conversations, but not the witnessing. I had some tracts from Apple of His Eye Ministries, a Jewish Missions Organization whose founder use to be a missionary with Jews for Jesus, and the makeshift parking lot was full (they are going to close it when they construct the new transfer station, but they have an alternative about on mile up Hanley Rd, which is one block down, so it's not that big a deal--and that lot is bigger). So I tracted the cars. There was a Transit Service Manager who drove into the lot to check on his drivers to see if they were running the buses on time: he either didn't see me standing there, or just didn't feel like being a bother. I finished tracting all the cars, the last one right in front of his face. He rejected the tract I offered him, and I went home. It was a good day.

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