Saturday, January 10, 2009

Relationship Evangelism

I have a good friendship with every bank teller I know. I got to establish another friendship yesterday evening the same way I started all the others.

As Nathalia greeted me, I prayed not remembering if I had talked to her or not. There is another lady who has a similar appearance and her name is Nathalie. But her name badge was different, so I figured out that it wasn't her. Especially when I heard the accent (Russian?). I asked how her day was as she began processing my transaction, and she gave the usual answer, "Fine, and how about you?" I gave her a real answer: "Well, it's over," honestly expressing the strain of the day.

Which gave her the freedom to say, "Well, mine's not over yet, and it's been loooong!"

I didn't capitalize right away, and I don't know why, but I let her process everything, and then, as she was finishing my transaction, there being no one in line behind me (and only one customer in the bank...on a Friday???), I asked her, "Have you ever taken the Good Person Test?"

"The what?" Her eyes got big (which actually is rather common).

"The Good Person Test."

"What is that?"

"It's a three question test to see if you are a good person."

"Okay!" She was excited.

"Question number one: have you ever told a lie?"

"Yes."

"What does that make you if you tell a lie?" (I actually had to repeat the question because she didn't hear me the first time. People have often told me that I need to speak up.)

"A liar."

"That's correct. Question number two: Have you ever stolen anything?"

"No."

"I can't believe you--you just told me that you're a liar."

"What?!" She was a bit surprised, but not offended.

"Are you sure that you've never stolen anything at all, even if it was very small?"

"Never."

"Okay. Well, when I was a kid, my mom told me I couldn't have some candy; I waited until she wasn't looking and I took it anyway: so what does that make me?"

"A robber."

"No, robbers usually beat people up [and then steal from them]."

"Um...a stealer?"

"No, Steelers are a football team in Pittsburgh."

She had to laugh this time. "I don't know..."

I think I froze her brain with that Steeler thing. "A thief."

"Oh, okay."

"Question number three: have you ever hated anyone?"

"Hated anyone? Well, maybe."

"Have you ever cursed at or called someone mean names?"

"Yes."

"Is that treating them with love?"

"No."

"And the opposite of love is what?"

"Hate."

"So what does it make you if you hate somebody?"

"A bad person."

"What kind of a bad person, though? A liar is a bad person, a thief's a bad person."

"I really don't know."

"Okay. Well, the Bible says it makes you a murderer."

Now her eyes got really big for real. "I didn't know that!"

"Most people don't. So-"

"Wow, that means I'm a really bad person!"

"Well, all of us are. But that's why God sent Jesus to die for our sins." As I explained God's way of salvation, Nathalia repeated how undeserving she felt herself to be of God's forgiveness several times. I used that to impress upon her the goodness and love of God. God is not like us.

She asked, "But I repent and I say that I won't do it again, and I find myself doing it again a week later--the same things!"

"That's why God sends us His Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth and to guide us in the way of righteousness."

"But would He really forgive us that many times?"

"Yes. Jesus told us to forgive the same sin 70 times 7, and God is much mre loving than we are, so of course He could forgive the same sins."

Funny, she did keep saying also how much she didn't like talking about religion. But I said, "Well, let me leave you with this one thing," and I explained how Jesus lived a perfect life just so he could die for us, one more time. By this time, Renato had come up, working on some other things. He and I have talked a couple of times, and I pressed him hard the last time we talked on spiritual things. We greet each other warmly every time I come in. (Also, Angie, Heather, Chris, Amber, Melissa...Jack rejected the Gospel but we still were nice to each other, but I don't know if he still works there.) So he was there to hear her say,

"Well, thanks so much for giving me that message tonight."

You know, I could end this post right now, and it would be already good. But it gets better (though not with Nathalia. May she come to know the Savior and His love very soon...like last night, even).

I caught up with Spike at the Rock when Team Hope went downtown last night. I also made friends with John, Kyle, Samantha, Tiffany, Kanesha, Pam, Brittany, and Grant (who told me that he usually doesn't talk to me). I reacquainted with Will (drunken atheist/ignorant satanist) and Sam (drug dealer). Victoria kept trying to interfere with my conversations with Kyle and John. I saw Redd. I wish I could remember the other names I heard floating around during those two hours, but I can't.

John did say that he was amazed that we continued to come down there (almost) every week. I reminded him that Jesus hung out with harlots and sinners all the time (calling them to repentance, Matthew 9:13, not condoning their sins). It is amazing what 45 minutes of prayer beforehand can do for an outreach ministry. The only time the kids got riled was when Gabe got up to preach, but it was only a few and many of their "friends" were offended that they would be so rude to Gabe, noting his First Amendment rights. It's kind of weird having people who love their sin love me, too, when I'm telling them to stop, but it must have been the norm for Jesus, so I'll take it. Will you?

"If they are not your friends for eternity, they are not your friends." --Mark Cahill

Why don't you start some new friendships today?

P.S. I haven't seen Ian and Kali, and that bothers me (they hate me, but seeing them tells me that they are alive). Please also remember Niki, Tegan, Gabby, Bryn, Melissa, and Asia, and Brooke. Thanks.

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