Practical evangelism lesson #1: When going out into the community to evangelize on a Saturday afternoon, go earlier instead of later.
Usually when my friend Brian Shank
and I go out into the community around our church (Kosmosdale Baptist
) on Saturdays to talk with people about the Good News of Jesus Christ, we hit the streets at about 2PM. This Saturday I showed up at Brian's house later, so we did not get out into the community until a little after 4PM. This turned out not
to be as good a time to go because by 4PM on Saturday most people are out either out having fun with their families, or they have been sitting around the house drinking too much alcohol.
So when Brian and I approached two older men sitting in a garage drinking beer, the more talkative of the men told us he already knew more about the Bible than we do and that he is already a Christian. Then he cussed at us and said, "Bye!" waving at us dismissively. Now, usually when people indicate that they are refusing to speak with us- that they have no interest in hearing about Jesus- Brian and I may ask if we can leave a booklet (for example, Ultimate Questions
) with them, but otherwise we honor their wishes and leave them alone. In this case, however, we were both so struck with the discrepancy of the man claiming to be a Christian and yet cussing at us and dismissing what we had to say, that neither Brian or I made a move.
Not knowing what to say, I simply commented, "You seem to have a lot of animosity." The man protested that he had no animosity for anyone, he just already knew what we had to say and didn't want to hear it.
By God's grace, Brian had the boldness to bring up the Ephesians 5, which contains the command, "Do not be drunk" (v.18)- the man with whom we were speaking was at least half drunk- and makes it clear that no unclean person will inherit the kingdom of God (v.5).
Having already cussed at us, I half expected the man to jump up and attack us, but he simply protested that he wasn't drunk and that the two garbage pails full of crushed beer cans were all given to him and his friend by neighbors. He also tried to accuse us of being judgmental towards him. Brian and I said that we were not judging him- that we are sinners just like him- but that we are concerned for his soul, based on what we were observing. We spoke of the present salvation from sin that we are meant to have through the death and resurrection of Christ. The man kept insisting that he was "saved" because he prayed for forgiveness every night before going to sleep and that he felt Jesus in his heart- apparently defining "saved" by a prayer and a feeling.
We challenged the men to examine themselves by the standard of God's Word to determine if they were truly saved, and Brian insisted that Christianity is not only a daily prayer, but seeking God in all of life.
Being dismissed several more times, we finally left, saying that we would be praying for them. The men said that they would be praying for us as well.
The only other conversation we had was with another man who smelled of beer, but did not seem nearly as effected by alcohol as the first two men. We had a good conversation with this man, who said that he had been thinking of his need to go to church for the last two days. After I spoke with the man some about sin, Brian was able to speak with him extensively about the Gospel. As Brian began trying to press the need for the man to repent and place his faith in Jesus, the man said that he just wanted to go inside to think over what he had heard. Though we told the man that, "Today is the day of salvation," we also did not want to press him into making a false profession of faith, so when he again mentioned that he wanted more time to soak it all in, we thanked him for his time and left. Though he said he would be at church on Sunday, he did not come.
In this post, I have not given the names of the men with which we spoke, as- due to their (at least partial) drunkenness- mention of their names might be particularly embarrassing to them. However, I ask Christians reading this post to pray for these men, as God knows their names and their great need for salvation through Jesus Christ.