Sunday, September 02, 2007

Five Points Friday

Last night I was sitting in the mall, waiting for my family to finish their shopping (I love going to the mall, or any store for that matter—not that I love shopping, but because I get to do some evangelism!) and this clerk came out of the GNC (General Nutrition Center) eating a box of Fruit Loops, just turning the box up on end and letting the cereal fill his mouth. He caught me looking at him and retreated back into the store. I had to laugh. This really has nothing to do with anything, but it was so funny!

20 students (ok, 19 plus me) gathered in Memorial Dorm on Friday night for training, prayer and worship before hitting the streets of Five Points. I did a short presentation on Hell’s Best Kept Secret (the DVD player and big-screen TV were conspicuously missing) and explained the importance of using the Ten Commandments in evangelism (Ps. 19:7; Gal 3:24; Ro. 3:19, to name a few). Nick and I did a short role-play to show how it works. Great stuff! Our prayer time was a sacred time of conversing with the Father, and many students really poured their hearts out, being very transparent about their love for God and desire to obey Him in carrying out the Great Commission.

Two significant contributions to the evening were two violinists who not only accompanied in worship, but also the contribution of bottled water to distribute to any who would have it, as an opportunity to share the love of Christ, these were great additions. When we got to Five Points, the violinists set up at the Fountain, where rhythmic strains of melodious refrains brought a refreshing stream of curious peace to the growing hubbub of the night. Not long after getting set up, I noticed a couple of passers-by trying out their Riverdance on the street corner.
I took two students with me and did not get too far down the street when I saw three large guys coming our direction. One could not help but notice the bling around the middle guys’ neck, a Jesus-looking bust. I stopped them and commented on the spark, asking him if he was a religious person, to which he replied in the affirmative. I asked, “out of the three of you, which would you say was the best among you, the ‘do-gooder?’” They laughed and two stepped back, leaving the “do-gooder” in a prominent position on the sidewalk.

“Ok,” I continued, “which one of you two guys is the ‘baddest?’” The “do-gooder” pointed out one of the other guys, and they we all laughed, I thanking them for their honesty.

“Let’s try something,” I said, “lets try a little test, the same standard for all three of you, to see if you are right. Have you kept the Ten Commandments?”

All three said the loud, embarrassing, “Oh!” and rolled their heads back, knowing they were busted. We laughed with them in embarrassment.

I asked if they’d ever lied, stolen or blasphemed, to which they admitted two out of the three. I asked if they’d ever committed adultery, to which one spoke for all, saying, “we’re not married.” I noted how when I ask this question, especially in Five Points, the guys do not try to hide the fact they are out to satisfy lust. One of the three typically found a girl within eyesight and committed the lingering look, even while we spoke. But one guy would not take his eyes off me. He seemed mesmerized.

They freely admitted how God saw their hearts, and admitted their sin, impending judgment and need to repent. I had the undivided attention of the one. I asked if they knew what repentance was, to which they replied, “Get baptized, go to church.” How they needed to be born again! I explained to them the need for reconciliation to God through the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ, and their need to admit how God saw their heart, turn from sin and put their faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, to live on obedience to Him. One guy started fidgeting, another took a step back and the one guy gave me all his attention. I pressed the need for repentance, gave them a Good Person test tract and told them to think about what I said and act as quickly as possible—don’t put this off. We shook hands and parted ways.
Not long after this, we came across three other young men standing between a bar and Starbucks. We approached (it must seem weird with this old guy and two college students walking up to people) and I asked, “Hey what would you guys do for a Million Dollars?” holding out a Million Dollar tract to them. We got into a lively conversation about what one would do, and what would be over the top. I asked, “Would you sell one of your eyes for a Million?”

Surprisingly, one said, “Sure!” His friends looked at him, incredulous. I asked, “Would you sell both for two Million?” He actually had to think about it for a while. He declined the offer and I had to know why. He could not go through life with all that money not being able to see, relying on his other senses. I think his friends were ready to berate him if he said something else.

We launched into the “Good Person” test and the eye-seller vacillated on whether or not he was a liar. I pointed out that everyone is a liar and lying is not something one learns—it is part of our sin-nature. Babies don’t learn to fake cry to get what they want. No argument there. The three admitted that God saw them as coveting, lying, thieving, adulterers at heart and one fellow loudly exclaimed, “I can’t believe this! I’ve never seen myself this way!” He was astounded, and knew he was in trouble with God. I talked about sin, their need for righteousness and to miss the judgment to come. I asked if they knew what repentance was and, to my surprise, gave the same answer as the other three guys we just talked to! We discovered they were students at a local college that has mandatory chapel, but is apparently unclear with the gospel—and this caused these three students great consternation. When they asked about asking forgiveness and “getting off,” I showed them a Bible verse that I will discuss in a later blog. I pressed the need for repentance, encouraging them to wrestle with God in prayer and be truly converted. They promised to read their Bible and we parted ways in good spirits.

Making our way down the street, my partners were starting to feel at ease, and one of them said she wanted to try using a survey Nick had put together. We found a bored bouncer sitting outside a bar and she talked with the man for nearly 45 minutes while me and the other student distributed tracts to passers-by. She had a good, thought-provoking, soul-probing conversation with the bouncer and he was very appreciative for the exercise. I pray we see him again. This was very encouraging, so we pressed on down the street.

We walked down a couple of blocks and circled back again, crossing paths with other students we were with in the larger group, encouraging one another as already many were getting tired. Stopping at another corner, about 10:30, the crowds were finally starting to show up and masses of people were on the sidewalk. My team-mates found another couple of girls to talk to, so I stayed within earshot as they spent some time in good conversation, pointing out the need for repentance and the Lord Jesus Christ.

While waiting, another trio (two guys and a girl) crossed the street to where I was standing. One fellow was wearing a black tee-shirt with “Got Jesus?” across the front. I stopped them to engage in conversation, when not even two entire sentences into it, the girl let loose the fowlest language. I arrested her attention, saying, “please watch your language, there are women present.” Her mouth dropped open and she stared at me, trying to move away. She clearly did not know what to do with herself. I turned to the “Got Jesus?” guy and said, “let me ask you a question—would you consider yourself to be good person?” I took all three through the Good Person test, and the closer I got to talking about Jesus, the angrier the tee-shirt guy got. I said, “I’m curious, why are you wearing that shirt?”

“I just want to know if everybody else got’s Jesus,” he said in a very nasty tone. I asked if he’d kept the third commandment, to which I heard another explicative. He made it clear to me that I had just now totally torqued him off, and he was leaving, so he disappeared down the sidewalk, friends in tow.

We made our way back to the Fountain where other teams were coming and going, engaging people in conversation. My team took up another conversation with a fellow who had some very good, serious questions (he was very much out of place with this party crowd) and spent the rest of the evening with him. As they were talking, I saw two girls sitting on the wall near the street. Now, I don’t like to talk to girls alone, but I was compelled to go talk to them—after all, we were on the street, people were everywhere, my team was just a few yards to my left.
I pulled out this tract that looks like a newspaper with headlines like, “Man Cuts Up Raped Wife,” and “Fat Guy Found Dead in Bathroom” and my personal favorite, “Woman’s Body Devoured by Dogs.” I asked them what they thought of these articles (we scanned them briefly) and they were grossed out. I then told them these were actual stories that came out of the “Good Book.” Then asked if they knew what the “Good Book” was. They knew it was the Bible, but could not seem to put the pieces together. I then asked, “why is the Bible called ‘The Good Book,’ but is full of stories about killing, rape, cannibalism, war, incest, beheadings, etc.?” They were stunned and literally sat with their mouths hanging open. I let them off the hook, teaching them that the Bible is an accurate record of how God sees the heart, we are not as good as we think we are.

I took them through the Good Person test and showed there was no difference between the way we really are and those who live around us. I began to talk about the substitutionary death of Christ and the need to repent, when this guy came from out of nowhere and sat right down beside the girls, interrupting me by telling me what he thought about these girls. I knew right away this was a spiritual attack and at the most crucial moment, these girls had to know the expediency of their action—the rest of eternity depended on what they did with Jesus. The guy kept trying to interrupt, and if he was not talking, cell phones began ringing. One girl kept her eyes on me. The guy leans over to her and says, “Come with me.” She looks at him, looks at me, looks at him, looks at me—an obvious sign of struggle. I pressed the urgency to repent and follow Jesus.

He started to bring up things that had nothing to do with the price of tea in China and was more slippery than a catfish with a cold on a warm summer day. He smiled and retorted, smiled and cavorted, smiled and blasphemed. I pressed even harder, perhaps should have prayed that the Lord rebuke him . . .

They got up and left with the man. All I could do was shut my eyes, hang my head and pray they had a restless night, that their consciences would nag them, the Lord keep them safe and save their souls. I felt gut-punched and wanted to get up on the wall and begin open-air preaching out of desperation for the lost—everyone passing me by was going to hell . . . all I could do was pray. I was finished for the night.

About midnight we made our way back for debriefing and dragged ourselves back home, praising the Lord for what He had done. One guy on drugs approached another team and asked, “Are you guys Christians?” When they asked why he wanted to know, he said, “Because you guys are always in two’s.” Interesting!

Someone else reported reaping a harvest of one repentant soul, while others shared experiences of meeting freshmen who were trying out the party scene, after leaving home and church for the first time in their lives. We praise God He was there to meet them and convict their hearts.

Can’t wait for next week! Pray up!

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