Saturday, January 27, 2007

Local Wal-Mart Welcomes On-Camera Witnessing!

I was watching the morning news, the other day. After a commercial break, one of the anchors interviewed a young actor by the name of Corbin Bleu. I confess that I had no idea who this young man was prior to watching the interview. And, for those of you who are like me and are unaware of this young man’s fame and popularity, he starred in the Disney made-for-television movie, “High School Musical.” He is the latest heartthrob among the early teen and pre-teen segment of our star-struck populace.

What drew my attention to the interview was the mention of the fact that Corbin Bleu was scheduled to appear at one of my local Wal-Marts, later in the day, to sign his new book. I immediately thought of the potential evangelism opportunity. There would likely be long lines of kids and their parents waiting to make eye contact with a star. As I thought of the potential, I also reminded myself that Wal-Mart has not always been friendly to Christian evangelism endeavors.

Not long ago, Mark Spence, of Way of the Master, gave me one of the ministry’s video cameras to use to document some of my evangelism conversations—on the streets and during my segments on Way of the Master Radio. As the sometimes slow and grinding wheels spun in my head, I thought it might be an interesting afternoon if Wal-Mart would allow me to do some on-camera interviews of people waiting in line for the book signing. My expectations were not very high. I lacked faith.

I made a phone call to Pastor Kevin Molloy, the youth pastor at Lake Hills Community Church. Earlier in the week I met with the elders at Lake Hills to discuss plans for bringing a one-day Way of the Master training class to the church, on February 17. When Pastor Molloy answered the phone, I explained my idea to him and invited him to join me. He said he was already planning to go with his children.

Pastor Molloy told me that one of the members of the church was a manager at the Wal-Mart. He gave me her phone number, and I gave her a call. The manager was familiar with Way of the Master. To my surprise, she gave me permission to bring a video camera into the store and record conversations with people waiting in line.

The team consisted of my daughter, Michelle; my brother-in-law, Ian, one of my fellow local GNN leaders, Dru Morgan; and me. There were only a few people in line when we got to the store. That would quickly change.

I purchased a copy of Corbin Bleu’s book, which had a subtitle of “High School Musical Hottie.” The book was more akin to a thicker version of a teen magazine, then your typical biographical book. It was obviously marketed toward a younger audience.

As Ian and I flipped through copies of the book, Ian was first to notice that Corbin’s spiritual beliefs are mentioned in the book. I thought this would serve as a perfect icebreaker when asking people if they would like to be on camera. The approach I would later use was this. “Hi. I’m with a television and radio show called Way of the Master. We heard that Corbin Bleu would be here today signing his book. Corbin mentions his spiritual beliefs in the book. So, we thought it would be interesting to talk to people about their spiritual beliefs—what they think of the afterlife.”

Before I share the details of two of the more interesting conversations I had with people in line, here’s how Corbin Bleu describes his spiritual beliefs in his book.

“Strong family values, true friendships, and all the other amazing gifts that been given to Corbin wouldn’t be possible without a deep spiritual life as well. Corbin’s very passionate about his faith. ‘I pray. I think that’s what has kept me going all these years when it comes to overcoming obstacles. When I get very nervous or self-conscious or stressed, or I’m feeling burned out, what keeps me going is feeling that He has His plan for everybody. I can’t control it, or fight it. Once you learn to accept that He has a plan, it helps you, because even if you’re going through problems, you just know that everything happens for a reason. Kids go through a lot of rough periods, and I wouldn’t think of trying to force my own personal beliefs on others, but if I can lead by example, by being respectful to everybody no matter what…that feels good . . .

‘We’re Christians. We respect everyone; whether we agree with certain lifestyles or not, it’s never something we shut down. Even the Bible says you’re not a judge of others. God’s the judge. Your job is to show people the power of Christ through love and show them what an incredible life you can lead and the happiness you can have when you have the comfort of knowing that there’s somebody there. Anytime you feel alone, God’s always there. He will never abandon you—ever’” (Scott, Dee. Corbin Bleu, Up Close, New York: Pocket Books, 2006, p. 88).

Since I do not know Corbin Bleu, I cannot speak about the genuineness of his faith. But I can express my disappointment in the “life enhancement” gospel presented in his book. It shouldn’t surprise me, however. After all, the young man is a Disney star and a secular publishing house published his book.

The first person who agreed to be interviewed on camera was a lady named Barbara. It turns out that Barbara is the stepmother of a sergeant on my department. Having worked with him for a number of years, I believe he professes to be Roman Catholic. I share that because Barbara is Mormon.

Because of her Mormon beliefs, Barbara asserted that when she dies she would go to heaven to await the resurrection. She said that in order for a person to go to heaven they should try to live a good life, do good to others, be honest, and believe in Jesus Christ. I asked Barbara if she considered herself to be a good person. She said, “I try to be a good person.”

I asked her if she was familiar with the Ten Commandments. She said that she was. When I asked her if she could name a few, she said, “Oh, ….. (blasphemy).”

I asked her if she had been able to keep the commandments. She said, “I’ve broken a few; but if you repent you will be forgiven.

I took her through a few of the commandments. She admitted to being a liar and a thief. Then I asked her if she had ever taken God’s name in vain. She said, “I’m sure I have.”

“In fact, you did just a moment ago.” I remarked.

I did?” She asked. “What did I say?”

“I can’t repeat it.” I told her.

When I asked Barbara if God would find her innocent or guilty of breaking His Law and the Day of Judgment, she said, “Well, only one man was perfect and that was Jesus. All we have to do is ask for forgiveness, and be born again in the afterlife.”

Barbara’s Mormon theology was beginning to show itself. The reference to Jesus Christ as a “man” was one indicator. Yes, Jesus Christ was fully man. Upon that point Christians and Mormons believe. But contrary to the Christian faith and what the Bible teaches, Mormons believe that Jesus was only a man, a created being who was conceived through a literal, physical union between their god and Mary. The Mormon concept of being “born again” is also contrary to what the Bible teaches.

Barbara was insistent that all one must do is repent to avoid God’s judgment. Her idea of repentance seemed to be more akin to confession than turning from sin.

I asked Barbara if she had ever been to court. She said that she had been to court as she went through the divorce process. She also served on the jury of a man on trial for a firearms violation.

“Did you find the man guilty?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Well, he was guilty because of the way the judge explained the law.” She answered.

I asked her if after she and the rest of the jury found the man guilty of breaking the law, would the judge be a good judge following the law if he let them man go because the man said he was sorry. While she agreed that the judge would not be a good judge, she argued that man’s standard and God’s standard are not the same. However, I was able to get her to agree that God’ standard is much higher than the standard in a human courtroom.

We continued to talk about God’s righteous judgment. At the first mention of hell, Barbara was quick to tell me that Mormons don’t believe in hell. She affirmed the Mormon false doctrine of three levels of heaven (telestial, terrestrial, and celestial). She told me that to get to the highest level of heaven (celestial), a person has to be “really, really good.”

I asked Barbara if it was possible for a person to be really, really good. She said, “Yes.”

“So, are we good because we ask for forgiveness?” I asked.

There was a long pause. “I don’t think it makes you good or bad.” She said. “It just makes you aware of what you need to repent.”

Then I threw this at her. “Where do you think Hitler went?” I asked. She leaned back and chuckled nervously.

“Well, first of all it does say in the Bible that if you commit murder you will not go to heaven.” She said.

Yes, the Bible affirms that no murderer will enter the kingdom of heaven. But that’s not what Barbara was saying. She was insisting that committing murder is an unpardonable sin. The Bible does not teach that. I could have argued the point, but she had just revealed a chink in her theological armor. She believed that murderers would not go to heaven. So, I would bide my time, hear her out, and then use her own words against her.

Barbara continued. “That’s the ultimate sin, because you can’t ask the person that you killed for forgiveness. To be forgiven you have to ask forgiveness from the person that you committed the act against. It says in the Bible that you cannot be forgiven for an act of murder.”

“If there is no hell, where did Hitler go?” I asked.

Barbara thought for a moment about the question. “There is what’s called an ‘outer darkness.’ It’s not a burning hell, brimstone-kinda-thing. It is where you will live without God, Jesus, or his angels. You will be with Satan and all of his followers.” She said.

Did you notice how Barbara made a distinction between God and Jesus? This was yet another assertion the Mormon theological position that Jesus is not God.

“When the Bible talks about a lake of fire. When the Scriptures say that all liars will have their part in the lake of fire; if it’s not a literal fire in hell, where is it?” I asked.

“It’s a separation from God, Jesus, and everything holy.” Barbara said. “That lake of fire would be that place of outer darkness for people who are really bad—the ones that commit sins against God, like devil worshippers and people of that sort—the murderers.”

“Have you ever been really angry with someone?” I asked.

“Yes, but not to the extent that I wanted to harm the person.” She answered.

“Have you ever experienced a little road rage, or called anyone names like ‘moron’ or idiot’?” I asked.

“Yes.” She said.

“Did you know the Bible says that whoever hates another person is a murderer at heart?” I asked.

“It does?” She asked.

“First John 3:15 says that whoever hates his brother is a murderer.” I said.

“John 3:15?” She asked.

“No.” I said. “First John 3:15.”

Many Christian avoid talking to people of the Mormon or Jehovah’s Witnesses faiths because they assume that the person is well versed in their religion. But Barbara, a very nice lady, dispelled that myth. She had no idea about what the Bible really says about murder.

Barbara began to try to justify herself. She wanted to prove to me (and probably more so to herself) that she was not a murderer at heart. “But I didn’t take the person’s life, and I didn’t say it to their face.” She said.

“Do you think God judges only our actions?” I asked. “Or do you think He also judges our thoughts and intentions?”

“Oh, yes. He sees it all.” She said. “You don’t have to say a thing.”

Barbara and I briefly continued our conversation off-camera. She was never truly humbled by the Law, so I didn’t talk to her about grace.

Some may look at my conversation as an example of a failed attempt at evangelism. It wasn’t. Seeds were sown. Barbara did not come to repentance and faith in the real Jesus Christ. However, whether she wanted to admit it out loud, she realized she wasn’t a good person. She was caught committing blasphemy, and had to look at herself in the mirror of God’s Law. She was shown that her understanding of the relationship between God’s justice and God’s forgiveness was flawed. Barbara also had to face the fact that her assertion that all murderers are punished placed her in the category of the murderer.

Before we moved on to find others to interview, I gave Barbara a copy of “How To Live Forever Without Being Religious” and “You Have The Right To Remain Silent.” Pray with me that she will read the material. Pray that the Lord will use the interview in Wal-Mart and the material she received to draw her to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ—the real Jesus Christ.

The next story will be my conversation with a young lady named Karey—a false convert who was humbled by the Law.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

wow...thats a really good way to evangalize. also..i didnt know corbin bleu was a christian so thanks for this