Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cops & Robbers (Behind the Scenes of WOTMR -- 07-24-07)

WOW! Or as my friend, Todd Friel, would say, "YOUZA!" The Lord truly blessed the "street fishing" segments during today's edition of The Way of the Master Radio.

My brother-in-law (actually he is every bit a brother to me), Ian, and I went fishing at the Santa Clarita Superior Courthouse. Oh, the memories I have of testifying in criminal cases, in this courthouse. I shared one of the more memorable stories during the second hour of the show.

Ian and I arrived at the courthouse, about twenty minutes before the first time scheduled for the "street fishing" segment. My attention was immediately drawn to two young people sitting on a bench, just outside the courthouse. Ian and I walked toward the library, a good 50 yards away from the young couple. The girl never took her eyes off of me. As photos on this blog and elsewhere clearly indicate, it was not my good looks that drew the young lady's attention.

She "made" me. And I her. What do I mean? She immediately identified me as law enforcement. She even waved at me, as if to say, "I know you're a cop." And, just by the way she looked at me, and the sarcasm in her wave, I identified her as someone who was or had been on the wrong side of the law.

Whether or not she would agree to be on the show, I had no way of knowing. But I knew I had to ask her--if for no other reason than to let her know that, for the moment, there was a truce between cop and robber.

Ian and I walked up to the young lady. Before I could get a word out of my mouth, she asked, "Are you a cop?"

"Well, I was for twenty years." I answered.

"I knew it. I don't like cops. In fact, I was talking a lot of smack about you before you walked up."

I extended my hand toward her and said, "Hi. My name is Tony, and this is my friend, Ian."

"My name is Jackie." She said, taking my hand and shaking it.

Two people who couldn't be more different from one another, from more different backgrounds, with more reason to loathe one another, were about to engage in an eternally important conversation. Two sinners--one born again, the other not--a cop and a robber--were about to have a civil conversation about the Law and the Gospel.

Jackie described herself as a "former porn star, turned career criminal." She said she was a gun dealer who had spent more time in jail than she cared to remember. She said she had been convicted of robbery and other crimes. She also bragged about just beating a gun charge that would have landed her in state prison for no less than thirteen years. She also bragged about being an entrepreneur--a "business woman." Yet she was wearing what looked like pajama bottoms, the bottoms of which were filthy and torn from excessive wear. Beneath the tattered hem of her pajama bottoms were simple beach sandals. Jackie was only twenty.

"I'm at the courthouse today doing a radio show." I told her. "The show is called The Way of the Master. The show airs live, Monday through Friday. During the show, we do a couple of segments in which we interview people on the streets. We ask people two somewhat provocative questions. 'Would you consider yourself to be a good person?'" And, 'What do you think happens to someone when they die?' You can say what you want and believe what you want. All we ask is that you don't swear, because it's live radio."

Jackie agreed to be on the show and to watch her language. Her mouth was that of a fifty-year-old salty sailor, not a twenty-year-old young lady.

I called the station and talked to Todd during the commercial break. I prepped him for what I believed would be a most interesting conversation. I also assured him that I asked Jackie multiple times to watch her language. Listen to Todd and Jackie's conversation.

Once Jackie was off the phone, I conducted a follow-up interview with her. One school of thought is that you never share grace with a person until they are visibly convicted by the Law. Well, Jackie did not appear to be very convicted. So we spent some time talking about the Law and judgment. As I talked to Jackie, I noticed a change in the inflection and tone of her voice. Ian noticed it, too. It was softening.

Although Jackie never indicated verbally that she was wrestling with her conscience, the more I talked to her, the more it seemed that the street-hardened criminal bravado was just a facade. And, every once in a while, she would say a couple of words that indicated to me that she--albeit doing evil, breaking the law, and completely and singularly responsible for her sin--was badly hurt at an early age. The victim was now the suspect.

Another school of thought, as it pertains to when we should share grace with an unbeliever, is this. When in doubt, when you are not sure if the person standing or sitting in front of you has been humbled by the Law, share the gospel. The reason being is that no matter how good we might be at "reading" people, we cannot know the exact condition of their heart. This isn't psycho-babble. It's simply trying to discern human behavior, which, for every person is, at it's very core, sinfully wicked.

I believed that somewhere inside of Jackie was a conscience that was being pricked, if even in a small way. Beneath the very tough exterior was a young woman in desperate need of help and care. She was very familiar with the law. And regardless of what she said or how she said it, I believed she knew she was guilty. I believed the thought of hell scared her, even though she insisted that it didn't. Why didn't it scare her? She claimed that since she was so good at evil in this life, she didn't fear a continuation of evil or suffering in the next life.

Since I couldn't be certain what impact the Law had on Jackie, I chose to share the gospel with her. I took her into the courtroom. Listen to our conversation.

As we said our good-byes, I gave Jackie a copy of How To Live Forever Without Being Religious and You Have The Right To Remain Silent (a tract that is very apropos outside a courthouse). She thanked me for the material and the conversation. She even shared the book and tract with her friend. An hour later, Jackie would walk by and say good-bye. She still had the book and tract in her hand.

Please pray for Jackie. Pray that the Lord will draw her to Himself, that she will be born again, and that she will repent and put her faith in Jesus Christ alone for her salvation.

As Ian and I walked around, trying to find a guest for the second hour of the show, I couldn't help but think of something I believe to be very important--especially to those who struggle with one-to-one evangelism. Again, Jackie and I could not have been more different from each other. Jackie loathed law enforcement, and I spent twenty years of my life trying to put people like Jackie in jail. Admittedly, I have no particular fondness of the criminal element in our society.

But Jackie is lost and bound for hell, whether she believes it or not. And, according to God's Word, I am to love my enemies. And the most loving thing I can do for my enemy is share the Law and the Gospel with them. If Tony "the cop" and Jackie "the robber" can have a civil (even friendly) conversation about the Law and the Gospel, can't you speak to your friends, family, neighbors, or the seemingly nice stranger on the street? Of course you can! If you're not sharing the Law and the Gospel with people, it's not because you can't. It's because you won't. And if you won't share the Law and the Gospel with people, can you honestly say before God and before your fellow Christians that you love the lost?

The second-hour "street fishing" segment couldn't have been more different that the first-hour segment. Carlos was our guest during the second hour of the show. Carlos was at the library with his twelve-year-old daughter, Alexi. They were just out enjoying the afternoon together. Carlos works in the janitorial services industry and he likes to collect books and write in his journals.

Like Jackie, Carlos considered himself to be a good person. Like Jackie, Carlos believed that when you die, that's all there is. He didn't believe in an afterlife. Unlike Jackie, who considered God to be "an idea," Carlos believed that God exists.

Unlike Jackie, Carlos seemed to have little to say during his conversation with Todd. It seemed as though he was listening intently and thinking deeply. At one point, while Todd was taking Carlos through the Law, he motioned to his daughter to go into the library. She declined, seeing her dad's hand gesture as a suggestion, not a command. It was as if the conversation was getting so personal that he didn't want his daughter to hear. Was Carlos' conscience at work? Listen to Todd's conversation with Carlos.

Carlos and I talked for a few minutes, after he got off the phone with Todd. Carlos was quick to admit that Todd had him thinking about heaven and hell, sin and judgment. He admitted that while he thought he was a good person before the conversation began, he realized that he had broken God's Law.

I reaffirmed the Gospel with Carlos. I asked him if there was any reason why he would not repent of his sin and receive Jesus Christ as His Lord and Savior, right now. Click here to hear Carlos' answer.

What a wonderful day of fishing. As I told Todd, I don't deserve the gift I have received--the gift of being part of the WOTMR team. It is so very humbling to be allowed to serve Christ in this way. More humbling still is being allowed to watch God work, as seeds are sown and nets are cast. All for His glory!


terriergal said...

Thank the Lord that you and so many others are out doing what you do.

That chat with Jackie really had a lump in my throat.

BTW you *look* like a cop. No surprise there! :-)

northWord said...

Listening yesterday to this witness encounter brought a well of tears to my eyes, and seeing her face today was just as piercing, my goodness she's just a baby, really, and seems to have lived a whole life..and to think; she's one of multitudes with like-stories..it is just so heartbreaking..indeed the fields are white.

I've been listening (intently!) to WOTM radio for over a year, I truly appreciate all of you.
Thank you.

May God continue to bless this ministry with such rich encounters.
Thank you, Tony, for your service to your fellow man, and to Him.

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work, brother. I'm following your ministry and I'm greatful for your influence and encouragment in my work for the Lord. Praying for you and those you witness too.


WhatIsChazaq? said...

Another commenter said "Thank the Lord that you and so many others are out doing what you do."

Every single person that claims the name of Christ should be "out doing what Christ did"

Just do it.

Learn it, train for it and PRACTICE it on the lost.

Chebs said...

Tony, I love your ministry. I follow it every time you're on WOTMR. I pray that Jackie and Jesus truly meet ASAP! What a poor lost soul.

Jeff Sandberg

Mark said...

This is awsome. I'm glad I found your blog. I've been looking for the blogs.