Tuesday, November 13, 2007

From Train Wreck To Testimony

Today began like a train wreck. (How's that for a wonderful start to a blog article?)

Two of my three daughters weren't feeling well this morning. A dear lady from church was in the hospital with a very serious medical condition. I was feeling tired and out of sorts. I was not myself (or, maybe on some level, I was myself). I was somewhat whiny in my spirit.

I arrived at College of the Canyons at about 10:00 AM. My plan was to do as much evangelism as I could before my scheduled "street fishing" segments on The Way of the Master Radio. So I "plopped" down in the amphitheater and surveyed "the pond." There were people everywhere, and I really didn't feel like talking to any of them. Part of me was afraid to talk to them. (That's right. You heard me. The "Lawman" was battling fear of man. What? You thought it only happened to you?) Oh, and I wasn't in the mood to be rejected by people half my age.

So, I prayed. But even my prayers seemed shallow and hollow.

I sat there, sulking, for several minutes--wallowing in my sinful self-pity. I almost went home. But I knew I couldn't do that. Leaving would be wrong. My attitude was wrong. I just had to repent and, by God's grace and the power of the Holy Spirit, had to overcome the sins of fear, complaining, and self-pity.

I finally pulled my sinful backside off the concrete amphitheater seat and walked over to the first person I saw. I told him that I was with Way of the Master Radio, and I asked him if I could interview him about his spiritual beliefs. "No." was the answer. "I'm not interested."

Did I mention that I didn't feel like being rejected by people half my age?

"All right. Shake it off. Go ask someone else." I thought. And that's what I did.

"No thanks, man." (Did he really just call me "man?") "I'm not interested."

So, I walked across the campus, sizing up the potential "fish" as I made my way through the cement pond. After my first two attempts to engage people in conversation, no one looked good to me. I managed to come up with an excuse for not talking to each person I saw. I handed out a few Million Dollar Bill gospel tracts along the way, but that was it.

I sat down on a bench. I did the manly, mature, and super-spiritual thing. I sat with my elbows on my knees and my chin in my hands.....and I pouted. "Great! It's going to be two lousy days of fishing in a row." I sulked. I tried to do a little fishing yesterday, but the fish weren't biting at all.
So, I prayed. I begged God to turn the day around.

I handed out a few more tracts to people who passed by. I didn't even get off the bench to do it. I just waited for people to come within arms reach before I offered them a tract. Pretty lame, huh?

I share these things not to get a few "aw, there, there" strokes from you, the readers. Rather, I share these things because I would hazard a guess that some of you have had days like this, too.

What happened next would change what I thought was going to be a terrible day to one of the best "fishing" experiences ever. Although the day started with no fish and several holes in the boat, the Lord was about to patch the boat, into which the fish were about to jump.

Three students (two young ladies and a young man) walked past me. As they did, they all looked at the empty portion of the bench as if they were contemplating sitting down. "I don't bite." I said.

One of the young ladies affirmed what I said, but they continued on to another nearby bench. Moments later, they got up, walked back to where I was sitting, and joined me on the bench.

"Hi. How are the three of you doing today?" I asked.

"Good." They answered in unison.

"I'm with a radio station called The Way of the Master. I'm on campus today conducting interviews. I'm asking two questions. 'Do you consider yourself to be a good person?' And, 'What do you think happens to a person when they die?' Can I interview the three of you?"

"No." They each replied.


I sat quietly for a moment or two.

"So, what do you think happens to a person when they die?" I asked the young man.

"I think we will all stand before God and He will judge what we've done and where we should go."

"Do you believe in heaven and hell?"


"What do you think a person has to do to go to heaven?"

"I guess obey the Ten Commandments. Be a good person."

"Have you been able to keep the commandments?"

He shook his head. The two young ladies with us on the bench were listening closely.

"Would you consider yourself to be a good person?"

"I think so."

The young man admitted to being a lying, thieving, blasphemer at heart. But he minimized and justified his sin. However, there didn't seem to be too much conviction behind his self-defense.

Once we started talking about sin and judgment, one of the young ladies grew increasingly uncomfortable. She made a call on her cell phone and soon quietly walked away without even saying good-bye to her friends. But Otto and Stephanie stayed.

It didn't take long to overcome Otto's self-righteousness and self-justification. Once I felt the time was right, I shared the gospel with Otto and Stephanie.

"Otto, you probably weren't expecting to have a conversation like this, today. Were you?"

"Not at all." He said with a slight chuckle. "But I'm glad I did."

I thanked Otto and Stephanie for allowing me to talk to them. I gave them each a million dollars for their time and patience. :-)

While Otto and Stephanie's salvation is of the utmost importance and the reason for my conversation with them, those two young college students will likely never have any idea how much the conversation with them meant to me. That is, unless I am one-day blessed to see them in heaven.

Otto and Stephanie got up, said good-bye, shook my hand, and headed to their next class. I watched them walk away for several moments, utterly amazed at God's grace and mercy--not only by allowing Otto and Stephanie to hear the Law and the Gospel, but also the grace and mercy He showed me by allowing me to talk to them.

I threw my hands in the air and praised God. With outstretched arms I prayed for Otto and Stephanie. It was a minute or two before I realized that I wasn't alone in a prayer closet; but on a bustling community college campus. Oh, well. I didn't care how I looked. But I did lower my hands and continued to pray, asking God to allow me to talk to someone else.

"Amen." As I looked up, I saw two Asian students walking toward me. They were not simply walking in my direction. They were coming to talk to me.

The young lady was carrying a clipboard, which was holding some paper. The young man was obviously escorting her. The two sat down beside me.

I think I'm starting to like this bench!

"Will you take a survey I am doing for a class?" She asked, politely.

"Absolutely!" I answered, enthusiastically. "When you're done with your survey, will you take mine?"

"You have a survey, too?"

"I sure do!"


"I could tell the young lady was nervous. She had not yet mastered the English language. She seemed very shy.

"The topic of the survey is censorship. Do you think there should be censorship?"

"Well, it depends. I don't think the question warrants a simple 'yes or no' answer."

"What do you think should be censored?"

"Anything that dishonors God."

"Umm. Excuse me. Dishonor God?"

"Yes. Anything that that dishonors God, anything that violates His Word and His Law should be censored."

"Umm. Okay. Where do you think censorship should begin?"

"It should begin with blasphemy."


"Yes. Any misuse of God's name should be censored."

The young man (his name was Joe) smiled. "I am a Christian. I love Jesus." He announced.

"What is your name?"

"My name is Wendy."

"Wendy, can I ask you some questions now?"

"Okay." She seemed even more nervous.

"Wendy, would you consider yourself to be a good person?"

I took Wendy through the Law and explained judgment to her; but first I had to explain to her what the Ten Commandments were. Wendy admitted to breaking God's Law. She understood that she would be guilty before God. When I asked her if she would go to heaven or hell, she said, "I guess hell. But we don't believe that in my religion."

Wendy was from Taiwan. Although she never identified her religion, I assumed she was Buddhist. I talked to Wendy about the difference between belief and truth. And then I shared the gospel with her. Joe continued to smile.

"Wendy, have you ever heard the gospel explained that way?"


"Joe, you said you are a Christian."

"Yes. I became a Christian five months ago."

Joe is an exchange student from Korea. He will return to his country at the end of the school year.

"Wendy, has Joe ever shared his faith with you."

"Oh, yes. Many times, in class."

Joe extended his hand to me--the smile on his face, ever present. "I am very glad I met you today."

"Oh, it was a pleasure to meet and talk to the two of you, too!"

I asked Wendy to carefully consider what I told her and what she has heard from Joe. She said she would.

The two got up from the bench (now, my favorite bench on the campus) and walked away.

Once again I found myself praising and glorifying God--thanking Him for allowing me to talk to Wendy and Joe. I thanked God for Joe's enthusiastic faith. And I prayed for Otto's, Stephanie's, and Wendy's salvation.

What began as a train wreck ended in a wonderful testimony to God's grace, goodness, patience, kindness, faithfulness, and love--not only for those who heard the Law and the Gospel this morning, but for a wretch like me. I entered the college campus a pitiful lump of dirty clay--in no condition to be of any use to the Potter. But the Potter, in His sovereign grace and mercy, chose to fashion me into a vessel He could use to bring the Law and the Gospel to three young co-eds, and Christian encouragement to a fourth.

How this all happened this morning shows that the clay is in no position to take any credit for what the Potter does with the clay. The clay cannot fashion itself into anything of value or usefulness. The clay is fashioned by the Potter's hands, according to His good pleasure, will, and design.

So, to God, and to God alone, be all the praise, honor, and glory for a train wreck turned testimony.

Join me in praying for the salvation of these young people. I do hope to see them in heaven one-day.

And this all took place before today's edition of The Way of the Master Radio. Stay tuned..... :-)

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