Recently, I had the privilege of going to Kutztown University to minister to the students there. Kutztown is about two hours away from where I live. I joined my friend Mark Johnson, and another minister, Eric.
Kutztown is beautiful University. That, combined with the fact that it was a beautiful spring day, made the university that much more glorious. The students were all out walking around, some sitting in the grass, some throwing the softball around. We set up in a grassy area near the dining hall–which was packed with students. We were an unavoidable sight to the students going in and out of the lunch room.
When we began to set up, we got some sneers and some dirty looks, and a young man felt the need to yell out at the top of his lungs, “don’t listen to these men! Just keep on moving!”
One of my friends was the first to preach. He broke the ice. I stood a few feet away holding the heaven test sign. I immediately got the impression that the students didn’t much want us to be there. I was little apprehensive about handing out tracts or talking to anybody at first so I just prayed for a while. Then, after unsuccessfully trying to hand out a few tracts, I noticed two young men sitting on the stairs in close proximity to where we were. I felt like I should talk to them, but I was afraid, so I kept praying for a while. Finally, I just said “Forget it, I’m going to do it.” I thought to myself, “What’s the worst that could happen?”
I walked up to the boys. One was a skinny white kid wearing dark aviator sunglasses. The other was a a black boy, young looking, but with a beard, and the build of an average football player. I look at them both and I said something along the lines of, “do you guys know if you will go to heaven when you die?”
The white kid was immediately rude. He said, “I don’t want to talk to you.” I said, “Why? you don’t even know me.” He said, “I don’t like what you guys are doing. You give people a bad first impression of Christ.” I was a bit shocked. I asked, “Are you a Christian??” He said, “Yes, and I don’t want to talk to you.” I tried to reason with him, but he said again, “I really don’t want to talk to you.” I looked to his friend sitting next to him. I said, “will you talk to me?” He said that he would.
This student was open. I asked him what he would say if he were to die this day and God were to ask him, “Why should I let you into my heaven?” He said, after he thought for a moment, “I would say that I was brought up as a Christian.” From there I proceeded to go through the Ten Commandments with him, to show him that he was guilty of breaking God’s law. Then I showed him how if God were to judge him according to His standards, he would be guilty, and condemned to hell. I then told him the good news of Jesus Christ. That Jesus came to die for guilty sinners like us, that if we repent of our sin and put our faith in him, that we would be saved, and have everlasting life. His Christian upbringing was only that–he had not embraced it himself. I asked him to seriously consider these things.
That young man listened well. I felt like he received it well, and I thanked him for talking with me. That was the beginning of many great conversations that day.
Throughout the day I talked with students of a rainbow of different opinions and backgrounds. It was a tremendous lesson to me of how different people can be, and how differently they can think.
One meaningful conversation that day was with another angry Christian. This girl approached me with daggers in her eyes. She was very upset with our approach to evangelism, and especially upset with the heaven test sign that I was holding: “It trivializes an important subject,” she said.
I talked with her for a long time. It turned out that she was a very sweet Christian girl. When I explained our hearts to reach the lost, and our constant endeavors to do whatever we could to be better at it, her heart was softened. I explained to her that I, too, thought the heaven test sign was silly, but that it had led to some wonderful conversations. I directed her to my blog post about the subject.
I also explained to her about another encounter that we had that very day, just moments before. A different young lady had approached us, genuinely broken. She said she believed, but had doubts. We talked with her for a while about the Lord, how He loves her, and will save her and forgive her. And then she, in tears, asked, “What do I have to do to be saved?” It felt like something straight out of the Book of Acts.
I told her to call upon the name of the Lord, just like a drowning kid would shout for help to the lifeguard. Jesus would hear her, and save her. Those who come to Him, Jesus said, He will in no way cast out.
We prayed with her, and she was genuinely thankful.
After I relayed this story to the Christian girl (who had been angry with me), I asked her how many people she had led to the Lord that week. She said nothing. I asked her when the last time was that she led someone to the Lord. She made no immediate comment. Then she said, “Are you trying to say you are better than me?”
“No,” I answered, “but the methods of evangelism that you have despised brought a young lady to the Lord today. I’m sure we could do better, and I want to, but in the meantime, I am at least going to do something.”
I talked to many more people that day, including a young man dressed up as Harry Potter, a Lutheran guy who filmed me for a media assignment, a Wiccan (I think), a transgender lesbian, a pansexual girl, some cultural Catholics, a hippie girl with a peace sign on her forehead, and others that I can’t remember. It was both an enlightening and fruitful day.
I pray that the Lord would help me become better and better at this, bearing more and more fruit.
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