This week I had the amazing opportunity to join some friends in Ocean City, MD to share the gospel there at the beach. It was a wonderful time of ministry and we spoke to a TON of people. Many encounters, many open heats, and many “God moments.”
I must say that I was quite surprised at the amount of people that we were able to engage there on the boardwalk. I did ministry like this on the boardwalk in the same place two years ago, but with different tactics. We didn’t speak to as near as many people. The last time I was at the boardwalk, we only passed out tracts, and preached with the paintboard. This time we used the infamous ‘Heaven Test’ sign.
Oh, Heaven Test sign! How I have despised you, but now how I love you!
I have written before about the Heaven Test sign. I would have never used if Mark Johnson hadn’t have thrust it upon me. But, oh, I’m so glad that he did. At the boardwalk, we could hardly hold the sign for five minutes until someone approached us. And having people approach us is so much better than trying to approach them! Instead of trying to force them into a conversation, they are the ones that initiate it. There is no resentment for invading their space, or taking up their time. It’s all on them. It’s a perfect conversation starter for a busy place like the boardwalk.
I wish I could recount all the stories from the people that I talked to because of the Heaven Test sign, but I cannot possibly remember them all. I will resort to just one.
On Tuesday morning, I spent a good part of the morning in prayer. I really spent some time seeking the Lord, asking Him to convict and convince on the boardwalk. I know that my words are empty unless He adds His power to them. My words can change no one. Only His power can make the difference.
After praying for about an hour, I got up to do something (I can’t remember what). I told Nathanial (who came with me to Ocean City) that I planned to pray a little longer. I went back to my room to pray. In my room, I felt a leading from the Lord to stop praying, and, instead, to go to the boardwalk. I got Nathanial and the heaven test sign, and we went.
After holding the sign for a few moments, we were approached by several groups. After talking with them, I noticed a young man walking down the boardwalk with no shirt. This, of course, is not unusual, but this guy’s chest looked as if it had been shot with a shotgun. There were scars all over his chest. He walked past and I thought no more of it.
A moment later I was approached by a young black man. He was by himself (which is unusual because most people approach us in groups–probably because they felt safer that way). He asked about the Heaven Test; but as I began to talk, the guy that I had noticed with the scarred chest walked up to me. I shook both of their hands, and introduced myself. A moment after that, another young man approached me. I introduced myself to him, as well.
So here I was, speaking to these three strangers, who were strangers to each other, as well. I asked them that if they were to die at this very moment, and God were to ask them why He should let them into His heaven, what they would say. They had no answer. From there I proceeded to show them God’s law, how we are guilty of breaking it, and how if God were to judge us according to His law, we’d be headed for hell. They understood and acknowledged their guilt.
After giving them the bad news, I told them about Jesus–how Jesus took the punishment that belonged to us, and how those who believe would not perish, but have everlasting life. They listened intently. Then I told them, “The bible requires us to do two things in order to have eternal life: repent, and trust in Christ. When are you going to do that?”
I could immediately sense the Holy Spirit at work. It then occurred to me that it was for this encounter that the Lord had sent me from my prayer room to the boardwalk. God was at work.
The young black man reeled. He took several steps backwards. The conflict within his heart was on display in his actions. “You know these things are true, don’t you?” I asked. “Yes!” he said, “I do. I know it’s true.” “What is keeping you from completely giving yourself to the Lord?” I asked. He told of his struggle with the world, and with the lure of the things of this world. He was very honest. I encouraged him, and told him that the Lord would help him, to lean on Him in times of temptation.
I then asked the young man with the scars what had happened. He told me that he had been in a car accident. I noticed a straight scar down over the place of his heart. He said that his heart had stopped, but that they were able to bring him back to life. I told him that the Lord had given him a second chance. I reiterated the frailness of life. He agreed.
After this we all prayed together with our arms around one another.
There we were, all strangers on a boardwalk with hundreds of people passing by, huddled together in prayer. It was a beautiful thing.
We all embraced with a hug as they genuinely thanked me for speaking with them. It was truly a God moment. I pray it was was a moment that three young men were forever changed. I believe that it was.
You know, if that was all that happened on that trip, it would have been worth the effort; but there was much more. Only God knows the eternal impact that was made over those few days at the boardwalk. God is so good!
And you know what else? Anyone can do this. It’s a little scary at first, and you have to swallow your pride, but you don’t have to be super spiritual or have a Bible degree. A little bit of instruction and anyone can talk through the heaven test. It’s really easy.
I don’t know what the people are thinking who approach me. I would guess that they think I’m a simple minded, brain washed Bible thumper. I say that because at almost every encounter the countenance of the inquirer changes from light-hearted to serious as the conversation goes on. It’s as if they are expecting something silly, but get something life-altering. Sure, a few joked through the whole thing, but in my experience of the last few days, most came to take it quite serious. This was especially true concerning those who responded to my question of when they were going to repent and trust in Christ with “right now.” It was more than a few. Good is good.
I hope this blog encourages you to seek out a way to share your faith. I prayed and sought out this kind of opportunity, and the Lord answered my prayer. He’ll answer your, too.
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