First, let me say that I really need to write the Fishing Report right after going fishing, because I know I'll forget some important details. But I'll do my best to capture what happened.
Second, let me say that I learned so much this Saturday. I've been thinking a lot about something evangelist Mark Cahill talks about. He played basketball at Auburn University with Charles Barkley. He said that he got a scholarship to Auburn University for one simple reason: because he could put a round ball into a hoop. And the way he got good at it was hours upon hours of practice. It's the same with sharing our faith. The more we do it, the better we'll get at it.
Well, let's just say that Saturday was tremendous practice!
My fishing buddy, Charlie, and I decided that instead of knocking on doors, as we have been, we'd go to a local park. We drove up and decided to first talk a bit about the direction God leading us . Before we even prayed and headed out of the van, we were in a conversation about eternity!
We're talking and Charlie sees a man walking (sort of) in our direction. He says, "Hey, come see!" or something and waves him over to the vehicle.
Now understand, I've been wrestling with how to turn conversations to spiritual things for years. So Charlie says, "Hey, we're from a local church, and we're just here talking to people about spiritual things. Have a couple short minutes to talk with us?"
Um, well, I guess I'm without excuse, huh? Think maybe I don't want to get into those conversations, and so I find an excuse? Ever done that, when the Holy Spirit tugs on your heart to get into a spiritual conversation with someone? Yeah, me too. Lots of times.
So we talked with this gentleman, who was very nice and polite. We stayed in the vehicle and he was outside. First, we spoke to him about natural things. Found out he recently went to England. Talked about how dreary it is there sometimes, and how they're getting ready to be World Cup crazy there (the USA-England game was kicking off in about an hour and a half).
Then Charlie says, "I'd like to switch gears for a minute and talk about spiritual things." Well, I guess that's one way to switch gears and talk about spiritual things!
I really can be a coward sometimes.
Had a great conversation about eternity, and God's standard for admission to Heaven, and the authority of the bible. He was uncomfortable for a while but open and polite. Very nice conversation.
Then, we prayed and got out of the vehicle for more fishing!
It was hot. Not many folks were at the park. Probably not a fishing hole we're going to be returning to often. But there was 3 divine appointments this day, so we were certainly in the right spot.
Talked with a gentleman that grew up Jehovah's Witness, but wasn't really going to church anywhere. In fact, he turned down a million dollars! We talked with him for a while about the park, the ducks, growing up in Lafayette, and then Charlie asked about his spiritual background. This man was very guarded but willing to talk.
Charlie talked with him a little while about his background, but he gave really short answers. So Charlie asked if we could have 3 minutes to try to convert him to Christianity. He agreed.
I went through the commandments with him. I thought his 11 year old daughter had walked off, but she didn't. I asked him if he'd ever looked at a woman with lust, in front of his 11 year old daughter! He said, "I can't answer that." I asked him, "Why not?" He said, "I can't answer that in front of my daughter." I was so embarrassed!
Thankfully, God uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. I went through a few of the commandments, and he admitted he'd be guilty, and end up in Hell. I asked if that concerned him, and he said yes. We talked about the cross, and repentance and faith. Then Charlie talked with him about Jesus. He wanted to touch on Jesus being God, since the man had been raised Jehovah's Witness. Charlie talked about the fact that Jesus clearly claimed to be God (accepting worship, getting killed because He claimed equality with God, etc). He said that Jesus was either a liar, insane, or He was telling the truth. And because He rose from the dead, that proves He was telling the truth.
So lesson is: don't ask dads about adultery in front of their children! (hey, I didn't see her come back...cut me some slack, will ya?)
We thanked him for talking, and went on to our most memorable encounter - probably ever.
It was about time to call it a day. We headed back toward the parking lot. There, we ran into a sweet family. Mom, daughter and son. Kids were about 12-14ish.
Charlie asked mom: "We're out here talking to people and trying to convert them to Christianity. Does that bother you?" Mom was really nervous, sort of backing away, but she shook her head no, that it didn't bother her. Charlie asked about the lady's spiritual background. They're Catholics. As we began talking, she could tell that we really weren't freaks and that we really cared about them. She backed away a little more, but with body language that clearly told us she was giving us access to speak to her kids. It was strangely appointed by God and very hard to explain if you weren't there.
So Charlie asked the boy, "Got anything new recently that you really like?" The boy said, "a laptop." Charlie asked, "Did you tell anyone about it?" Of course. "Were you excited about it?" Of course. "That's why we're here talking to you about spiritual things. Because we have something we're excited about that we want to share with you."
He asked the daughter, "what do you think you have to do to get to heaven?" "Be good. Keep the commandments," was her reply. Charlie looked at the son and asked, "What do you think about that?" The son shook his head from side to side and said, "There's no way we can keep the commandments!" Very sharp fellow. We could tell he had been thinking about these things.
So Charlie turned to mom, and asked: "Since we can't keep the commandments, that's not it. But that leaves us with a problem, because we are all headed to a final exit, and after that, it's Heaven or Hell for all of eternity, because there is no purgatory."
Her answer showed me she has been thinking about these things, too. "I know. There is no purgatory." Certainly not the answer I expected from a Catholic. We turned back to the kids, and Charlie and I shared a little more about eternity and spiritual things. As we talked, I could see mom wiping tears from one of her eyes. It was an extremely touching moment. Explaining it doesn't do it justice.
It seemed like this family probably never talked about spiritual things with each other. Yet they've been thinking about it. And God set up a divine appointment to talk to us. And there they were, as a family, talking about the most important topic in the universe together.
All in all, I learned a great deal. The only way to learn is to practice, and I got a lot of great practice on Saturday.
More and more, I'm learning that sharing our faith is a conversation, not a presentation. If I ask questions and listen, I can truly find out where a person is on their spiritual journey without jumping to conclusions. If I seek first to understand, then seek to be understood, people will be more receptive and less inclined to think that I'm shoving my religion down their throats.
A relationship with Jesus Christ is a very personal decision. I can't twist somebody's arm or use the right formula and trick them into becoming born again. I'm just a messenger. Delivering a message, as an ambassador of Jesus Christ, hopefully representing him accurately to the world.
The devil will tell you that nobody wants to talk to you about Jesus. I won't pretend there's never opposition. But many people have been very interested in talking about eternity.
Now if I can just bottle up some of that courage that Charlie has. Throw me into the deep and I can swim. It's diving into the deep on my own that I'm having a problem with.
And remember: don't ask dads about adultery in front of young kids. That's your witnessing tip of the day!
Now, don't you want to keep reading to find out what embarrassing situation I find myself in next time?