I received a group text on Thursday, asking who was going to Athens for evangelism. The person who initiated the text said he was thinking of staying in because of the weather. I was also planning on staying in on this particular Friday night, due to the cold. I saw my opportunity to justify myself and quickly responded that I was thinking the same thing. Just when I thought I had been justified in wanting to stay in, another guy chimed in with, “I may give it a shot.” Well, I couldn’t let him go out alone so I sucked it up and met Scott on the corner of College and Clayton about 9:30 Friday night.
After talking for a few minutes to catch up (we do not often see each other), we prayed and I began to read in John. After about 3 chapters I was having trouble with cold hands and dealing with the Bible so I gave it over to Scott.
After he had read through chapter 6 and shared the Gospel, I began again in chapter 7.
The foot traffic had been slow but it was beginning to pick up a little and it didn’t take long for a drunk Christian to come up and address me. I was expecting the usual, “You’re doing this wrong…” comments to begin but it was right the opposite. He told us how he appreciates what we were doing and was glad we were out there, etc. He wanted to hang out and listen so naturally we encouraged him to stay as I continued to read John.
In just a moment three young men walked buy and one said, “He’s why people don’t want to go to church!” and continued to cross the street. I asked them to come back and explain what he meant instead of just walking by and making a rude comment. He then proceeded to call me a hypocrite but actually did come back to talk to/rebuke me. He continued to explain to me that I was a hypocrite for responding to his remark. The conversation went something like this:
Young Man: “As a Christian you should not have said anything to me about my remark. That’s what the Bible says!”
Me:”Where does it say that?”
Young Man: “No matter what anyone says you should have just kept reading and not said anything.”
Apparently I was not allowed to engage anyone no matter what was said. He naturally never came up with a verse to back up his assertion but continued to tell me I was driving people away for simply reading the Bible on the street corner. He had already shared that he was a Christian, had taken many hours of religious classes and had read EVERY word of the Bible, so I asked him how it should be done. He had a wonderful plan! **sarcasm**
“You have to get down on their level.” I asked if that meant I needed to go into bars and get drunk with people. He then confessed to having a drinking problem and said he told people about God even when he was drunk but insisted that what we were doing was wrong and turned people off. After telling him a drunk trying to tell me about God would turn me off he continued with his argument that our method was in error.
Scott had joined the conversation a few minutes earlier so I told the young man he could talk with Scott and I was going to continue reading. It was hard to concentrate while hearing all the stuff he was telling Scott. I cannot remember exactly what was said but when his friend began to yell as loud as he could I stopped to see what the discussion was about. This new guy was convinced God forgives everyone of all sin, if I remember correctly. The 3rd guy came up and was telling me that they had been working on the yelling guy for 5 years. The 3rd guy said he was a Christian as well. These 2 young men told me that their lost friend was always this way and there was no way Scott would be able to even get a word in.
As we stood there and talked the yelling stopped and the young man began to actually listen to what Scott was saying. His friends seemed amazed as one said, “He’s actually getting through to him.” The original guy began to tell me he appreciated what we were doing but just didn’t agree with our method. I reminded him that if we had not been there Scott would not be talking to his friend that they had been trying to reach for 5 years. He said, “If I hadn’t disagreed with you, this wouldn’t be happening.” I clarified by reminding him, if we had not been on the corner reading Scripture, he could not have disagreed with me at all. He acknowledged that and, eventually, they went on their way, hopefully with a better understanding of why we do what we do.
I do not know the conversation Scott had with their friend that was yelling but I do know that his countenance drastically changed, in a moment, and although I might not have heard him, I’m sure Scott shared the Gospel with him and had him thinking. It seemed as though God was working on that young man.
Pray for these young men!