|The first month of the year is in the books and foot traffic in Athens is picking back up. With the semester beginning on January 10, the college students are back and out on the streets. We have been out preaching, passing out tracts, and talking to students on Friday nights. |
During the covid crisis, the bars were forced to close at 10:30 so we had begun to be out between 8:30 and 10:30 pm. Prior to that we typically would be out between 9:30 and midnight, or later. To be honest, as I am approaching my 58th birthday I have been enjoying the earlier nights but am considering going back to the later schedule to reach more students.
This year has already produced some fruitful conversations. I had one conversation with an atheist that he actually started. Another brother was preaching and this guy walked over and asked me what our purpose was. Any other time I would have thought this was just another snarky objection but it was obvious he was sincere. I explained to him our purpose was to get the Gospel message to people. He asked me if we were trying to force people to believe as we did. I explained to him that we were just the messengers and whether or not they believed was between each individual and God. I was able to tell him the Gospel about 3 times during our conversation but he would not take a Gospel tract as he was leaving saying, “I do not want any more information.”
As I was preaching one night 3 people walked up to me in a mocking manner. The boy had his phone out videoing himself in front of me as I was preaching. At some point, he told me he was a homosexual and asked me if I hated him because he was gay. I asked him why he would think that. He told me that another street preacher had told him he hated him. (That may or may not be true, by the way). I asked him if I told him living a homosexual lifestyle was a sin did he think that meant I hated him. He said he did not. After clearing that up we had a good conversation about his belief that he was born that way. I agreed with him to the extent that we are all born into sin qualifying that everyone’s sinful nature did not manifest in the same way. Trying to reason with him I used an analogy of a person that had a desire to sleep with as many women as possible even though he had a faithful wife. Did that mean that it was acceptable and right for him to do so? He insisted that he didn’t want to be gay but he couldn’t help it. The conversation went around in circles for a few minutes and we couldn’t seem to get beyond his belief that his desire for other men justified his homosexuality.
One of his friends began to talk and said she was a believer. Even though she also tried to defend her friend’s homosexual lifestyle It was obvious she had a church background. She moved on from that and began to talk about her own struggles. Her issue was not being able to recreate the excitement she felt at the Christian camp she had attended. She told me about reading her Bible, praying, and even journaling but she just couldn’t get that feeling she had at camp. I asked her how we walked, by feelings or by faith? She agreed it was by faith so I encouraged her to keep reading, praying, and journaling but not to look to her feelings for affirmation. We talked about how when we are at church or with a group of believers it is easy to be excited but the minute we step out into the world the reality of living in a fallen world tries to suck the joy from our lives.
Much of what we do is similar to the encounters above. We often get accused of standing on the corner and yelling at people. We absolutely do preach the Gospel but we also have many one-on-one or group conversations. Although every encounter is a bit different, our goal is to minister to people and get the Gospel to them.
Thank you for your continued prayers and support!
Until All Hear!
2 Corinthians 5:21