Evangelizing days before the new year ~ : )
Hey fellow labors and our dear prayer partners,
We hope you have had a blessed Christmas celebration worshiping the King of Kings! And we pray that you have a blessed New Year. We are planning to spend News Year's Eve with some friends and fellowship and pray in the new year! ~ : )
Well, we are quite a bit out of the routine of telling you our seed-planting adventures and we are working on sharing them more frequently! : )
Alright, well I can't think of any special announcements, except that we plan to go out the Citrus Bowl to share about Jesus on January 1st. So, onto some stories from the last 2 weeks.
A brief thought from Paul about an interesting article from an atheist:
I read this article by atheist Matthew Parris at The Times a few days ago admitting the effect of Christianity in his homeland of Malawi, and I just had to share it with my friends! You will really, really enjoy reading this article and seeing his admissions in it!! He shows the difference between the influence of people coming to faith in God and bringing change where they are in Africa compared to the effect of the NGO's (non-governmental organizations) and other organizations trying to provide aid in the region. http://www.timesonline.co.
Last week, we went to Sean Walsh's surprise birthday at a restaurant – all of which was secretly planned by his new wife, Bethany (and they have a baby on the way) ~ : ) It was so much fun fellowshipping, sharing stories and experiences and encouraging one another! But, we also had an opportunity to witness there. The lady who waited on our table's name was Lacey. She was very kind and visited our table quite a few times, and I'm sure she overheard some of our conversations etc and likely found them interesting. All of us at the table had friendly interaction with her. I especially try to go out of my way to be friendly to people like waiters, waitresses, mailmen, UPS guys, security guards, etc ~ people the world doesn't notice nor care about, and I'm regularly looking for ways to encourage them and challenge them to think about eternity. So, at the end of our dinner, Lacey was clearing our table and I asked if she got one of these – and handed her a Million Dollar Bill tract (from Living Waters) and she read it right there and so I waited for her response. After reading for just a few seconds, she handed it back and said that she wasn't interested in religion. I tried to mention that this wasn't about religion, but about eternity, and she still wasn't interested. So, I was kind of disappointed by her reaction. It seemed to me that she had been hurt by at least a religious hypocrite, and so I was still looking for an open door to say just a few more words to her... and then I realized I could apologize to her for how others have treated her and hopefully mention in that brief conversation that I too had left religion, and instead that I had a relationship with Jesus. Well, so as I was still working it through in my mind of how to say it, I watched her complain to a friendly manager about the tract, etc. She even pointed at me, and the look on his face told me that it was a pleasant comment. So, I was stumped. But, I kept looking for an opportunity to share that last thought with her. Then several minutes later, I had the opportunity. I went over to her when she came back around and told her that I wanted to apologize. The look on her face was so shocked, that I repeated myself in case she hadn't heard me right. So, then I apologized to her that I didn't know how other religious people had treated her, but that I wasn't trying to do that. I then mentioned to her that I too had gotten sick of religion and how I was now a follower of Jesus, and then mentioned that that was another subject, and then wrapped up the conversation. I could tell that those words meant something to her, but I didn't know how much until later when I talked with my brother, who saw my last conversation with her and told me that when I apologized, her whole attitude changed, and she really appreciated that someone genuinely cared about her. Her face is one that I will probably remember for quite a while. More so, I hope and pray that God brings her to her knees at the foot of the cross, making her a new creation in Christ.
So after some goodbyes, then we went downtown. When we got there, we found several street-preaching teams out there ~ : ) That was cool. It is neat to us to see God building a team with and around us that is hungry to understand Jesus message and to tell everyone they know! That is so encouraging to us!
Paul spent most of that night praying for those that passed by, and I talked with a downtown Orlando greeter, named Ivan, and reminded him of God's Words, including John 14:6 ~ “I Am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except by Me.” Ivan apparently is still stuck in a false gospel like Catholicism or maybe Oprah ~ from the thinking that all roads lead to Heaven. Ivan knew what Jesus said, but didn't want to exclude those 'innocent' people who 'never hear about Jesus' from Heaven. I pointed out to Him that we all have 3 things inside of us from the time we are born ~ 1) knowledge of God's commands, 2) a conscience, that reminds us of God's commands, and 3) the knowledge that God is our Creator and Judge. I also pointed out to Him that if anyone wants to turn from their rebellion against God and seek repentance, God will bring Him someone who can tell Him about Jesus, or even send Him a vision that will lead that person to Christ. It was a good conversation, and at the end, Ivan thanked me and mentioned that he had learned some things from our conversation.
So, now to this past weekend ~ : )
Friday evening, Paul and I got to preach along with Bart, and Jason, and Kevin. It was a crazy night with all the college football crowd, but we had some great conversations with some atheists and a number of people passing by. One of their big problems with hypocrisy, and we agreed with them about the hypocrisy and they respected that. I told them that we are frustrated with the hypocrisy from the top of the government down and the hypocrisy in many religious circles too, and then I reminded them that right now, God is writing down every detail and on Judgment Day, God will not miss one detail. They appreciated that note, though it also brought conviction on them of their accountability to the Judge of the Universe. At the end of our conversations, a couple of the atheists mentioned that they liked how we were reasonable, but that even though they didn't agree, they appreciated the conversation ~ so that was a blessing too.
Then Saturday afternoon, Paul and I were able to join Jason, Robert and Dave at the Citrus Bowl for some street-preaching and conversations with those who came for the game. That was pretty cool. We had some interesting conversations with several college kids. We trusts that God used us to plant seeds of His truth and His Word.
So, as far as this week's events, New Year's Eve, we are planning to join some friends for some Christian fellowship and to pray in the New Year. Then on New Year's Day, we are planning to go to the Citrus Bowl and talk to people at that game, and then Friday, we will probably be on the streets of downtown again, challenging all who will listen to surrender their lives to Christ and learn what it means to be His followers, servants.
Thank you to all of you who have prayed for us this year! We look forward to what all God has for us this coming year and we pray that He will keep you all busy in His work and growing too!
David, Barbara, Steven and Paul