With my favorite bench MIA, tonight I decided to hit the "streets" (of the mall). I spent a lot of time in prayer this week for the people I would be talking with on Friday night (and for courage). I also spent time reading about the gospel and listening to sermons about it.
Approaching total strangers to engage in conversation with them (any kind of conversation) is the hardest part for me, so I gave some thought to that as well. There is a popular theory circulating in the culture right now involving the end of the world and the Mayan calendar. The calendar of the Mayan civilization (a technically sophisticated civilization in many ways) ends on December 21, 2012. There is an idea circulating (by Christians, sadly, and non-Christians alike) that the world will end on that day. There have been many such predictions about the end of the world over the years. When I was a teenager, there was an idea circulating in the popular culture that the world would end in 1988. That was the year I graduated from high school. I was a professing Christian at the time, but this prediction terrified me (hmmm, should have been my first clue that something was wrong--but that's another story). With that in mind, I decided to use the following questions when I approached people at the mall this Friday night, "Have you heard about the theory involving the Mayan calendar? What do you think about it?"
That's exactly what I did, and God allowed me to have three different conversations with people. Everyone I approached had heard about the Mayan calendar. Some were concerned, some were not.
The first conversation did not end well. It was with a young man sitting on a bench (I didn't get his name). He said he had heard about the theory of the world ending in 2012. We chatted amicably for a few minutes, but when the conversation turned to Spiritual matters, he started to get agitated. He perceived me to be pushing my ideas "down his throat". He was pretty angry when he left. The gospel was not presented in that conversation.
Side note: When I left the conversation with the first young man, I was a bit shaken by it. But, to my surprise, I did not die. Having realized one of my worst evangelizing fears (encountering the very angry person) and living through it, I thanked God for it, prayed for courage, and moved on in search of another conversation.
The second conversation was with a young man named Jeff. He said he had heard about the Mayan calendar theory but didn't put much stock in it. When I asked Jeff if he had a Christian background he said, "Oh, yes, I'm a Christian." When I asked him if he could tell me about the gospel he didn't know what I meant by that. I clarified my question, but he still struggled explaining it. As I left Jeff, I gave him a gospel tract with a thorough gospel presentation in it. He was about to catch a bus and said he would read it.
The third conversation was with a group of young girls sitting on a bench in the middle of the mall, Jessie, Jade, and Ashley. I asked them if they had heard about the Mayan calendar theory and they said they had, but they didn't think too much of it. I asked them if they had friends who believed it, and they said they did. Then I asked them, "Does it scare you a little bit?" And they all said, "Yes." Two of the girls professed to be Christians and one did not. They (Jessie and Ashley) seemed to have an understanding of the message of the gospel but could not clearly articulate it. When I asked them if one needed to be a good person to go to heaven they said, "No, but it's hard to explain it." Jade said she didn't know what she thought about God or heaven or hell. I asked her if I could share the gospel with her, and she gave me permission to do so. All three girls listened as I used the 10 commandments to show them their sin, talked about the holy nature of God and that because He is good and just He must punish sin (they agreed). I talked about how Jesus came to earth and lived a sinless life, died, and rose again to take the punishment for our sins. Then I explained repentance. As I was doing that, Jade's phone rang (I continued talking to the other girls). She hung up the phone, and they were off in a flash. As they made their exit, I gave them each a gospel tract with a thorough gospel presentation in it for further study should they wish to do so.
Please pray for the young people who heard the gospel this evening (and the one who didn't), that God would convict their hearts and draw them to Him.
Note of clarification: I am in no way endorsing the Mayan calendar theory of the end of the world. I simply wanted to get a pulse on how the popular culture is processing this information and use it as a springboard into a conversation about the gospel.
Concerning such matters as the end of the world (second coming of Christ) Jesus said:
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
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