Saturday, August 4, 2012

Witness Protection

Bible student Richard, out at 7AM, ready to witness to morning commuters.

I'd seen this dude out around seven in the morning a number of times as I drove to and from Starbucks for my morning pick-me-up. He had a fold up beach chair and giant poster set up on an easel. Rain or shine, that guy was there with a number of different messages about the End Times, the evils of this world and following Christ.

Finally, on Wednesday, I pulled over and got out. I just had to talk to him.

He told me his name is Richard, and he lived in the next town over. He is retired and wants to spend his time now working for God's Kingdom. I asked him what church he belonged to. He told me it wasn't any denominational church, just a simple group of Bible students who meet together once a week.

I read over his sign. It was an anti-war poster with photo copied print outs of newspaper clips and a picture of former President George W. Bush taped on. I pondered why Richard didn't retire this sign as we've had nearly four years of the current Prez now. Actually, he could totally just clip an Obama pic and attach it over the Bush one, since he claims to be a Christian and we're still warring and all...

"Do people come and talk to you... positively?" I asked. Richard admitted most people don't even bother to stop, and others haven't been too kind.

"Is it worth it, then?" I asked during our conversation-turned-impromptu-interview. He stopped and thought for a few seconds and thought. He shifted his weight from one leg to the other.

"Yes. Because I don't know how many people have driven by, saw it, and it planted a seed. They might think on it later, and want to learn more about God. So I did my part."

He handed me a photocopied pamphlet about how Christians should not pick up arms. I skimmed through it quickly and recognized the layout of being similar to The Watchtower. I flipped to the back and saw it was indeed a copy of a publication straight from Bethel Headquarters. The back part of the stapled together handout was copied from a Quaker publication. 

Interesting. I said goodbye to Richard, and added a "God bless you."

He'll need it. I remember when I was a kid, my uncle, who after being raised in church, backslid all the way into selling and using drugs. Like the Prodigal Son, he returned, cleaned up, and was soon fervently testifying to anyone who so much as glanced in his direction. He decided he wanted to take the Gospel to the streets, and we, along with his kids were dragged to various neighborhoods in Linden and Roselle near our church to hand out tracts about coming to God. 

Or HELL awaited you.

They were *this close* to being as tacky as those Jack Chick joints.

I tried to block out those long, boring Saturdays, but I'll always remember the sheer indifference of most of the people with whom we spoke. Some would take a tract, just to drop it about five feet after passing us. Even at about ten, I knew this was not the best way to be "fishers of men".

I read this funny post by Jay Adams on Matthew Paul Turner's site. Adams admits, breaking a cardinal Evangelical rule (along with, I guess now eating as much Chick-Fil-A as possible): he does not witness. And even more so, he doesn't feel a pinch of guilt about it.

You know what? I guess I don't either. Well, at least not in the traditional, get your neighbor, mailman, cashier at ShopRite to repeat the Sinner's Prayer ASAP-type way. I've felt my best witness is... me. Namely my actions. Because while I never had a single person talk Jesus with me based on hading them literature, I have had coworkers, acquaintances and neighbors do so because, according to one friend, "They could see the God in me". By the way, that was and is, one of the best things anyone has ever told me, bar none.

What do you think? Which approach have you tried? Which approach most appeals to you?


Don said...

Exactly the kind of stimulating read I needed to get the juices flowing on a still-sleepy Monday morning. I figured the excitement of watching Usain Bolt jog 100 meters to impressive victory last night would've carried over, but it didn't. Lol.

Also, I couldn't help but notice the journalist within. And the compassion. I'm not sure many would've gotten out of their vehicles and cared enough to engage in conversation with Richard, although you are inspiringly different, of course.

Some would take a tract, just to drop it about five feet after passing us. Even at about ten, I knew this was not the best way to be "fishers of men".

Haha. For every one person who becomes moved and interested in the teachings, there are definitely hundreds more who cannot wait to litter the streets with JW material. Sheer indifference, yes, pretty much sums it all.

Actually, he could totally just clip an Obama pic and attach it over the Bush one

That's just cold right there, Alisha. Lol. In fairness, it's taught how engaging in politics are not acceptable and I certainly understand the reasoning.

Which approach most appeals to me? Hmm. I am more inclined to respond to intimate discussion as it pertains to the bible, including constant prayer. I understand the need for preachers to declare that my soul will burn in Hell, but I'd rather he or she suggest ways I can live in such a cold world w/o threat of my heart turning cold and losing compassion and therefore following the footsteps of those destined for eternal fire.

"They could see the God in me".

Add me to the list of people who've noticed a strong sense of spirituality within you.

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