A dedicated team of compassionate laborers for Christ arrived early and began hauling tables, setting up tables, sorting clothes, organizing stations and cooking food. Thank you to all the volunteers who sacrificed their time,energy, money and sweat for the glory of the Lord!
A big thank you to the Ingles supermarket for the parking lot space and a special thank you to the Cherokee Armory for the tables. Even though there was a door closed to us from what we thought would be a reliable source, we trusted that God would provide with all that we needed to make the event a success for His glory...and provide He did!!!
Here is how the event process worked: Each person that came through the line received five tickets. One ticket equaled one article of clothing or one house hold item. When the person got to the end of the clothing tables, they would redeem the tickets for the items and we would bag them up. Once the items were bagged up, we would share the Gospel with them.
Every person that came through the line was personally witnessed to. After we shared the Gospel, they would proceed on to get the free hotdogs, chips and drink.
We were able to biblically share the Gospel with roughly 200-250 people Saturday...Praise God!
I hope to be able to post some stories from others who helped out Saturday, but while it is fresh on my mind I would like to share a few conversations I had.
Before we were even complete with the set-up, I noticed a young man sitting down on the curb between where we were and the YMCA parking lot. I grabbed some tracts and headed over to see if I could have a chat with him. The young man was on the cell phone and was kind enough to tell the person on the line (Do we still say "line" for a cell phone) that he would call him back in a few minutes.
I started the conversation by telling him what we were doing on the other side of the lot and invited him over in a little bit to get some free clothes and food if he so desired. He asked why we were doing that and I told him we had an ulterior motive; we care about where people would be spending their eternity. So, after handing him a Million Dollar Bill, I asked him the million dollar question: If you were to die today, where do you think you would spend eternity?
He actually said that he had been thinking a lot about that lately and had been reading many books to help answer that question. I asked what kind of books had he been reading and he mentioned several books that I could only describe as "New Age"philosophy books. He told me that he had basically come to the conclusion that all religions were more or less the same and that space aliens would ultimately usher in the apocalypse that the book of Revelation talks about.
We danced around the sinfulness of man and then I made it personal to him. He told me that he had never lied for a bad reason. All the lies he has told were to help out his friends or family. He said that he never once taken anything that was not his...but if he had, it would not have been his fault, but societies fault for causing him to do it. He never came out and admitted he had sinned in anyway, shape or form even after going through all the Commandments.
He went on to talk about the Deity of Christ, the Trinity, space aliens, the Government, etc. I tried to stay on point, but conversation with him seemed like trying to catch a greased pig. I eventually steered the conversation back around to sin, death, wrath of God, Judgment and eternity in Hell for sinning against God. As hard as it was to get there, I shared with him what God did for us so that we could be forgiven of our sins and be free from His wrath on Judgment Day.
I gave him a "Why Christianity" booklet and Cam gave him a Bible. We shook his hand and went back over to the clothing drive set up.
Another conversation I had before we began was with a young lady who had stopped by to ask if she could donate some clothes for the drive. My wife had been chatting with her when I got the "come over here now" wave. When I walk up my wife explained why the young lady was there and that she had grown up in a non-practicing Christian home, met and married a Muslim man and had since converted to Islam.
The lady started telling me what a good thing it was that we were doing and that she believed that the Bible and the Koran were both true. She also went on to tell me that she thought Jesus was a good man and prophet and that Allah and the God of the Bible were the same.
I asked here what the test of a prophet was in Islam. She said that a prophet always speaks the truth. I asked her if she really believed that. She said yes. So I said if a prophet always speaks the truth, and, according to you Jesus was a prophet, then everything Jesus said was true? Is that right?
She said yes.
So I asked her if Jesus was speaking the truth when He said He was the way, the truth and the life and that that no one goes to the Father except through Him?
She just looked at me. So I broke the silence by saying that by her own words this must be true. If Jesus was a prophet, and a prophet always speaks the truth, then Jesus was speaking the truth when He spoke those words.
She then countered with the Bible Christians have today is not the original Scriptures. She said that in the first or second century, the original Scriptures were lost and the translations we have today are not trustworthy.
I said that is not what you stated a few minutes ago. I told her that she started off by saying that the Bible and the Koran were both true. So either the Bible is true or it is not. She said a few other things not related to what we were talking about and shifted on to saying that Christians believe that Jesus is God. She said that Jesus was not God, never claimed to be God and was just the "son" of God.
She said that no where in the Bible would we find Jesus claiming to be God. I said what about Jesus saying that He and the Father are one. Or how about Jesus telling Philip that if he (Philip) has seen the Son, he had seen the Father. Or what about Jesus saying that before Abraham was, I Am? I said that those Jewish rulers knew exactly what Jesus meant when He spoke the words "I Am". That's why they wanted to kill Him on the spot for blasphemy -
The lady changed the subject pretty quick and said that there were people waiting for her and she had to get on back to them. We shook hands and I gave her a ministry card which has a detailed Gospel message on the back.
There were many conversations that day but one last one I want to share was with a lady named Shareeka (sp?). Shareeka joked and laughed for most of our conversation and seemed very apathetic towards the Gospel.
Shareeka believed that God was God of love and kindness and would never punish anyone...let alone send anyone to Hell for eternity. I immediately took her through the Good Person test (which she failed). She admitted to being a liar, a thief and a blasphemer. But even though she believed she would stand before God one Day, she refused to believe that God would punish her for breaking His law.
I believe, in Shareeka's mind, "God" is a grandfatherly figure type who is sitting around on a Heavenly porch just waiting for all his kids to show up so He can give them a big hug and kiss. I gave Shareeka earthy examples of breaking the law and having to pay the consequences. I told her no matter how much she may think a judge is loving and kind, he would have to follow the law and sentence her for her crimes or he would be a derelict judge.
I tried to explain to her that the very thing she was relying on to save her on Judgment Day (God's love) was the very thing that will condemn her to an eternity in Hell. God is either going to see her as a transgressor of His law (a sinner) and she was personally going to pay for sinning against God, or, she needed Someone, an Advocate, to stand in her place on that Great Day.
I explained Who that Advocate is and shared the Gospel with her. I told her about the finished work of Christ at Calvary and that God commands her to repent and put her faith alone in Christ alone for salvation.
Shareeka laughed, smiled and thanked me for talking with her. She cracked a few jokes and then wanted her picture made with me ~ sigh ~
I am not sure why she laughed and joked around so much. Maybe it was one of those nervous laughs. Maybe there were influencing circumstances. Maybe she just didn't care what the crazy Jesus freak had to say. I don't know.
One thing is for sure though: There will be a Day when Shareeka, like all of us, will stand before a just and holy God. And on that Day there will be no joking around. There will be no do-overs...no second chances to get it right. There will be no pleading or begging. There will be no persuading God to see it your way. There will only be you and God and your sin that He hates.
God will not turn a blind eye or give you a wink and excuse you for transgressing His law. If you die in your sins you will spend an eternity in Hell with the wrath of God abiding on you; forever -
The Gospel truth is that Christ died for your sins according to the Scriptures. He was buried and rose again three days later defeating death and conquering the grave.
God commands you to repent and put your faith in the One who will stand as your mediator between you and God.
Those are just a few conversations I had and I hope to have some more from the others over the next couple weeks along with different photo's.
Please pray that God will draw to Himself those He desires to save, opens their blind eyes and leads them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ for His glory and His glory alone.
Soli Deo Gloria!