When We See Other “Links in the Chain”

April 17th, 2014

20140416_165552_26435 Yesterday we went witnessing at the University of Iowa. Here’s our group meeting up afterward to discuss how the conversations went.

20140416_162615_26434 Luke witnessing

One guy asked Luke, “Are you the one who gave me the million dollar bill?” He said he remembered talking with him before. We told him it wasn’t an accident that we bumped into him again! (Note: there are 30,000 students at the University of Iowa, so it’s not that likely to run into the same ones again!)

I met two girls from Malaysia. They thought it was neat that I had been to their country four times, and we instantly became “friends.” After I shared about the significance of this weekend (celebrating the resurrection), I asked them, “So what do you guys think is the way to have peace with God?”
“By reading the Book,” they replied.
“The Quran?” I asked.
“Yeah and the Book, your Book, the Bible—the Quran tells us to read that.”
“So have you read the Bible?” I asked.
“Yes, some,” they replied.
“With Christians or Muslims?” I asked.
“Both—we’ve gotten together with Christians to read the Bible and talk about it.”
“Wow, that’s great!” I told them, “Maybe you could come to my house!”
They were warm towards that idea; hopefully the Lord will work it out.

On the way home, I told this story to those in the van. This caused us to begin discussing various international friends that we have been trying to arrange to have over for dinner. I mentioned the name of a student who was a friend of my dad’s who we’ve been wanting to have over. When our friend Eric heard me mention that name, he exclaimed, “He’s the guy I’ve been witnessing to that I was telling you about!”

After comparing a couple details, we became confident that we were talking about the same guy. Eric, who attends the same university, explained about the good conversations he had with this guy! He has even had him over for dinner. We told Eric how my dad had become friends with this student as well and has met with him for coffee and brought him to our church. Neither knew the other one was witnessing to him, but both Eric and my dad were very encouraged to learn this. Praise the Lord!

Often we forget that we are usually just “one link” in a chain of people that God is using to bring someone to Christ. But *sometimes* the Lord lets us see another link in the chain. [smile] It’s so encouraging to be reminded that He is powerfully carrying out His plans–and He is intimately involved in all the little details.

Here’s another recent example: About a month ago, an out-of-state friend shared with me some video footage and pictures from an evangelistic outreach at a university in his area. One of the video clips was of him witnessing to a student from a country closed to the gospel. As I was watching the video and heard the student say what country he was from, I realized, I think I might know that guy!!

You see, last summer when we were traveling in that state, my dad and I were able to witness to a guy from that country who told us where he was going to school (the same university where my friend was doing the evangelistic outreach). We established a friendship with him and even got a picture together. We pulled up the picture, and to us he looks the same as the guy in the video our friend sent us. Same guy? We think so. If not, at least they know each other because they are from the same country studying at the same university.

This was a reminder to us to pray. The odds of our friend witnessing to the same guy we had witnessed to (in another state!) are not high. And the odds of us finding out about it are definitely not high! This was the first time we’d received a video from our friend of a witnessing conversation, and who was he witnessing to? Someone we think we already know?! Only God can write stories like these. :)

“Come and see the works of God, who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men… He rules by His might forever; His eyes keep watch on the nations … Bless our God, O peoples, And sound His praise abroad” (Psalm 66:5-8).

Not Just A Woman, A Former Demoniac!

April 14th, 2014

CitadelDome

There was sure a lot for the believers in Jerusalem to be talking about 2,000 years ago after Jesus rose from the dead! I love the way the Lord caused the resurrection story to play out with all its interesting elements, aspects, and angles!

I enjoyed Tim Chaffey’s article and chart on evidence for the resurrection in the most recent Answers Magazine. If you don’t get Answers you can read it here.

One point that I hadn’t thought of before was that Mary Magdalene — being both a woman and a previous demoniac — would have been practically the last person the Jews would have trusted as a witness for Christ’s resurrection. If someone was making up this whole thing, they certainly wouldn’t have formed a story that had Mary Magdalene as the first person Jesus appeared to! Women’s testimonies were not highly valued in those days, and a woman who recently had seven demons makes her much less trustworthy! To read Tim Chaffey’s fuller explanation of this, you can also click here and scroll down to “Principle of Embarrasement.”

Also, in regards to using this week for witnessing, here is a link to our Resurrection questionnaire and tract.

And if you’d really like to read more about evidence for the resurrection of Jesus, I’d recommend reading Tim Chaffey’s whole series of articles from last year. [smile]

Galatians Weekend

April 9th, 2014

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Our friend Annie (in pink on right) hosted a Bible study weekend recently for girls ages 15 and up on Galatians and sent me this picture. She said the girls came prepared to share about what they learned from studying beforehand and that it was encouraging to hear the girls’ thoughts and insights. They also did this last October on the book of Ephesians.

Last time we ran one of these Bible study weekends in our area (our 1 Peter weekend), we were extremely blessed. If any of you would like to run a girls Bible study weekend in your area, I’d highly recommend it! Just pick a book of the Bible, have everyone study it beforehand, and be prepared to be blessed by the deeper fellowship you will enjoy as you dig into God’s Word together. Can you think of a better way to spend the weekend with friends?! [smile]

“I am a companion of all them that fear thee, and of them that keep thy precepts.” Psalm 119:63

A Challenging Conversation

April 6th, 2014

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Yesterday at the park a young mom told me her spiritual beliefs. Her friend laughed as she described her “religion.” Her “belief” was a blasphemous reaction to creation to mock Christianity.

This is going to be an interesting conversation, I thought to myself.

I hadn’t even said anything yet about what I believe, yet right from the start she had clearly stated her rejection of my views.

I knew she probably wouldn’t respond well to questions about sin or Jesus, so instead I asked, “What do you think is the biggest problem in the world?” (I don’t normally ask this question, but I had just written a new questionnaire about an hour earlier. I saw the Lord’s provision in that!)

She and her friend liked the question and basically answered that the biggest problem in the world was selfishness. This led into a conversation about Hitler, morals, and truth, and the need for a standard of right and wrong (which they agreed to).

“I guess it comes down to ‘be a good person and that’s all that matters,’” Jackie said.
“Well, here’s my thinking on that,” I told her, “I know that I am not a good person in comparison to God’s holiness and perfection. It’s all in what you compare to.”
Though she didn’t agree with me, she couldn’t exactly disagree either.

Throughout the next half hour or so, I did a lot of listening and a lot of asking questions. A few times I squeezed in some truths, such as: how Christianity is different from the religions, God’s “rescue plan,” the difference between operational and historical science, etc.

I told them, “I disagree with all of the religions.”
This statement seemed to surprise them.
I explained, “All of the religions are about attaining favor with God. But the Bible says that doesn’t work; we could never attain God’s favor. Christianity is about God reaching down to us.”

When I left they thanked me warmly. They stated how nice it was to have clearly opposing views yet still have an enjoyable conversation.

When I came back and recounted the story to my dad, he reminded me of the power of questions. In a situation like this one–when you are talking with someone who has firmly and blatantly rejected Creation and Christianity–questions are a powerful tool. Sometimes, if we ask the right questions, people talk themselves into a corner. Often, it makes a more powerful impact to let them come to the conclusion that they don’t have good answers, rather than simply stating “you’re wrong and here’s why.” I think this is part of what Jesus meant when he told us to be as wise as serpents and harmless as doves (Matthew 10:16).

They probably won’t admit that they don’t have good answers at the time, but the Lord can bring the conversation back to their mind and use what we said.

Weekend Trip to the Creation Museum!

March 24th, 2014

We are so excited by how we saw the Lord working this past weekend!!! We just returned home from a Friday-Sunday trip to the Creation Museum. We had 16 in our group, including friends from Iran, Singapore, Malaysia, and China, as well as several young people from our town.

20140321_142813_26208 Watching Evolution Vs. God on my laptop in the van on the way there. (They really enjoyed it, as you can see!)

20140322_152306_26244 Here’s our group along with the Ramsek family who hosted some of us.

20140322_151735_26241 Discussing some of the encouraging conversations of the day.

My dad spent most of his time with a new friend from Iran who came along. They had a wonderful time together. My Dad said it’s the longest conversation he has ever had — a three day discussion! They talked for the entire 10 hour drive to Kentucky, all through the museum, and the 10 hours back! One time dad even missed his exit because of the interesting conversational topics they were discussing. [smile]

20140322_161724_26247 Concluding the day on Saturday with a great lasagna dinner at the Ramsek’s home!

20140322_162959_26254 This gave us the opportunity to have a time of sharing as a group — a special conclusion to the day at the museum.

20140323_070715_26315 The Dewald family for hosted half of the group of girls.

It was very encouraging to me to see the Lord truly ANSWER PRAYER this weekend. We were very blessed by three families who hosted us: the Dewalds, Ramseks, and Philips. We praise God for how all the logistical details fell into place and for how much our friends enjoyed the trip. Each of the international friends expressed strongly that they were glad they came and want to remain in touch. Our friend from China exclaimed with a bright smile, “This was the best three days of my life!”

We think the 9 hour drive was a blessing in disguise because of all the good van conversations on the way there and back. If you have a weekend you can get away, I recommend that you take some friends to the Creation Museum and see how the Lord works. [smile]

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High; to declare Your lovingkindness in the morning and Your faithfulness by night” (Psalm 92:1)

Great Things He Has Done

March 18th, 2014

We are praising the Lord for the wonderful time witnessing at the parade yesterday! There is such a thrill in sharing the gospel and seeing the Lord’s little miracles along the way. NOTHING else compares!

“Those conversations are so fun,” my dad commented to me as we were walking back to the van afterward.

It’s grieving to think of all the times we fail to take opportunities to share the gospel. We miss out on *so much* when we aren’t out there witnessing.

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Praying before we started.

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Luke (the guy without the hat) sharing the gospel with this group. Luke comes witnessing with us frequently, but he does it much more on his own! It’s always exciting to hear his “latest story.”

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Nickie and Bekah went to a different street to passing out tracts and have conversations with people.

My dad had a great conversation with some Hispanic college students and two students wanted to pray and trust Christ to save them! Apparently, they had some previous Bible knowledge and yesterday “it all came together” for them. Praise the Lord!

I used a St Patrick Questionnaire which made it easier to start conversations quickly. I think the questionnaire makes people feel more comfortable and willing to talk.

My favorite conversation was one with Josh and Ciarra, a brother and sister who looked about 18 and 20. They just soaked up what I was telling them about salvation. No hesitation, no resistance, just pure openness and excitement about the good news of the gospel.

Ciarra had thought one could get to Heaven because “God forgives.” I told her she was partially right, but that there was more to it.

“If a criminal stood before the judge and said, ‘Will you just forgive me?’ the judge couldn’t just do that; he wouldn’t be a good judge.”

Ciarra and Josh really agreed with that.

When I explained that God provided JESUS to be our substitute and take our “death penalty” so that we could walk out of God’s courtroom free — yet God still be just — it seemed to click with them. As Romans 3:26 says, “So that He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.”

“Actually, two guys talked to me about this in the mall last week,” Josh told me.
“Really? How did they start the conversation?” I asked, wondering if I would know who they were.
“Well, I was wearing a t-shirt that said ‘God is the only one who can judge me,’” and they complimented it.
“Ah, neat!” I replied. “What did they say?”
“About the same thing you said,” Josh replied.

“Well, I think that means that God is reaching out to you!” I told him. “I think it really shows His care! I mean, since that just happened last week, and now here I am talking to you – out of all the people here at the parade!”

Josh agreed enthusiastically, and seemed very surprised by all this himself. I had already given him a Bible a few minutes earlier as I sensed his eagerness. (I had given Josh a Begin, which has some of Genesis as well as John and Romans). He and Ciarra said they’d be interested in meeting up with us to study the Bible.

As I was recounting this story afterward, my friend Luke said, “Oh yeah, I talked to him at the mall Friday night.”
“Oh, that was you, Luke?!” I said.
“Yeah, I’ve been praying for him and we’ve been e-mailing,” Luke replied.
“That’s neat you’ve been praying for him!” Sarah said, “That’s probably why God caused Grace to talk to him today.”

Cedar Rapids is the second largest city in Iowa and there were 10,000+ people at the parade. The odds of me having a conversation with Josh are not high! Sarah reminded us that just a few days ago, we saw the Lord arrange another one of these “miraculous connections.” What an undeserved privledge that we are God’s “fellow workers” and get to watch Him work (1 Corinthians 3:9). It’s not surprising that we should especially see His hand in matters of reaching the lost.

20140317_023746_26190 I walked up as my dad was talking to these guys. After my dad laid out the gospel, one of the boys said, “Wow, that just blew my brain.” He was pretty excited about what he was learning.

20140317_024129_26198 There were also two girls sitting on a bench listening. After a few minutes they joined in and all four asked question after question … making the conversation go on and on. The girls were resistant initially, but really began to warm up as their questions were answered. [smile]

As we left, the guys thanked my dad warmly. “Thank you SO much,” they told him.

These teens had a lot of real questions. They were acting silly and argumentative, but only on the surface. They were laughing and having fun, just as we were. But they were also learning a lot. That is something they didn’t expect, but appreciated!

If Christians don’t get into talks with unbelievers, how will our world ever hear Biblical answers? They apparently don’t hear them anywhere else, and so they think there aren’t any answers.

What a privilege to be involved in their lives.

Ready to Give an Answer

March 14th, 2014

Baby with WOGS

I received this picture last night from a friend with this message: “I thought you would enjoy some pictures of our little daughter … preparing for the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in St. Paul. She is only 4 months old, so may or may not be able to actually go this year (depends on the weather and how cold it is)…:-)”

In just a few years, maybe we will be able to get another picture of her out there passing out tracts! When children begin passing out tracts when they are young, they avoid the “fear stage” that most adults have to go through in learning to passing out tracts. Tract distribution is simply a way of life and you don’t know any different [smile]. (Not to mention, being cute is a big advantage for them!)

When our family speaks on “family ministry,” we stress how important it is for children to get a taste for ministry. When a child realizes “God used me today” that is very significant in their lives. Nothing else compares.

Passing out tracts with my dad on St Patrick’s day is my first memory of evangelism, and a few things stand out in my mind. 1) What we were doing was really important 2) I knew that somehow I could do it as well as big people 3) I knew my dad was pleased.

I think those three things made me want to keep doing it.

“Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You have ordained strength” Psalm 8:2

St. Patrick’s Day is Two Weeks Away!

March 3rd, 2014

Two weeks from now is St Patrick’s Day! Here’s the video we put together after the parade last year.

For some ideas of ways to be a bright light this St. Patrick’s day, see last year’s post. You may also want to take a look at our St Patrick’s Day tract and questionnaire.

May we, by God’s grace, have St. Patrick’s attitude, who said: “I am ready [to give] even my life without hesitation; and most willingly for His name. And I choose to devote it to him even unto death, if God grant it to me.” – St Patrick

Come Sinners View

February 27th, 2014

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Come, sinners, view the Lamb of God,
Wounded and dying, bathed in blood!
Behold His side, and venture near,
The well of endless life is here.

Here I forget my cares and pains,
I drink yet still my thirst remains;
Only the fountainhead above,
Can satisfy the thirst of love.

His thorns and nails pierce through my heart,
In ev’ry groan I bear a part;
I view His wounds with streaming eyes:
But see! He bows His head and dies!

Oh that I thus could always feel!
Lord, more and more Your love reveal!
Then my glad tongue shall loud proclaim
The grace and glory of Your name.

John Newton, 1725-1807

Click here to hear lyrics put to music.

Picture: Camp Berea, Mexico

“As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” Psalm 42:1-2

The Bible is Not Like the Telephone Game

February 13th, 2014

During the recent debate between Ken Ham and Bill Nye, Mr. Nye said that the Bible is like the game of telephone (meaning that it has been distorted over the years).

Since unbelievers say this so frequently, it’s important that we have a good answer! Our prayer is that this 4 1/2 minute video will help young people answer this argument with more clarity and confidence.

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:14-16


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