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There Was Once A Presbyterian, A Muslim, and A Catholic….And No, This Is Not The Start Of A Joke!

15 October 2011 2 Comments

Today I went into a cafe to treat myself to a buffet breakfast.

When I got out of my car, I picked up my iphone and head set, and a follow up booklet, because I have learnt to always be ready.

Once inside, I could see there were only a few customers eating, and only two staff members, apart from the chef who was busy in the kitchen.

I paid for my breakfast and as  I was eating it, I started to process the possibilities of giving the gospel to the two staff members.

One looked about 20 (a guy) and the other was the manager. He was foreign looking and in his 50′s.   I concluded the  young guy was too busy and I didn’t want to interrupt his work. The manager?  He was busy too and wouldn’t appreciate me taking the time of his young staff member.

But suddenly, and for no particular reason, when they were both only a few feet from me and behind the counter, I just said ‘You guys want to see an awesome video?’

They both didn’t say anything but just stared at me. I felt a bit awkward. Now I’d started, I had to keep going.

Let me ask you a question, I said.

What’s arguably the oldest book in the world?

The bible said the older man.

Do you know how old it is, I said.

No, he said.

The young guy was just watching and listening.

It’s about 4000 years old. We’ve just made a video that summarises the whole book in 11 minutes. Wanna see it?

His eyes lit up, and he said ‘How do I do that?’

It’s here on my iphone.

With that I handed over the iphone and headphones and he (i.e. the manager) gave one ear phone to his younger worker, and inserted the other into his own ear.

There was a bit of stopping and starting as customers came up to buy things.  I could see them pausing the video when interrupted, and starting again when the customer went away.

When they finished the bit about lying, thieving and murdering, I got up from my table and paused the video.

I said ‘I always stop the video here and ask people three questions.’

I asked them if they’d every lied, stolen, or hated and they said they had. I admitted I’d done these things too.

Do you think God is going to let three thieving, lying, murderers like us into heaven, I asked.

If he did, he like a corrupt judge on earth, unfit for his job.

They agreed.

Then I said ‘we must be forgiven. Can I tell you how this can happen for you?’

They both said yes.

What I do now is give a quick summary of what comes next on the video.  In other words, I tell them what they are about to see. I started doing this recently (i.e. stopping the video at a certain point, asking three questions, and then summarising the second half of the video), and it seems to work well.

This is what I say. It takes about three minutes.

There are three things you need to know.  First, when you were born, God opened a book about your life. Every time we break one of His commands, He writes it down. Well, you can imagine as we get older, we have a whole library written against us. Second, the only person who has ever lived who had a perfect record is Jesus. Third, God can’t let anything into heaven which is not perfect otherwise it wouldn’t be heaven.

Now, when you are forgiven, this is what happens. God takes your book, and He rips out all  the pages and throws them into the deepest sea. He then takes a copy of Jesus’ perfect record and places it inside the cover of your book. This book  with your name on the spine, Jesus’ record inside, is stored in heaven. And here’s the miracle. That book is not touched between the point at which you were forgiven and death, even though you are going to break more of God’s laws in that time.

Then when you die you are going to come up before God at judgement. Everyone will. He will command His angels to get your book. They’ll open it and say ‘this person was perfect.’ They’ll be looking at Jesus’ perfect record inside  your book, not the record of all the laws you’ve broken.  You see, this is why forgiveness is all about Jesus.  Ultimately, it’s not about how good or bad we are, but about Jesus and His perfect record.

Now, please watch the video and you’ll see what I have just explained.

At this point they both started watching the second half of the video.

At the end, I asked them the question ‘if what you’ve just seen is true, and if you died tonight, where would you go?’

They both replied ‘hell’

The young guy went on to tell me he was searching. His mother was a non practicing Catholic and his father a Muslim.

The manager was a Presbyterian, a regular and committed attender of a church in Auckland.  He’d never heard the gospel before.

I discerned that it was not appropriate on this occasion to lead them through the sinners prayer.  They were both SO grateful to have been able to watch the video.

We talked some more and I left them with a follow up booklet.

Then I left the cafe, praising God He’d put words into my mouth to start the conversation. Left to myself, I wouldn’t have shared, thinking they were both too busy.

What’s the lesson? Always be ready for the Holy Spirit to grab you and cause you to blurt something out! And once you’ve blurted, you have to keep going! The other lesson is we have to be ready to be used. I went into the cafe looking to create an opportunity.  I had the tools and resources ready.

So, get yourself ready and then be ready. And watch what God will do…..



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  • Sara Alexander says:

    That’s great to read and so encouraging. Thanks. AOG in Featherston, Wairarapa has just started Evangelism training, following on from your Carterton seminar of changing church dna. Bravo to Pastors John and Eileen Traill for taking up the baton. It’s great to be part of this and to feel I’m actually learning to do something so worthwhile and meaningful and pleasing to God. I get that we need to be prepared and have the tools ready at all times and practise the technique, get familiar with the words and so on. Crikey it could be full time work!! Getting there :)

  • admin says:

    Sara…yes, you pastors are leading by example which is incredible and so encouraging. So pray for them and shower them with praise and encouragement. Such pastors are a real blessing and a gift from God to you.
    You ‘ladies’ at the conference were so wonderful, joining in the way you did and making it fun! I am trying to pray for you each day as a church. I so believe in you and what John and Eileen are doing. Let’s believe together for many many people in Featherston to find Christ through your efforts and prayers.

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