It was humid and foggy last night as we were traveling through Mississippi. We opened all the windows instead of turning on the air, so I moved to the front bench of the van to get the full effect of the damp, cool wind. I began reading a book I had brought along for the van ride, One Thing You Can’t Do In Heaven by Mark Cahill. I’ve heard so many good things about this book on soul-winning—I knew I needed to read it! In the first chapter, he emphasized how it takes practice, practice, practice to get good at witnessing. That encouraged me. Even if I mess up when I’m talking someone, or they don’t respond in the way I want them to, at least I’m getting practice. God’s the One who does the real work anyway.
When my mom asked me if I wanted to accompany her to the store today, I decided it would be a good chance to witness. At the store, I began evaluating each person I passed in the aisles. (… she looks like she’s in a hurry…no, not him, he looks intimidating…she’s on her cell phone…) Finally I decided I just needed to just pick someone! After all, that’s why I had come to the store.
I spotted a lady looking at the pancake syrups who didn’t seem to be in a hurry. I handed her my current favorite tract*, smiled and said, “Hello—this is something for you.”
Surprised, she smiled back warmly and opened it.
“I like to pass these out to people,” I explained, “Inside there’s a coin with the 10 Commandments on it.”
“Oh, thank you!”
“I’m actually from Iowa, but I’m here because my family is going to a homeschool conference in Jackson. We just came from Texas, and next we are going to Florida…so have you lived in Mississippi all your life? ”
“Yes, all my life, but I’ve visited many other states traveling with my kids to basketball tournaments. I live on the Indian reservation and work at the Casino,” she said.
The Choctaw Indian reservation is just a few miles from where we are staying right now. The tribe consists of about 6,000 people.
I continued, “Just out of curiosity, what do you think happens when we die? Do you have an idea of where we’ll go?”
“Well, if we try to be really good…” she said, “well, I don’t really know for sure…I guess the Good Lord will make the decision when the time comes…”
I wanted to tell her how downright wrong she was and that people don’t go to Heaven by being good, but I thought it would probably be more effective to be sensitive in my response. I prayed that the Lord would show me what to say.
“It’s a really important thing to think about because our life here is so short and eternity is forever!”
She agreed with me.
“One of the reasons I like to pass out these 10 commandments coins is because it shows us how bad we really are—and how God sees us. You know, God’s the One who gave us those laws and since only perfect people can go to Heaven, we’re in big trouble. We humans lie, steal and sin all the time…”
“Yeah, and sometimes we do it without knowing it,” she added, “something just makes you do it”.
“Yes—it’s our nature to be bad. We can’t be good without God changing us.” I told her, “Just this morning our family had a Bible study about sins that are really hard to get rid of. We all need God’s help. But, you know, the main thing we need to understand is why Jesus died on the cross. It was to take the punishment that we should have had. We all deserved to die.”
She nodded, but I wasn’t sure what she was thinking. After a little more conversation she thanked me again warmly. I invited her to come to the harp concert/gospel chalk talk that our family is doing at a church in town tomorrow night. She seemed interested and wrote her phone number on a card for me so that I could call her with specific details of when and where. Please pray that she will come and bring her children!! The program is Wednesday night, May 16th. I will post more afterwards about what happens.
Looking back, I think of other things I should have said, or things I could have worded differently, but I have to remind myself that it takes time to learn. It’s better to say something than to say nothing at all.
*The tract is from Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron’s ministry. (www.livingwaters.com) It says “A gift for you” on the front and on the inside it has a message and the little coin. I’ve found that people receive it like a little gift and it’s great for cashiers, waiters, or for starting conversations.