Witnessing to Protesters Outside the Ark Encounter

“Lord, please let the atheists be so touched by the love of Christians tomorrow that they are bewildered,” we prayed, anticipating the events of the following day.

We were volunteering at the Ark Encounter on our way home from the Answers in Genesis NEA gospel outreach in Washington D.C.

A surprise opportunity arose to join Eric Hovind and some other friends to talk with the protesters, and to bring them lunch.

When we told one of the other volunteers that we would be visiting with a group of protesters, she lit up. “Let’s pray for them right now!” she exclaimed. Her face reflected the feelings of us all. How beautiful that God was bringing a whole group of atheists right to our “doorstep,” so that we could share the love and truth of Christ with them.

img_5661 Eric Hovind did a great job spear-heading this ministry effort to the protesters. He wrote a comprehensive report of the whole day here.

img_5658 Some of the protestors were pretty angry about the Ark. However, many of them were very willing to have conversations with us.

img_5673 Three different atheists told Sarah that they really enjoyed their conversation with her, and thanked her for talking with them.

One atheist actually blogged about the conversation she had with a Creation Museum staff member named Kendyl. The atheist wrote, “I hadn’t planned on talking to any of the Christians there, but found myself engaged in a couple of one-on-one, deep conversations with them anyway. They were calm, meaningful discussions about faith that I actually quite enjoyed. During one of the conversations I and the girl I was talking to were both tearing up talking about our experiences. It was a very touching moment and one I will not forget. The thing I often remind myself of is that we’re all just humans trying to figure out the world around us. We shared our disagreements and debated a few issues, but sometimes you just have to push all the divisive stuff to the side and connect with someone on a deeper level. We did that and it was beautiful.”

img_5656 Unfortunately, not all of the protesters were as willing to converse. In fact, when the Christians first arrived, the atheist leaders were telling their group not to speak to us at all. Praise God, He had different plans for them. 🙂

img_0588 They weren’t too excited about the food we brought for them. They put these warning notices on them.

img_5662 Nickie and I talked with these ladies for about two hours. Our goal was simply to listen and understand what made them so upset that they would come and protest. They had much to say, especially about the way religions have affected women’s rights.

After about 45 minutes of discussion, a guy who had been listening in, piped up, “Do you guys mind if I jump in, as a male hearing this talk?”
They laughed.
“Seriously, it’s not very often I get to hear females talking about female issues that involve religion.”
“Yep!” she said.
He pulled over his lawn chair, and then looked over at Nickie and me to make introductions.
“I’m assuming, Christians?” he asked politely.
“Yes,” we smiled.
“Uh, conservative? Like, super conservative?”
“We’re volunteering for the Ark encounter,” I said, smiling.
“Oh! Well then that explains it,” he said.

His big question was, “How do you reconcile being a female and having to read the Bible?”

Smile.

If only he would have given us the opportunity to answer!

It was clear that these atheists wanted to sit on the judgement seat above God and judge Him. This guy, (I’ll just call him “Jay”) told us, “If God knocks on my door tomorrow … I will tell Him, ‘I’m not praising you, I’m not getting down and worshiping you, I’m not going to thank you, we’re going to sit at my dining room table and you’re going to sit here and answer every &$%*!@#$! question that I have. And I still may not worship you. I’ll respect that you’re here now … way to show up … ‘bout time!”

I share his disrespectful words to show the attitude that many of them had towards God. They are not merely atheists, but anti-theists. Many of the people that came to protest were extreme anti-theists, not your average atheist that you meet every day. Most atheists I’ve encountered over the years aren’t as angry as some of these were.

It was sad to hear how Jay became an atheist. He told us that he was confirmed a Lutheran, but once he had his second child, he began thinking, “Okay, I’m a parent, I have to start laying the groundwork for my kids. Are we religious?”

Jay began getting advice from people about religions. One guy advised him, “Look at the different faiths out there, and pick your holy book of choice. Then get away from the cheerleaders of it (pastors, priests, activists) and read it for yourself from front to back.”

At this point I was becoming very interested in Jay’s story!

He continued, “I couldn’t even get through the first page of Genesis without thinking, ‘what in the @&)%*$%# is this about? On the 4th day, God created light? Well how in the *#%$!(@& did the first 3 days happen?’ … And then I jumped on the Internet and started typing … trying to get the other side of it.”

(I guess he forfeited the advice of his friend, who said to read it for yourself before getting others’ opinions!)

I asked him, “Don’t you think you should have read the whole Bible before you came to that conclusion? Don’t you think that’s a little unfair to stop right there?”

“Not when you understand how the Bible came to be,” he said. “The Bible is not one consistent story from start to finish. It just a bunch of jumbled whatever. Did you know there’s THREE different versions of the resurrection story in the Bible?”

Jay claimed that coming up with a consistent resurrection story can’t be done.
“But I’ve studied this myself!” I told him, “And Tim Chaffey over there in the white cap wrote an article on this — I could send it to you!”
“It can’t be done,” he repeated.
“It CAN be done. I’ll explain it to you!” I offered excitedly.
Another lady, entertained, commented, “I just have to say, you guys are so cute. I love people.”

I am not sure that “cute” was the most complimentary thing she could have said at the moment, but whatever. Haha.

And regarding the issue of light before day four, there are many easy answers to that question. Here’s one by ICR, for example. Genesis 1:3 says that on the first day “God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. So Jay was confused when he said on the fourth day “God created light”. The Bible says on the fourth day God created the sun, moon and stars.

Though Jay hadn’t read the Bible, it was obvious that he had been reading all kinds of things ABOUT the Bible. Atheists like Jay love to pull out obscure verses from Leviticus to act like they know the Bible really well, hoping to stump Christians. But in reality, they usually don’t actually know the Bible — they just go to atheist blogs or watch debates where they acquire “ammunition” to use against Christians. (It’s not really ammunition because their objections have simple answers, but often they don’t actually want answers. Rather they “suppress the truth” as Romans 1:18-22 explains. 🙁 )

For example, Jay claimed the Bible is extremely immoral because of the account of Lot offering his daughters to the evil townsmen. He felt that because that event was in the Bible, the Bible must be condoning Lot’s behavior.

Nickie and I explained that Lot’s actions are not lifted up as godly in that account! The Bible gives all kinds of examples of evil… and it is not condoning it, it is simply showing the depravity of men’s hearts.

But Jay wasn’t satisfied with our answer. He asked scornfully, “Does it bother you that your God in that book didn’t jump out of the sky and condemn it (Lot’s actions)?”

He continued, “The moral compass wasn’t there. Why wouldn’t God jump in at that moment and intervene? He intervened and turned Lot’s wife into a pillar of salt. Why did he just sit on the sidelines in this part of the story [when Lot was about to offer his daughters to the townspeople]?”

“But He didn’t!” Nickie replied. “Did you read the rest of the story? The angels inflicted the townsmen with blindness.”

Although Jay wasn’t really listening and didn’t really care, I was grateful for Nickie’s quickness to catch and correct his misunderstanding of the history recorded in Genesis 19. Either Jay was lying or hadn’t really read the whole account himself. The truth is that God DID intervene to protect Lot and his family from the evil men outside. In fact, God did it by the personal visit of an angelic team who powerfully blinded the enemies! How is that “not intervening” ?

You see, these atheists act like they have dozens of great arguments against the Bible, but their arguments crumble when evaluated.

“Can I ask you ‘how far creationist’ you are on the scale? Like do you believe humans hung out with dinosaurs?” Jay asked me.
“Yeah, we believe God created dinosaurs on day six,” I said.
“So you literally think that humans hung out with dinosaurs?”
“Why do we find dinosaur bones with blood vessels in them?” I asked.
“Is it to trick us?” he asked.
“It wasn’t found by [Creationists],” I replied, “it was found by Mary Schweitzer who doesn’t even believe in young earth creationism, but she found this tissue and these blood vessels in these dinosaur bones and then did the experiment again and again…”
“In which facilities? Christian facilities? Independent?” Jay asked, and then immediately switched the topic to kangaroos.

img_5676 I was thrilled that Tim Chaffey could come and join our conversation. He responded to each of their objections (which seemed endless) with clear and articulate answers.

One guy had a question about how the water could have covered the planet.
“You’re assuming Mt Everest was there [at the time of the flood],” Tim replied.
“Yes, because geologically, Mt. Everest, even though it is a young mountain, is still very old,” the guy said.
“It’s covered with sea shells,” Tim replied.
This led into a discussion about how the sea shells got there.

At one point Jay said to Tim, “Why would one planet in this galaxy be *so important* to a creator?

“Well,” Tim began…
“I’m not looking for an answer,” Jay said.
“Well I’m going to give you an answer,” Tim said, seizing the opportunity to answer that good question, “Because if this is where He creates life — and in the Bible the earth is made before the sun, moon and stars — ”
“Which doesn’t make any sense at all,” Jay said.
“I think it makes perfect sense, if He wants to do it that way,” Tim replied.

[I found it interesting that Tim, without knowing my previous conversation with Jay, brought up the VERY TOPIC that had been the big turn off for Jay — the fact that God made the sun, moon, and stars, on day four.]

Tim continued to explain that God cared about this planet because this was where He sent His Son to die on the cross for our sins.

“We really appreciate you talking with us” we told Jay, as things were winding down and we had taken friendly pictures together and exchanged contact info.
“Oh this is wonderful,” he replied.
We both agreed that talking in person is better than online debates.
“[Online] it just turns into a shouting match … My caps lock is louder than your caps lock!” Jay joked.
We laughed.

img_5668 Meanwhile, my dad, Sarah, Haley, and our other friends were having good conversations too. Praise the Lord.

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img_0597 The great news was that twenty-one of the protestors agreed to go on a guided tour of the Ark — guided by Tim Chaffey who is the content manager for the Ark (he wrote the signage). He blogged about the day here. The Ark Encounter also blogged about it here.

img_0609 Eric Hovind, giving a great explanation about geology and the flood.

img_0601 The atheists even agreed to do a 10 minute Q and A time with Tim Chaffey at the end of the personal tour.

2016 Prayer Letter 6 Ark Do you notice how intent the look on their faces are? They aren’t mocking anymore. They’re listening respectfully. Praise God that many of these atheists — who began the day by chanting at the exit ramp — ended the day as our friends!

img_0618 A beautiful sunset closed that first long day. Wow, so much had happened, and that was just opening day! What else is the Lord going to do at the Ark Encounter? How else will He use it as a beacon for the gospel? Perhaps that will depend on how much we are praying towards that end!

2016 Prayer Letter 6 Ark The next day, some of the leaders of the atheist protest came back! Our friend, Tony Ramsek, invited them into the IT office for lunch. They talked for several hours about Creation Science and more importantly the person and work of Jesus Christ!

Tony shares interesting details about his interactions with the atheists in his presentation called “Beginning in the Beginning: The Power of Creation Evangelism” given at our recent Witnessing Workshop (blog post coming soon!).

Witnessing Workshop – Beginning in the Beginning: The Power of Creation Evangelism from Tony Ramsek on Vimeo.

Praise the Lord, who thrills our hearts by giving us the opportunity to be His hands and lips, reaching out to those He loves.

Bright Lights Leaders at Creation Museum

We have several girls staying with us during July and August to help run our summer Bright Lights conferences. In between conferences in Omaha and Dallas, we decided to take the girls to the Creation Museum.

DSC09935 The sprinklers went off while taking this picture, adding some excitement 🙂

IMG_6466 In Noah’s Cafe

The Lord answered prayers and put together a wonderful “package” for us in Cincinnati. Since I’ve already blogged about the museum in the past, I thought I’d share about a few of the other events of the weekend.

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We asked Steve Ham to share with our group, and we were so excited to hear about the amazing things God is doing with Answers in Genesis internationally! Steve also shared some helpful witnessing tips. He emphasized, “Genesis doesn’t just lead to the gospel–the gospel is in Genesis.” He presented a series of great pictures of the gospel from the first few chapters of Genesis, and we’re still talking about some of the points he made.

IMG_6516 I asked Tony Ramsek​ (who heads up the NEA outreach that I help with) to share with our group about evangelism. He shared 22 points which really met our team “where they were at,” and the girls appreciated it greatly. I’m glad I recorded it because all the leaders want the recording. (And now they are just waiting for his book. 🙂 )

IMG_6527 The next morning, we joined Tony and his family and friends at their gospel booth. The Lord blessed us with some very good conversations, and the time of witnessing was one of the highlights of the trip for the leaders.

We saw the Lord provide many opportunities for conversations. For example, Anita (one of the leaders from Mexico) met a young, lonely, Hispanic mom who expressed much thankfulness for the talk. Anita is now working on connecting her with a church. There were many encouraging encounters (I still haven’t heard all the stories), and we’re grateful for the Lord’s blessing on that time!

IMG_6564 This guy with the spiky hair stayed around talking for a long time! He was very convinced he is a good person, and adamant that his good deeds should give him merit with God. Lissets (in black) spoke to him of God’s perfect law and cautioned him about the danger of trusting his own heart, while following the world’s standards of “good.” Please join us in praying that the Lord convicts him of his need for a Savior!

IMG_6509 Anna and Emily had a wonderful talk with the lady at the ticket booth. She was a believer with a powerful testimony. It was a unique conversation because they kept having to move to the side when the next car came, but it was a blessing both ways.

IMG_6545 We also went to see the Ark in progress (see it behind us).

IMG_6557 There’s a small little building set up where they have plans and descriptions for visitors to see. I was convicted about how important it is to be praying for this project right now as they are designing everything … making decisions that will be seen and read by so many!

IMG_6625 With Grace and Faith Ramsek. We’re grateful to their family for their hospitality as it’s not a small thing to host a group of 10 girls for 3 nights! We saw a fawn in the grass from the window just before taking this picture. As we were walking outside, Faith remarked, “Hopefully the baby deer won’t photobomb our picture.” 🙂

We are now on the road again, this time with two fifteen passenger vans and a 24 ft. trailer, headed to Texas. We’ve already seen His protection in catching and repairing some mechanical trouble before we left.

We’d appreciate prayer for the Lord’s hand on the upcoming five conferences. We’re grateful that He has good plans ahead and is powerful to carry them out!

Sharing the Gospel at the NEA Convention (Part 2)

Below is a continued report of some ways we saw the Lord working at the NEA Convention in Orlando last week.

IMG_5823 For the third day, we moved the booth to a different part of the convention center. The conversations continued to be fruitful and we praised God. The girl in grey stayed at the booth talking for about thirty minutes.

IMG_5805 I snapped this picture as a flood of non-stop traffic was flowing by our booth. Talk about adrenaline rush! [smile]

IMG_5810 Faith and Khylie (Tony’s daughter and James’s daughter) helped the third day. They did an excellent job showing the books to the teachers and reaching out to the lost. Tony and James purposefully bring their children along to almost all their gospel outreaches in order to give them “hands on training”. Reminds me of when my dad used to take me out witnessing when I was their age. Doing evangelism as a family is one of the best ways to train the next generation to be powerful witnesses!

IMG_5769 A highlight for me from the whole weekend was listening to others’ witnessing conversations and learning from them.

One conversation Steve Ham had with a Jewish lady (not the lady pictured above) came to a surprising end:

“How did you convert to Christianity?” Steve Ham asked a Jewish lady who claimed to be a Christian.
“You know, it’s a process…” she said, explaining about her rough background.
“Can I ask a follow-up question?” Steve asked. “How does somebody get to Heaven?”
“I just think you have to be true to yourself … and be true to life,” she replied.
“Isn’t it God that’s going to let you in, though?” Steve asked.
“Of course,” she agreed.
“So isn’t He the authority?”
“Of course. But to me, it’s being true to yourself…” she said and made a reference to the “atoning sacrifice.”
“Of Christ,” Steve inserted.
“Of Christ,” she agreed.
“Actually the Bible says that’s the ONLY way,” Steve confirmed. It says, “There is no other way under Heaven by which you must be saved—and that’s Jesus Christ.”

She recoiled at this statement. “Yeah, I wasn’t saved, I’m not into that, I’m just not,” she said definitively. She said it was too basic, too black and white for her.

Interesting remarks for someone who claims to be a Christian!

“You see,” Steve replied, “I would say the Bible alone tells us how to get to Heaven.”
“Yes, and I agree with that,” she said.
“But,” Steve said, “what the Bible says is not that we should be ‘true to ourselves,’ you know what I mean?”

“You need to just live your life the best you can!” she emphasized.

“Well, I’m going to tell you something. I love people. I do what I do because I love people.”
“Good for you,” she replied.
“But here’s what I get really concerned about,” he said.
“What’s that?”
“If I have the truth of the Scripture that says the only way to Heaven is through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and somebody says that it’s something other than that, I don’t think I love that person if I say, ‘Well, that’s okay.’”

Ouch. This comment touched a nerve with her!

“Ooo, but you, but you’re supposed to, but you should love!” she argued.
“I do!” Steve replied.
“Mmm, but you’re judging!” she said.
“But the Bible makes the judgment about what gets into Heaven, not me,” he said gently.
“BUT–but–you’re saying to me… oh, I gotta get going,” she said.

At this point, I’m thinking, Of course. He just gets to the gospel and she “has to go.” But I was surprised by how things ended.

“Okay can I just give you one book?” Steve asked her.
“Sure, that’s great,” she said. “These are expensive materials,” she commented (obviously trying to be polite).
“Well it’s our pleasure to give them away,” Steve replied. He handed her a Begin book (which is a great overview of the Bible and contains the whole books of John and Romans) and explained, “This goes through the sequence of the Bible that clearly says what the Bible teaches about salvation. I want you and everyone else I speak with to be in Heaven with me.”

“And you know what?” she replied, “I think everybody’s journeys are going to be different but hopefully the end results the same, whatever it is. I’ve been through a lot. I’ve had one traumatic experience that, you know, no matter what I’ve learned to not look at color or somebody because they are different … ”
“Yeah. Do you know there’s not even color?” Steve replied, “Do you know that we’re all brown – we only have different amounts of melanin?”
“Yeah, I’ve heard that,” she laughed. “I like this guy. Where are you from?”

“Australia,” he replied, and continued, “I sincerely don’t agree with you about how someone gets into Heaven. I do believe the Bible says otherwise.”
“But I’m still on this journey … you know what I mean? You’re kind of ‘done,’” she told him.
“But there’s only one reason I’m ‘done’ in my mind, and it’s because I’ve accepted the authority of God’s Word instead of my opinion…” Steve replied.
“Don’t you think it’s based on individual interpretation?” she asked.
“Read the Scriptures,” Steve replied.
“Oh, I have, and I’ve been through Hebrew school … and isn’t interpretation interesting?”
“Well, Ephesians 2 says that you are saved by grace through FAITH, and it’s not of your own doing, it is a gift of God, not a result of works so that no one may boast. It’s only through Christ Jesus that we are saved. The Bible says that’s the only way!”

And this next part was my favorite part of the whole conversation: Steve explained to her WHY Jesus was the only way. He said, “Jesus, who came, was not a sinner, and He paid a penalty that I could never pay. So it makes sense that it is only through Him! … when I put my faith in Him, He gives me His righteousness.”

“I do like what you just said. That was pretty incredible,” she stated.
“Yea, well, it’s all in that book I just gave you,” he said, referring to the Begin book.
“I will read it. And if you’re here this week, maybe I’ll come and talk to you again.”
“Lovely to meet you,” Steve said.

Earlier in the conversation I thought she was going to walk away angry, but instead, she walked away on great terms. She had learned something.

You see, before Steve explained WHY Jesus is the only way, this lady accused him of “judging.” But after he explained it, she acclaimed what he said as “incredible”! What a contrast. I wonder how many reject what we say because we are not teaching the “why” as we should be. So many people (especially in America) are familiar with the idea of Jesus dying on the cross and even Him being the only way, but because they don’t know the “why” of the gospel, they are turned off by the exclusivity of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone. Let us make a deliberate effort to explain the “why’s” and “how’s” of this amazing gospel we’ve been entrusted with.

I praise the Lord there are great, biblical answers to be shared with people. May we, by His grace, be always ready to share them! (1 Peter 3:15)

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This man told me he was a 5th generation Mormon. He began explaining his views about the resurrection and celestial bodies, etc. I was glad Tony joined the conversation about this time.
“How do you attain to that resurrection?” Tony asked him.
“Through Jesus! By keeping His commandments,” he said.
“Oh, okay, so have you kept them all?” Tony asked.
“I’m trying!” he said.

“The thing is, what does God require: Trying hard or perfection?” Tony asked him.
“I think that if we are trying hard, the day will come when He will perfect us,” the Mormon man answered.
“Well, how is He going to deal with our sin?” Tony asked, “Because even when we try hard, we fail—and that’s sin.”
“He’s paid for those sins,” the Mormon man replied.
“Then why are [you] ‘trying hard to keep the commandments’?” Tony questioned.
“Because He’s told us to keep the commandments,” the Mormon man said.
“For what reason?” Tony asked, pinpointing the heart of the issue.
“So that we’ll be qualified for whatever degree of glory God has for us,” he answered.

Interesting how Mormons use similar lingo but have totally different beliefs. This Mormon was speaking of qualifying for entrance into three supposed levels of “heaven.”

Tony explained, “Let’s say one man keeps 90% of the commands and another keeps 70%. There’s still a 10% shortfall with one, and a 30% shortfall with the other. God has to punish that sin in order to be just. If somebody commits a crime, a just judge will mete out a penalty … As Christians, we believe that our sins are forgiven by grace ALONE. Not by my efforts. When Jesus died on the cross, he said, ‘It is finished!'”

The Mormon man objected to this. “After all you can do!” he inserted.
“The Bible doesn’t say that,” Tony corrected. “That would be bad news! The good news is that Christ died for sins once for all … The Just (Jesus) for the unjust (us), so that He might bring us to God… It’s not ‘after I try to pay for my own sins’!

“You believe as you have been taught. I believe as I have been taught. I know that Jesus died for our sins,” the Mormon man said.
“All of them?” Tony asked.
“Yes, he died for all of our sin,” he replied.
“Okay, so you can rest now?” Tony asked.
“No, I can’t rest!” he said.

How sad. He is trying to do the impossible! What a burden. If he would only believe God’s Word.

“Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to have come short of it. For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they also; but the word they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard. For we who have believed enter that rest…” (Hebrews 4:1-3).

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

Sharing the Gospel at the NEA Convention (Part 1)

We are praising God for the victories He accomplished at the NEA Convention last week. (NEA stands for National Education Association and every year public school teachers come together for this annual convention.) I thought you might be interested in a few stories. Though some were resistant and opposed to our message, many were extremely grateful and moved to the point of tears. There’s no doubt in my mind that the LORD was reaching out to individuals through those working at our booth. It was beautiful to watch. Because there is so much to report, I decided to post a “Part 1” and “Part 2.”

IMG_5732 “You just blew my mind,” the girl in the green vest told Tony (in black) gratefully after he explained to her how science points to the truth of creation, not the theory evolution. But that was just the start. Next, Tony asked her about her spiritual background and led her into the gospel. (We always try to move toward the gospel and not just speak about the origins issue, because the gospel message is what contains the power!) Kayla said she was a Christian but thought she’d go to Heaven because she hadn’t sinned much.

nea-3 Tony turned the conversation over to Haley and me, and the next 30 minutes were spent answering her questions and showing her verses from the Bible about the problem of sin, and the solution in Christ. She was on the verge of tears as she learned more about God’s love for her and His desire for her salvation.

nea-5 Dozens of conversations went this same way: they started with the topic of origins and transitioned to the gospel of Jesus. As Steve Ham talked with this lady, she was so touched she started crying. I was challenged as I listened in on many conversations. I was reminded of how far I have to grow in witnessing, but encouraged to see how powerfully the Lord works through His servants!

IMG_5747 You may notice the little “rainbow” that we have in our clouds on the top left of our banner from the polo shirts hanging over the curtains. These were from the LGBT booth directly behind us.

IMG_5748 I got to know them a little bit, and appreciated their concern to be good neighbors to us. May the Lord touch their hearts and open their eyes to the truth of the gospel!

The NEA is one of the most liberal organizations that exists in America. There might be a tendency in this environment to be be cautious or quiet to avoid “ruffling feathers” in hopes that we don’t get kicked out. But we’ve chosen to not worry about that and be very clear about our purpose for being there: proclaiming the gospel.

I liked the way Tony Ramsek from Answers in Genesis (who heads up this outreach every year) put this during one of our lunch breaks. He said, “Here at the NEA I want to be as bold and loving as possible, but I’m constantly getting pressure from everywhere saying ‘you have to be careful.’ But I say, ‘You know what? God is the One sustaining us. If God wants to shut us down or allow us to be shut down, God will provide another audience.”

Tony continued, “I see this all the time: people become scared of losing their audience [and it causes them to refrain from being bold] … but I’m not at all. Because I believe God will provide the audience if we are faithful.”

See Tony’s report of the outreach on Ken Ham’s blog.

image1 God certainly provided an audience for us last week! At our booth there were often many conversations going on simultaneously, with Scripture verses being shared all day long. It would be interesting to know how many times Ephesians 2:8-9 was quoted by someone working at our booth 🙂 .

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The 4,000 DVDs and 4,000 books given away were helpful spring boards to get these conversations started.

My favorite conversation was with a young Native American guy, Frank, who was searching for meaning in life.
“What is your version of the meaning of life?” he asked Haley and me.
We shared that we get meaning from our relationship with our Creator. Then Steve Ham (who thankfully joined the conversation) went deeper by explaining that our purpose is to bring God glory and WHY that is.

“A year ago, I asked this question to a whole bunch of people … ” Frank said. He explained that the common denominator he found was “connection.” He thought lots of religions could coexist and we just need to have connection to something. “Even if it’s not to God,” Frank explained, “it could be connection to yourself, to the earth, etc…”

Steve replied, “Here’s what I would ask us to consider. I believe there’s one Truth. If there is only one Truth, then there are other ideas that are actually not truth. Truth is not relative. Eight can’t equal nine. If someone is saying, “Truth in identity is for me to connect with my mind or to connect with the world, I would say ‘where do you get that truth from?’. If it’s just ‘what I believe’ then, ‘what’s your authority for believing it’? Our authority is the Word of God … which claims to be the one Truth. Jesus claims, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father but through Me.”

Then I was sort of blown away by how well Steve responded to Frank’s “connectivity” point. He said, “If you go back to the beginning of Scripture, to Genesis 1, when we were created in God’s image, we were told to have dominion and multiply on the earth … one major thing happened. Instead of wanting to seek God’s glory with our whole heart, humanity rebelled against God. He gave us one rule… and instead of seeking connectedness only with God, and bringing Him glory, they tried to connect with the creation and themselves. They tried to bring about their own glory. And that is the event that brought rebellion to all of humanity. So we actually see the idea of wanting to be connected to ourselves or to the world outside of Jesus Christ to be the problem, not the solution.”

This is very much in contradiction to Native American religious beliefs, but it is what Frank needed to hear!

After more discussion and explanations, Frank was out of arguments. He said to Steve, “Pretty solid right there, that’s cool. I can’t say much.”

I thought that was awesome. Here, Steve totally contradicted so much of what Frank believed in, yet Frank could tell he loved him, he could see his wisdom, and he appreciated the conversation greatly.

As the conversation was wrapping up, Steve stated, “I want you to hear this very, very carefully: We are not dissing Native American culture. When I share about Jesus, it comes out of great love for the people that I’m talking to. I love the Native American people so much I want to preach the gospel to them so that they might come to faith in Jesus.”

“Are you here tomorrow too?” Frank asked, commenting on how interesting the conversation was.

“I’d love to talk more,” Steve agreed. Then he left them with this thought: “It’s good to have discussions and say ‘they were interesting.’ But from our perspective, these discussions actually mean something. At some point it comes to whether you do or do not have faith in Jesus Christ. Which means you have to come to the point where you say, ‘I’m repenting and believing in Jesus Christ for my salvation,’ or, ‘I’m rejecting Him.’ I’d like to see you accept Christ …”

As you can see, Steve made it VERY CLEAR that it was not possible to have both “Native American religion” and “Christianity.” It was one or the other. Frank needed to hear this. Praise God He led Frank to one of His servants who was bold enough and loving enough to share the truth.

“Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is NO OTHER NAME under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12).”

Spiritual Battles in Orlando

IMG_5719 Please pray for the conversations we will be having the next few days with public school teachers here at the NEA Convention. We will be giving away about 4,000 DVDs and 4,000 books produced by Answers in Genesis. Our desire is to move beyond the Creation Science topic with the teachers and share the gospel of Christ–the only message with the power to save!

As you can see, we had quite a few boxes to unpack!

IMG_5720 Some of our team this year

Back row: Joe Owen (speaker for AiG), Steve Ham (Director of International Outreach for AiG), and James Opperman (Director of the web team for AiG)
Front row: Me and Haley Skrnich (Bright Lights leader in Texas)

Our theme verse (and prayer) this year is Acts 4:33, which says:

“With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.”

We are so utterly dependent on the Lord’s grace, but we rejoice that His power is great, and He is the One who fights for us, rescuing souls! Praise God He allows us to help, though we are undeserving of the privilege.

Weekend Trip to the Creation Museum!

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 Teaching Tool For Defending the Faith

Our family has been having such an exciting week hearing more and more amazing reports of how God has been using the Ken Ham / Bill Nye debate!

One of my favorite media clips about the debate was this 18 minute interview aired yesterday between Alan Colmes (Fox News) and Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis.

This audio clip is a steady flow of face-paced skeptical arguments from Alan Colmes, with Dr. Mortenson boldly and politely answering each one with enthusiasm and precision.

If you want to learn how to answer skeptics, this is an outstanding teaching tool. Listen to it more than once because, remember: our goal is not to just be entertained, or even to rejoice that Dr. Mortenson did an excellent job. Our goal is to learn from him because we are ALL commanded “to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15)!

More Ways to Spread the Word

Although Answers in Genesis has promotional materials available for the debate, I wanted something that could fit 4 to a page and still be readable. So I tweeked their design and put together the sheet below. I thought I’d post it in case anyone else wants to use it too.

Tomorrow we are going to try to go pass out 1,000 of them at a nearby university. It’s very easy for people to go and watch this online.

nye_ham_est

Click HERE to print these. (If anyone would like it to say 6pm CST instead, let me know and I can e-mail you a different PDF.)

These are also great to give cashiers or basically anyone … I was at the post office the other day and the man behind the counter exclaimed, “I love Bill Nye the Science Guy! You can watch this online? I might just do that! Thank you!”

Even though the debate is coming up very soon (this Tuesday) this may actually be the IDEAL time to let people know about it. People easily forget stuff like this if you tell them too far in advance!

At Creation Museum

We are off again for our next Bright Lights conference trip. The Lord has blessed us already with a restful travel day, a perfect place to spend the night in Indiana (thanks to our friends, the Winters) …

20130807_140258_22335 … and a fun day at the Creation Museum!

20130807_114646_22291 Camel rides!

20130807_115413_22309 The animals seem to enjoy all the interesting people they get to look at. [smile]

20130807_115058_22299 I think this white one is my favorite.

20130807_115237_22302 Notice the Zorse (Zebra-horse) in the background. For more interesting information about the zorse, see here.

20130807_140433_22340 Tia and Hannah riding the new zip line.

20130807_161307_22345
At the end of the day, a friend of mine from Saudi Arabia (who I had met on a plane a few months ago) and her brother came to join us. We had a great time taking them through the museum. That was one of the highlights of the day!

We are now setting up at the church in Ohio. The Radiant Purity Conference starts tomorrow night.

Recently I’ve been thinking about the end of Philippians chapter 3 and beginning of 4. When our joy is in our citizenship in Heaven and our standing is in Jesus Christ, nothing can shake that joy.

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body that it may be conformed to His glorious body, according to the working by which He is able even to subdue all things to Himself. Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved … Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice!”

Please keep the upcoming Bright Lights conferences in your prayers. We want the Lord to extend His hand and do great things in the lives of the attendees–and in our lives! Please pray that we would have clear, bold, and honest speech as we share with these girls.

Also, remember to be praying for the Creation Museum. The Lord is doing great things there, and they continually need prayer for wisdom, energy, and the Lord’s hand of blessing upon all that happens there.

Cincinnati

20130606_112604_21355 About two weeks ago I flew to Cincinnati for a reunion with some good friends who I met during a 7-week music theory class we took together in Indianapolis about 6 years ago. In the above picture we are eating lunch at Noah’s cafe at the Creation Museum.

It is great to have old friends. When you do something hard together you bond, and our class has stayed in touch all this time. Our reunion was 3 days. It was difficult to arrange but it was worth it. There were some good times of special fellowship in the Lord.

20130603_114116_21296 And here is a picture of some new friends! On my flight to Cincinnati, I met a girl from Saudi Arabia who will be attending the university in Cincinnati. We are both 24 and hit it off right away. She explained how it was very sad for her to leave all of her friends at home, so she was glad to have now met her first friend in the States. After we got off the plane, she introduced me to her whole family. It was so obvious to me that the Lord had coordinated that meeting, and I hope it works for us to meet up again next time I am in Cincinnati. Praise the Lord for the good conversations He arranges on airplanes!

20130604_143610_21317 While I was in the Cincinnati area I took a couple days to volunteer at the museum. If I didn’t have other obligations at home, I’d do this more because I am always blessed by the time I spend helping out at the Creation Museum [smile]. Here in the warehouse we were working on materials included in the VBS curriculum.

20130605_144753_21337 Here’s a behind the scenes glimpse of a brainstorming session in an Answers in Genesis office. They were discussing ideas for the banner that Dan Lietha (AiG Cartoonist) is designing for the AiG booth at the National Educator’s Convention this year. Each year they create a different banner, and I think this one is going to be great. (Please pray for that outreach, by the way.) See last year’s report here.

20130603_154932_21307 One of the highlights of my trip to Cincinnati was spending time witnessing at a park with this group of young people. Most of them had never done anything like this before. We had a quick training time, paired up, and went out to try to get into conversations. We used questionnaires and/or gospel tracts or to help in starting discussions. I admit, I was a bit apprehensive about how it would all turn out, but everyone came back with smiles, laughter, and good reports. Praise the Lord!

I was paired together with Aaron, a fourteen-yr-old with a real enthusiasm for learning to witness. This was the first time he had actually gone witnessing in a public place, and I was praying the Lord would give us a good conversation that we could learn from.

Aaron and I found a guy who was willing to talk and called himself a “Deist.” He had some Bible knowledge and a lot of “issues” with what he saw in the Bible. He kept bringing up topics such as the Levitical dietary laws, making comments like “remember you’re quoting from the book that calls shrimp an abomination.” [smile] While not wanting to entirely avoid his arguments, I was also trying to get to the heart of the matter—sin and the good news of the gospel—because I knew we had limited time. So we began discussing sin, and I tried to gently convince him of his need for a Savior.

As we were discussing this, several other guys came and sat down on the grass to listen. Eventually, I turned to them and asked what they thought.
One of them stood up and stated, “I’m an Odinist.” He seemed to enjoy this opportunity to see my response to his beliefs.
“Oh. What’s that?” I asked, looking up at him.
“She doesn’t even know,” they laughed.
“I worship Thor,” he explained.
“Oh… I think I kind of get it now,” I said, smiling.
I decided he looked kind of like a Viking, the more I thought about it. [smile]
Hmmm….. this conversation just keeps getting more interesting.
“Your people killed thousands of my people,” he continued, looking down at me with a stern expression. “And you are just the same as they were … judgmental.”

I guess my emphasis on explaining sin to the Deist guy was making the Odinist guy very uncomfortable. That was probably a good thing, but all the same, I felt I should clarify my motives.

“You know, I think I may have given the wrong impression, because that’s not my heart at all,” I explained. “I’ve sinned too, and I’m just trying to explain how much we need a Savior. I’m really sorry if I came across wrong!”
“You’re fine” the Deist said coolly.

“So. You believe the world is 6,000 years old?” the Odinist asked condescendingly.
“Uh, yeah! I do! Have you guys been to the Creation Museum? It’s right here in town … ” I smiled.
“Well, there are ancient documents in China that are 12,000 years old,” they replied.
Of course, I challenged that, but they were insistent, so I said we’d look it up.
I left them with a few tracts and a DVD. Although they didn’t act receptive, who knows what God is doing in their hearts!

As we were walking away, I told Aaron, “I hope this conversation doesn’t intimidate you, because not everyone is like them…”
But you know what, I think the opposite was true. It didn’t intimidate Aaron, it actually aroused excitement for all of us. We knew the Lord had been arranging our steps.

It’s a relief to realize that there’s no need to be afraid of encountering new beliefs or arguments. (There will always be more of them!) And there’s no need to answer every question we are asked. We can simply enjoy the process of interacting with people, learning about them, asking them questions, and sharing the truth that we do know with humility and graciousness.

20130619_102540_21478
Back home at the Bright Lights office (where I am now), we have a lot going on as we are leaving in 5 days for a 3 week conference trip. We are VERY grateful for the help of Anna and Michelle (pictured above) who flew in early to help us before the conferences. (We are also very grateful for Claire who was here earlier.)