Month: May 2010

Witnessing Stories


Sometimes it’s easy to make excuses not to witness when it doesn’t fit in perfectly with our schedule. But if Jesus was “about His Father’s business” when He was 12 (Luke 2:49), that should be our daily goal, too! (Big challenge to myself!) Thankfully, the Lord is faithful to guide and provide. A few weeks ago as I was driving home, I noticed some teens at the park by my house and wished I could witness to them. The only problem was that my mom said supper was going to be at 6:45 and it was already almost 7pm. But when I arrived home, my (flexible!) mom said it would be okay to wait, so I grabbed my purse and drove back to the park.

I approached a teenage girl walking towards the merry-go-round. “Here – something for you,” I told her, handing her this tract which has a picture of the Sun and the size of the earth in contrast. She thought it was cool and began looking at it right away. I asked her what she thought happened when we die. Before she could answer, a few of her friends joined the conversation so I gave each of them the same tract and asked them the same question.

Her friend with blue hair, Alexis, (about 13 yrs), looked really familiar. Then she exclaimed, “I’ve been running into this everywhere [people sharing the gospel] … at the mall, at Marion Downtown…”
“Well maybe God’s trying to get your attention!” I suggested.
“Yeah, maybe…” she agreed, “because I’ve stopped going to church.”

They all thought that you get to Heaven by “being good,” so I walked them through the 10 Commandments to see how good they really were. They all readily agreed that they had lied, stolen, lusted, taken God’s name in vain, and dishonored their parents. I could see the look of conviction in their eyes. They agreed with me that death could happen at anytime and the worst thing that could possibly happen to someone would be to go to hell.
“So if you died tonight, would you go to Heaven or Hell?” I asked them.
“I don’t know,” one girl said. (They weren’t offended by my question; they were intrigued. People appreciate truth when it’s spoken lovingly.)
Her friend turned to her and said, “I think you would go to Heaven. God forgives!”
“But if you were standing in court and had committed a crime,” I explained, “You couldn’t just say to the judge, ‘but won’t you just forgive me?’ and expect the judge to say ‘Okay, sure! Goodbye!’ could you? No, the judge has to punish the crime, right?! Otherwise he wouldn’t be a good judge! In the same way, God has to punish sin–-and the punishment for sin is hell.”
“Then everyone is going to hell,” they said.
“Except,” I clarified, “There is one Way—a narrow path—that God provided for those who want to go to Heaven.”
We continued talking. I didn’t want to give them the truth about Jesus until they were ready to receive it. I told them that the only reason I was talking to them was becuase I cared about them. They responded well to that.
Soon Josh interrupted, “So what’s this ‘path thing’, like, to Heaven, that you were talking about?” he asked with sincere urgency in his voice.
“Well,” I answered, “first we need to understand that we cannot get to Heaven on our own or by being ‘good enough.’”
“Yeah, I know that,” he agreed.

“Ok, well then, because God loved you, Josh,” I explained, “He decided to punish Himself for your sin. That’s why Jesus died on the cross. God became a man, Jesus, and died a horrible bloody death on the cross. And God put on Jesus your sin, and also the sin of the whole world.”
“That must have been pretty heavy,” Josh remarked.
“Yeah!” I agreed with a smile and continued to explain how Jesus rose again and is alive now and will come back one day.
“Ok,” Josh interrupted me again, anxiously, “I just need to know the way to get to Heaven. Do you have like, a pamphlet or anything that explains it?”
(Hmm… do I have a pamplet that explains it….?! )
“Ok, well to find the answer,” I told him, “You have to go to the Bible. Don’t trust what people tell you—you have to see what God says. And the Bible says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son–” and then Josh began to quote along with me!
“You know John 3:16?” I asked in suprise, “Ok, well then you already know the answer: that whosever believes in Him should not perish…” I emphasized.
Believes in Him” Josh repeated to himself, trying to understand what he needed to do.
“But it’s not simply ‘believing in God,’” I clarified, “Even demons believe that He exists—and tremble. It’s like putting on a parachute,” I explained. “You can believe the parachute will save you, but it won’t actually save you until you put it on. It’s the same way with Jesus. You have to trust what He did for you on the cross and ask Him to save you.”

I gave Josh some tracts and told him of a good website to go to.

Josh’s sincerity seemed to be rubbing off on the other three, too. They went from just being silly to asking me serious questions about Catholicism and some other things. I was surprised to learn that all three other girls also knew John 3:16. I told them, “You guys live in America and are so blessed to have this information about God and the way to Heaven. But if you keep rejecting it, there will come a time when it’s too late and there are no more chances.”
I instructed them that when they went to bed that night (or before) that they needed to get alone with God and ask Him for the gift of eternal life. They seemed to indicate that they would — especially Josh. I asked if I could pray for them right now and they wanted me to.

We talked about what it means to be “born” into God’s family, about the joy of knowing our Creator, about how being a Christian wasn’t always easy, and about how reading the Bible was a necessity. They also liked the idea of getting together for a group Bible study and entered my cell phone number into their cell phones. I assured them they could call or text me with any more questions.
“Thank you so much for talking with us!” they said warmly.

I arrived home at about 8pm to find that my (wonderful) family who had waited for me for dinner and was excited to hear the report.

I was at the park again recently and noticed some kids eating sandwiches on the playground equipment. As I got closer I saw it was Josh and Alexis again!
“Hey guys!” I said.
They were very friendly. I asked them if they had thought more about what we talked about that one night.
They nodded “yes,” and Josh said, “I’ve just been trying to respect God a lot more in what I do…”
I wondered what he meant by that. I explained again about how Jesus told us we need to be “born again” and that it is usually a specific “one time occurrence” that someone asks God to save them. I asked if they had done that.
Josh told me that he had “asked God to be his Savior,” got baptized a few weeks ago, and has been reading his Bible. “Thank you again for talking with me that one night” he said, looking me in the eye.

I can’t say if Josh truly became a believer or not, but he certainly had a sincerity about him. I don’t think his church situation is very good and he certainly needs much more Christian influence in his life. I reminded Josh and Alexis that they needed to keep reading the Bible because it’s like food (“just like the sandwiches you are eating now”) and they need to read the Bible to grow.

Josh was also anxious to receive a “One Heartbeat Away” book. (And his friend Alexis asked him to pass the book to her when she was done with it.)

Please pray for Josh and Alexis!

Bright Lights Local Group

We Have a Reasonable Faith!

Sarah teaching Bright Lights last Monday night on how to answer some “tough” questions:

“Where did Cain Get His Wife?”

“If we all go back to one man and one woman, how’d we get so many different ‘races’?”

“How do you explain finding fossils that some people say date back over 300 million years, if the Bible is correct and the earth is young?”

“Since numerous apelike fossils have been found of what some scientists say are human ancestors, doesn’t this prove that man has evolved?”

All these questions have simple answers! We as Christians don’t simply have “blind faith,” that the Bible is true, we have a reasonable faith that we can explain! In fact, everything we see in science, geology, archeology, chemistry, etc. is consistent with what the Bible has already stated to be true.

In our Bright Lights and Light Shop groups over the summer, Sarah and Stephen are going to take some time at each meeting to teach simple, easy-to-recall answers to a variety of tough questions. It’s going to be a fun challenge!

For all of you who don’t attend Bright Lights or Light Shop, let me encourage you to take the time to learn these answers too! If you are an “audio learner” like me, you may find it helpful to listen to some of Answers in Genesis online videos. One idea is to listen to them while you are organizing your room (makes it a little more fun, at least!), washing dishes, etc.

“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” (1 Peter 3:15)

Homeschool Conferences/Witnessing Stories

Pennsylvania Home School Conference

Setting up! Dad always comes up with creative ways to put up our signs…

We had a wonderful time at the conference and enjoyed meeting lots of great Pennsylvania homeschool families!

Our presentation on “How Every Family Can Have a Family Ministry”

Talking with homeschool moms and dads

Speaking on “Making Brothers and Sisters Best Friends”

Aw, what a fun dad…

Mom talking with other mothers… (Btw, Happy Mother’s Day, Mom! Thank you for the innumerable amount of things you do to keep our family going!!)

Elizabeth Florio, Sarah, Jenny Florio, and Becky Florio. The Florios now run two Bright Lights groups and they have represented Bright Lights several times at the PA Homeschool conference for us. We enjoyed the time we were able to spend with them over the weekend!

Friday evening we ate at Cracker Barrel with the Florio and Moberg families. Michelle Moberg (right) has also just started a Bright Lights group. Here at the girls’ table we got into a great talk with our waitress. I asked her, “Hey, I have an interesting question for you.”
“Okay,” she said.
“Do you think going to Heaven is a free gift or something you have to earn?”
She replied that she believes in a kind of reincarnation where you get reincarnated several times and then eventually end up in heaven.
“So when you finally get to heaven are you in your ‘human form’ again?” I asked.
“Hmm…good question. I guess I’ve never thought about that,” she said.
“Well some people believe that in the Karmic circle you eventually just become sort of ‘one with the universe’ …is that what you believe?”
“Yeah, I think that’s more what I believe. Eventually I’ll just become ‘energy’.”
“Interesting…” I said.
“My relatives and I debate this all the time…but no one really knows so we just always keep going in circles,” she told me.
“Well, it’s important stuff to talk about,” I agreed.
“So what do you believe? I’m curious now!” she asked.
“Well, I’d like to tell you, but I also know you are on the job and I don’t want to take your time…” I said.
“I’ll tell you what,” she replied. “I only have one other table. I’ll go take care of them and then come back!”
“Ok, sounds good!” I replied.
After a few minutes she came back, ready to hear whatever I had to say.
“Well, first of all, I think this world was designed. I think it’s obvious by looking around and seeing the beauty and complexity around us.” I gave some examples. She definitely agreed with that point.
“So then the big question is: Who made us and why,” I said.
She agreed.
“Well, I’ve come to conclude there are a lot of reasons to believe the Bible,” I explained, beginning to list some of them.
“Oh, I’ve read the Bible,” she said. “But I just don’t think I completely agree with it.”
She explained how one thing she had a big problem with is how someone could live a rotten life and then on their deathbed say “I’m sorry” to God and be able to go to Heaven. She recounted how every Sunday afternoon some pastor’s kids come in to eat and they’ve made some really rude comments to her.
I agreed with her that many call themselves Christians but do not act like Christ.
“When people become a Christian, their life should show it,” I said.
She definitely agreed.
“But just because people mess up and make mistakes doesn’t mean that what God told us in the Bible isn’t true,” I told her.
She nodded.
I mentioned how God has to punish evil because He is just and good—but also that the principle of “mercy” is a beautiful thing and God can show mercy if He wants to. Mercy is never “deserved” otherwise it wouldn’t be mercy! And really, we all need God’s mercy. We’ve all broken God’s law.”
“Yeah, and that’s what makes me tend to believe more in the reincarnation thing…” she said, “Because I know I mess up and with reincarnation you have the chance to start over and keep trying…”
We must have talked for at least 15 minutes. I mentioned how ultimately God decides what happens–not us.
Another thing she brought up is how she can’t understand how God seems so “harsh” in the O.T. and then so “mild” in the new.
“One thing that helps me,” I told her “is to look at it this way: Jesus is the exact representation of God. When God became a man we were able to get a better picture of what He was really like.” I explained how in Jesus we see God’s holiness and justice, but also God’s desire to heal and show mercy.
“Hmm, I’ve never thought of it that way before,” she responded.
“But it’s in the cross that we really see God’s justice and love together,” I said. “Because we see God punishing sin—but He didn’t punish us. He punished Himself so He could then give mercy to us.”
I asked her if she liked to read.
“I LOVE to read,” she said.
I gave her a copy of One Heartbeat Away. “It’s definitely Christian and it’s very straight forward,” I explained, “ but I like the way he reasons and logically presents the facts.”
As we were leaving she came up and told me, “My friend was looking at the book in the kitchen and she wants to read it. She said she really liked the way it was written. So now I’m going to have to share it,” she complained, jokingly.
I went out to the van and got another book for her friend. Then I said goodbye to our waitress for the last time.
“You made my night!” she said, giving me a hug, and telling me how much she enjoyed “debating” with us. I told her that we really enjoyed it too. She promised to e-mail me when she finished the book.

Witnessing Stories

Afternoon of Witnessing

This afternoon we went to a little festival at a nearby small town to go witnessing. Before we left we took some time to watch some witnessing video clips and talked about how to answer the question “How do you know the Bible is true?” We were trying to write some simple answers to this question on a 3×5 cards to carry with us. (But, of course, we found there were way too many answers to fit them onto a 3×5 card!)

We had a great team! The event we went to was called “Chalk the Walk” where artists draw fancy artwork on the streets with sidewalk chalk. There were lots of people standing around and it was a perfect place for witnessing.

It was so neat to look around and see witnessing conversations happening up and down the street… 🙂

Allison and Carrissa …what can I say? As you can see by their expressions, they were thorougly enjoying the afternoon of witnessing! I don’t think they are afraid of anything, and when you combine them and tell them to go witness…watch out! 🙂

Overall, we all got some good practice and were able to have many good conversations. We pray the Lord will cause those seeds to grow!

“They said this…so I said this…and they said this…” we always enjoy coming back and discussing the conversations we had and the responses we received.

Stephanie (blue) has been a big encouragement to me as she has often asked me “when are you going to plan another witnessing event?” And it’s neat to watch Stephanie becoming a great witnesser! Morgan (pink) came for the first time today and just jumped right in. It was a blessing having her with us!