St Patrick’s Day Report

Wednesday, March 17th was a full day! It started in our church basement where we folded 4,000 tracts while having an evangelism training time. We had two goals: 1) Distribute the tracts, 2) Get into one-on-one conversations with people in the crowd.

Getting into one-on-one conversations about the gospel isn’t as hard as many imagine. We watched some Way of the Master Youtube Clips for ideas, shared some stories, and printed up a “St Patrick’s Survey” to help with starting conversations.

Getting ready to head downtown!

It is so easy to pass out tracts at parades. Everyone is expecting to be handed stuff. We just announce “history of St Patrick!” as we’re passing them out and it’s a lot of fun. People are curious about who St Patrick really was.

Carissa talked with these three teens for over 20 minutes. She did an amazing job with one-on-one conversations!

I had to take a picture of Carissa with her survey paper because it was so wrinkled from use. Carissa is eleven, and she had never really done “witnessing” this way before. But wow, did she take off! From what I was told, she was explaining the gospel to people left and right and when it was over she didn’t want to leave. Praise God for how He is working through Carissa!

One of the highlights was working with a team of 9 college students who joined our group at the last minute. They were in the area using their spring break for service / evangelism projects. It was a huge blessing having the extra help!

During our sharing time afterwards, many reported about the neat conversations they got into and the thirsting hearts they were able to share the gospel with. We decided to add up how many people total we were able to actually talk with about the gospel. The total came to 160! That means that 160 people at the parade had a one-on-one encounter with a Christian about the gospel. Praise the Lord for how he arranged these conversations!

Afterwards we enjoyed exchanging ideas and tracts with the college students who joined us.

We concluded the day tired out, but so happy. It was encouraging to see some who hadn’t done very much witnessing catch a zeal for sharing the gospel. It was also neat to see how many more you can reach when you mobilize a whole team to go out. There is a fellowship in sharing the gospel together that doesn’t compare with anything else!

St Patrick’s Day – Begin using it for the Lord!

Karissa passing out tracts at the parade last year

St Patrick’s day is a time when crowds line the streets anxious to be handed anything. Candy, pencils, toys, or tracts:). It is such a great opportunity. The tract we use explains the story of St. Patrick and includes the gospel. St. Patrick was actually a great missionary and the two letters he wrote (that still exist) are mostly quoting Paul. We simply go up and down the streets passing out the tracts and saying, “History of Saint Patrick!” It’s so much fun!! 🙂 It’s also a great time to get into one-on-one conversations with people who are just standing around.

Our “St Patrick’s team” from last year

Sharing stories and reports after the parade

If you live near Cedar Rapids you are welcome to join us! This year, we are meeting first at our church at 9:00AM for some evangelism training. Then we will divide into teams and head downtown. It will be an exciting day. Contact us for more info.

For those who live further away, you are welcome to use our tract and distribute them at the parade in your city. Click here to view tract. Don’t forget to print it on green paper (preferably light green).

Even if you aren’t able to go to a parade, you can still print off some tracts to pass out to those you come in contact with between now and the 17th. Stores are already making a big deal of St. Patrick’s day–so we should take advantage of it too!

Note: The tract is a PDF file and will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to open it. Click here to download a free version of Adobe Reader.

If you’d like to see reports from passing out tracts previous years at the parade, click here or here.

Witnessing at the mall today…

Today Sarah and I went to the mall to witness. I’ll admit, neither of us exactly felt like it beforehand, but afterwards we were SO glad we did. We were able to get into about six conversations with junior high kids and were able to explain the gospel to over a dozen kids. (We’ve found junior high kids are usually the most open and eager to talk.)

We started most of the conversations by using IQ quizzes. The kids thought they were really cool. Then as we walked them through the 10 Commandments and they realized their sin–and how God had to punish sin in order to be just–many began to get very sober. About six of the girls we talked to especially stand out in my mind. They were anxious to hear the way God provided for us to be “reconnected” with Himself. They told me it made sense and that they had never really understood that before. Many of them indicated they’d be interested in learning more and coming to a Bible study if I start one with teen girls there in the mall, and they gave me their phone numbers.

I was reminded — yet again– of how wrong I am to sometimes assume people don’t want to hear about God! These conversations were exciting. Most of the kids we talked with at the mall had no clue why Jesus died on the cross or what it means for them. One boy said, “Yeah, I knew Jesus died on the cross but I never understood why.”
But once they realized the seriousness of their sin (and reality of hell), they wanted to know! They agreed that God must love them a lot if He was willing to die for them.

As we were talking with one group, one of the girls recognized me.
“Remember? We met at Gordmans last week!”
Then I remembered. I had met this friendly girl at Gordman’s and I gave her a tract as we passed in the shoe aisle. How interesting God led me to her again.
“Maybe it’s a sign!” she said.
“Could be!” I agreed.
At least now she knows the gospel more clearly. This has been happening a lot recently–where I run across the same person I witnessed to at another time. It reminds me that we have a big God who is orchestrating everything. I pray I may be alert to His leading and directions!

Please pray for these kids we talked with… that Satan wouldn’t be able to snatch away the seed but that it will penetrate into their hearts and grow. I instructed many of them to kneel beside their bed as they were going to sleep tonight and talk to God about all of this– to ask Him for the gift of salvation, and acknowledge they believed in what Jesus did for them. Many indicated that they wanted to. Please pray they would and they would start reading their Bibles.

Sorry for the lack of pictures in this post. I forgot to take any. Maybe next time.

A Special Advantage

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As I exited a building yesterday afternoon I turned and saw a man sitting against the wall eating his lunch in the sunshine.
“Hi!” I said and smiled, a little startled to see him there.
“Hi!” he replied, surprised by my greeting.
I kept walking.
You know, that man didn’t look too busy, I realized, I think he’d read something if I gave it to him. I walked back and handed him a little tract called “Something to Think About.”
“Here’s something for you to read when you finish eating your lunch,” I told him.
“Thank you!” he said.
I turned to leave.
“Now wait,” he asked, “what is this?”
“It’s a Christian gospel tract,” I said. “I like it because it clearly explains things that we all need to be thinking about.”
“Oh, okay!” he replied. He was fine with that.
“Have a good day!” he told me.

I am recounting this little story to illustrate a few points about passing out tracts.

1) It’s very helpful to be confident to be upfront about what we are handing people—a gospel tract. People like it when we are honest and call it what it is. If we act timid and shy, they’ll feel uncomfortable too.

2) I think young people (especially girls) have an advantage when it comes to passing out tracts because people aren’t intimidated by them. What I mean is this: if my dad would have gone up and given this man the tract, he may not have reacted as warmly. But if a girl cheerfully greets someone and gives them a tract, they almost always receive it. In fact, sometimes it makes their day! But it is also important to be wise about who you talk with and be safe.

So, girls, we have the responsibility to do what we can do and to do it well. And to do it faithfully.

A few weeks ago, I was walking near our town square with a 15-year-old friend. I saw a girl smoking by the side of the street and thought of giving her a tract but didn’t. Before I knew it, my friend had pulled out a tract and given it to her. And then my friend, (Rachel, from a missionary family who was staying with us for a few days) continued to give out tracts to everyone we passed on the street. I was impressed! No one was annoyed or offended…instead they all responded well and thanked her for the tracts.

I think Satan tries to decieve Christians into thinking that people will be offended if given a tract. Some may be, but most are not.

Sidewalks are public property. You can pass out anything you want. In this country of increasing darkness, let’s learn to take advantage of every opportunity!

Gas Station Clerk and Dinosaurs

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It was late at night when my dad and I stopped at this gas station. (We were on our way home from the Bible Quizzing event.) We walked in and the only one we saw inside was the worker sweeping the floor.

“Hello,” I greeted him as I walked in.
“Hey there,” he said and smiled.
“How are you?” I asked casually.
“Oh, I’m doing fine, thanks,” he replied.
“Is it okay if we use your restroom?” my dad asked.
“Sure, we’re open ‘til eleven!” he replied.
“Ok, thanks!” we said.

As we were leaving, he was standing behind the counter. We greeted him again and I pulled a dinosaur pamphlet out of my purse.
“Here’s something for you to read,” I explained, “We don’t think we came from monkeys…”
He smiled and nodded.
“We think we were created, by God, for a reason. But often people only hear one side of the debate and public schools only teach evolution…” I said.
He commented and agreed.
“…So we are trying to teach the other side,” I said. “And, you know, there is a lot of evidence for design and a Creator. Dinosaurs are one of them,” I mentioned, glancing at the pamphlet I had just laid on his counter. “The Bible actually talks about dinosaurs and there’s evidence that they didn’t live so long ago—but that they lived during the same time as man,” I said.
“Really?” he exclaimed as he raised his eyebrows.
“Yeah, archeologists have actually found fossils of dinosaur bones with blood vessels still preserved in them—which shows us that they couldn’t have been millions of years old like some people say,” I said.

My dad joined the conversation and added, “And, you know, all over the world there are legends of dragons. And they all describe similar things. That’s because those were dinosaurs.”
That made sense to the cashier. He nodded in agreement.
We said a few more things and then left.
“I’m going to read this little booklet!” the cashier warmly told us as we walked out.

Note-
Question: When did this “witnessing encounter” begin? It didn’t begin when we gave him the tract. It began when we walked in and gave him a warm friendly greeting and that opened a door for us to easily converse with him again as we were leaving. It was a good reminder for me to purpose to be friendly everywhere I go.

Making the Most of a Bus Ride!

IMG_5288Micah Noel, Sarah, Bryant

Micah Noel and Bryant were a special part of our team on our last Bright Lights conference trip. After the trip, they took a bus from our house back to their home in Kansas City. They asked to borrow some gospel tracks for the trip home, and we assured them we’d pray for witnessing opportunities for them. But we didn’t know to what extent they really were shining their light until we read the exciting report on Bryant’s blog. We thought you would enjoy it too. Click here to read it.

IMG_5289Micah Noel, Sarah, Bryant, myself

Conversation at the Park

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A few days ago as I was walking through the park I saw a teenage guy and girl sitting on the merry-go-round.
“Hey, here’s a million dollars for you guys,” I said, handing them two million dollar bill tracts.“There’s a ‘million dollar question’ on the back,” I explained. “It’s ‘Will you go to Heaven when you die?’”
Flipping the bill over, they looked at the back and laughed a little – not quite sure how to respond. That didn’t surprise me; I knew that if I acted comfortable and confident, they would probably warm up and become more serious.
“So have you had a Christian background?” I asked.
They said they had.
“What do you think? Are you sure you’ll go to Heaven?”
They nodded hesitantly. They were still going in slow circles on the merry-go-round, which made it a little difficult to speak with them since I was just standing there. 🙂 So finally I just laughed and said, “Okay, I’ll just walk around in circles with you guys”. And at that point they stopped the merry-go-round and gave me their attention.
“So why do you think you’ll go to Heaven?” I asked.
They timidly threw out a few ideas. Samantha said she had been baptized and went to church sometimes, and John said he tried to be good.
“So basically you think you’re good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked.
They grinned awkwardly, not knowing quite how to answer.
“You know, we never know when we are going to die,” I reminded them, “So it’s important that we’re sure we’ll go to Heaven. We don’t like to think about death because it’s sort of scary, but young people die frequently in car accidents and things like that. So let’s just say you got hit by a car tonight, and stood before God and He said, ‘John, (or ‘Samantha’) why should I let you into Heaven?’ What would your answer be?”
They hesitated.
“I know it’s a tough question,” I said.
“Because I try not to be selfish… ?” John replied.
“But how do you know when you’ve been good enough to make it to Heaven?” I asked. “Even though you may not feel that you’re very bad compared to other people,” I continued, “we need to remember that God sees from a different perspective and He has a very high standard – perfection. Even if we’ve only lied once, we’ve already broken His law.”
I had their full attention now.
“If you get a speeding ticket, you have to pay the penalty, right?”
They nodded “yes”.
“And even if you don’t do anything else wrong for the rest of your life, you would still be in trouble with the law, and you would still have to pay the speeding fine.”
They agreed.
“Well, God told us in the Bible that the punishment for sin is death in hell,” I explained, “and if we’ve broken God’s laws we’ll be guilty before Him.”
They were listening very intently now and I saw conviction on their faces.
“So if you died today, are you sure you’d go to heaven or is there a possibility you’d go to hell?”
They both acknowledged there was a possibility they would go to hell.
“So what do you have to do to go to Heaven?” I asked.
They didn’t know.
“Do you want to know?” I asked. “If you want to know I’ll tell you.”
“What do you have to do to go to Heaven?” John asked.
“Well, it’s really about understanding something God did. He came to earth and became a man, Jesus, (who was fully God) and died in our place. We deserved to die for our sin, but on the cross He took the penalty we should have had. It was totally “unfair”, so to speak, because He had done nothing wrong. He was the One who was perfect, and we were the ones who had done wrong (and we did it against Him!) yet He took our penalty. It’s sort of hard to comprehend! But He did it because He loved us. I don’t really know why (what’s so special about us?) but He chose to be merciful to us. So now what we have to do is trust Him and repent from our sin. Do you know what it means to repent?
“Not do it anymore,” John said.
“Right—like a car that does a u-turn.”
He nodded in agreement.
“So, John, you mentioned you had a Christian background. Are your parents Christians?”
“My dad was. He used to read his Bible a lot, but that was before he died.”
“He died? When?”
“Three years ago,” he said.
“I’m sure more than anything else he wanted you to walk with God too,” I mentioned.
He agreed.
“Do you both have Bibles at home?” I asked them.
“Yes,” they said.
“Do you read them?” I asked.
“No,” they replied.
“Do you have your dad’s Bible?” I asked John.
“Yeah,” he said.
“Does it have his writing in it?”
“Yes, I saw some,” he answered.
“That’s really special. I’d really encourage you to get it out and start reading it!” I told him, “And I’d recommend starting in the book of ‘John.’ That shouldn’t be too hard to remember since your name is John. It’s in the second half of the Bible. There’s Matthew, Mark, Luke, and then John,” I explained.
He indicated that he was going to go home and read it. John had really warmed up at this point and was very receptive to everything I was saying.
“There’s really nothing more important than knowing God. Why wouldn’t we want to know our Maker – the God who created the Universe? I mean, if the God who created the universe wants to be our Friend, shouldn’t we want to be His?” I asked.
“That’s true,” John agreed.
“It was really nice talking with you guys,” I told them.
“You too! Now I need to go home and ask for forgiveness,” John said, with a sincere smile.
“Yes—that’s great—do that!” I encouraged him.
I reminded them that Satan would try to distract them and keep them from praying or reading the Bible, and that following God is an uphill climb. “But the good news,” I said, “is that when God is on your side, you have the most powerful Person in the universe helping you.”

Please pray that John will ask for God’s forgiveness and salvation (like he said he would) and that the Lord would bring other Christians along his path to water the seed!

In the Park

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Thanks so much for your prayers. The witnessing went very well last night. It was exciting to see the girls who came with us courageously stepping out and learning to initiate conversations with people.

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Afterward, as we were eating ice cream and sharing stories, we discovered we had collectively witnessed to over 50 people. (That’s more unsaved people than many churches have walk through their doors in a whole year!) It definitely seems to me that we are able to reach the most unsaved people when we go out to where they are and talk with them. We know that the Lord is the One who draws people to Himself, and we are just praying that He continues to work in these people’s lives.

Sharing Jesus Class

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Did you know that in some ways younger girls have an advantage when it comes to sharing the gospel? The reason is this: people are not intimidated by them! Instead, they are impressed by their maturity. If a few sweet, smiley young girls go to the park and take “surveys” (questions about the gospel), people are almost always willing to talk! This is great approach to initiate conversations about Jesus. (And if anyone would like to know what questions we ask in our surveys, feel free to e-mail and ask.)

Last Monday evening a group of young ladies from our Bright Lights group gathered here at the Bright Lights office for a class on evangelism. We discussed various ways to engage people in conversation using tracts, surveys, the “wordless bridge”, etc. Then we divided up and practiced witnessing to each other. I am so excited about their enthusiasm.

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We also watched a little witnessing clip from Way of the Master to learn what to say to atheists.

We’d appreciate prayer tomorrow evening (the 25th) because several of us will be going out witnessing together in the town square. Please pray that the Lord would strengthen and empower each one of us to overcome fear and experience the joy of blessing others with the Good News.

“And Jesus…said, Verily I say unto you, ‘Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.'” Matt 18:3

“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” 1 Tim 4:12

Girls “Fishing Gear”

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Timing makes a difference when you are passing out tracts! –Especially with cashiers. I really like this purse because I can quickly reach in the front flap, grab a tract, and say, “…and here’s something for you!” when the cashier gives me my receipt.

I also like this purse because I can fit so much stuff in it (as I was explaining to my dad and brother this morning, who didn’t seem to quite relate…).

Anyway, a friend from Living Waters recommended this to me, and I wanted to pass along the recommendation. Sometimes I’ve missed a good opportunity just because I couldn’t dig out a gospel tract fast enough. –But not with this purse!

So when we buy purses, let’s think “fishing” more than we think “fashion!”