I came into a great realization 2 days ago as I sat reading on the dark leather chairs under the windows at Starbucks on 78th Street in West Vancouver. It happened in a manner in which I would have not expected such a revelation to come upon me.
Until that crisp Saturday morning, nobody had ever shared the Gospel with me. Now you see, I knew of Jesus from a very young age, as I was blessed to have been raised in a “Christian home”, where my mother and father taught me about Jesus, and prayed with me as a child to ask him into my heart. But as I sat there reading the other day, It struck me that nobody who was a stranger to me, up till that moment, had ever sat down and simply shared the Gospel with me.
Nobody had ever “witnessed” to me.
As I sat in that overly busy coffee shop trying to focus on the words of my book, I was surrounded by a transient crowd of coffee drinkers. The nonstop movement around me was soothing to me. I seem to focus best when there is a pattern of chaos happening around me. There were a few people who came and went from the chair to my right. One man came in, sat for a while, and left. He had looked homeless and wore gloves that bore the marks of age. I remember thinking that he should throw them away and invest in a new pair until I realized he likely didn’t have much else to his name. I remember thinking “I should have spoken to that man.” And I wondered if I had missed an opportunity to share the good news.
Next came an older man with a silly hat. He wore a fleece vest with some markings, and a flannel shirt tucked into his oversized blue jeans. He seemed respectable and accomplished, yet showed very little concern for what others thought of his appearance or actions. He set his coffee on the end table and dropped into the chair, and I glanced over at him and gave a polite smile. He smiled back and gave me a friendly nod, and I quickly returned my eyes to the pages of my book.
Every time I would glance over – he would quickly acknowledge my existence with a smile. He seemed to have forgotten his own reading material at home. On this particular day, I remember thinking of all these people coming and going simply as background noise. They were the ambiance that would allow me to get lost in the pages of what I was reading and would allow me the obscurity enough to disappear into my studies. But I could tell – the odds were high that this gentleman was going to cause a disruption to that plan.
Now, I often speak of the intentionality we must use as a Christian, and the way in which we should capitalize on the seemingly divine appointments of encountering people. So, with reluctance, I closed the book, and asked the man in the silly hat how his day was going. I figured I would oblige a few moments of conversation – then return quickly to my reading. I had after all come with a purpose of my own. I wanted to study and write.
WIthin moments of acknowledging the man, the conversation quickly took flight. He almost immedietly told me about how he was a deacon at his church… and he began to dive into all kinds of information and knowledge of the Gospel. I realized at that moment – that I was being witnessed to by someone who had a real understanding of what Jesus did on the cross. So I sat back, and let him tell me everything.
I listened as the 77 year old man told me about his conversion at age 32. Of how he had met Jesus while driving his work truck back towards Vancouver in 1958. He bounced from topic to topic. Talking about everything from Noah and the ark, to Jesus on the cross. This man had something to tell me – and while it may not have been the most eloquent presentation I’ve ever heard – he was not going to miss out on the opportunity to engage with me. He was looking for the chance to share, and all it took for him to jump on it was a smile and a brief relent of my time.
At some point as he spoke, I told him that I had been a believer since childhood, and that I was blessed to have a rich and real understanding of Jesus and what he did. At which time the conversation took a new form, as we spoke of many things. Including topics ranging from ministry, to life, and various other topics in the Bible.
I must admit, that through a lot of the conversation however, I was spending much of my time thinking to myself. I began to think about how in my 28 years of life, I couldn’t recall a single time when a person who simply believed in Jesus Christ being the sacrifice for my sins, had sat down, and just shared the Gospel with me! It may have been the very first time in my life that somebody told me about Jesus while assuming that I might have no knowledge of him whatsoever.
If I had come from a different background, Saturday might have been my very first encounter with the Gospel. Ever.
It might have been the very first time that anybody on this earth had presented me with the knowledge of who Jesus is, and what He did for me!
That thought created two contrasting emotions in me almost simultaneously.
I became excited as I thought about how this man, at 77 years old, had yet to let his retirement diminish his purpose. He clearly still understood that his calling was to share Jesus, and he was living out that calling. (Let it be known, that when I reach that age, I pray I still hold the passion to walk into coffee shops and search out people with whom I may share the hope of Jesus.) This man walked right in, and went to work fulfilling the great commission. I was his target.
At that same moment however, I also became incredibly saddened by the thought that there are literally still millions of people in this world, who may have already walked a good portion of their short life, but have yet to have any one person present the Gospel to them.
I realized Saturday – It took 28 years for somebody I didn’t know to tell me about Jesus.
Don’t let another day go by where you miss the chance to bring that life changing news to somebody.
Join me, and let’s GO. So the whole world may know.