Real Conversations

Here’s a few highlights from my week in The City. These notes represent long conversations I (or my teammates) had with each person.

Natasha was sitting on a bench. She is 18 and visiting from out of state. She listened to the gospel and took a gospel of John.

Balram was working the parking lot. He is from India and is a “new age” Hindu (a Hare Krishna). He started out mocking and scoffing, but after hearing the Law he sobered up quite a bit in his attitude. He quietly listened to the gospel. When he got a gospel book, he opened it up and started to intently read it.

Shirin was sitting on a bench with her daughter and granddaughter. We chatted a bit. She is visiting them from Iran, and she listened to the gospel. She got a Jesus CD in Farsi/Arabic. They are going to watch it as a family.

Ahmed is from Morocco: he was driving a tour tricycle. He thinks he’s a good person. He was laughing and mocking Christ.

Johan was working a booth but we talked for a while in Spanish (sort of) and he took a Spanish gospel book.

There were two homeless men sitting together. They were both deep in the occult and one is a witch. They were defending and excusing themselves. Their consciences were seared.

Emani is a student at UCSC working on his advanced Business degree. He grew up in Oakland in “the ghetto” as he put it. He said he saw many terrible things on the street there, including his friend who got shot in the head, and survived. He said he had plans for his future: get an education, become a businessman, become successful and buy a big house in Oregon for his future family. He was challenged to consider his future beyond all that; to consider eternity and his standing before God. He had never considered that and was very open to hearing the gospel. You could see conviction on his face concerning sin. When he heard the gospel he was very joyful. He said that he had never heard it before. He asked me if I had a Bible for him, and we got him one. He went on his way joyful, saying he was going to go home to the privacy of his room and talk to God in prayer. I’m hoping and trusting that he experienced repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.

Kyle and Ryan are 20, runaways, homeless, on drugs, aimless, and they were hungry. They broke my heart. We were amazed at their openness to talking with us and listening to the gospel. They also took Bibles and we loved on them the best we could while we were talking with them on the corner.

Cookie left home (and children) 20 years ago because her husband was beating her, and her mother would not take her back in. She has been living “homeless” on Mission all these years, being uncared for, and terribly hurt. After talking about her life, we talked about the situation that is worse than human hurts, which is our debt we owe to the Creator of the universe. I told her how God is just, and will deal with all the injustice she has suffered at the hands of evil men. She wanted to know if God would forgive terrible sins. I shared the gospel (repentance from sin and faith in Jesus) and told her God can and will forgive anything and anyone (through faith) based on the death and resurrection of Christ. She was so happy to hear this she started to cry. She thought that she was “unforgivable”. She was so happy to hear that God loves, forgives and gives grace. She wanted a Bible so she got one and she also said she was going to go talk to God in prayer privately.

Roosevelt was a man sitting at an outside cafe table. He was telling me how sad he was that his ex-wife was keeping his son from him, so he could not have a relationship with him. He was also homeless and had no way of getting back east to see his son. Talking about sadness and sorrow was what brought our conversation around to talking about God. He also listened to the gospel and received gospel material to take home. He also said that he had never heard the gospel before. He was very humble and open in his attitude and seemed to understand about the hope we have in Christ.

Greg was the teen I talked to while Ryan was talking to his friend Nick. Unlike Nick, Greg was not boasting in his sin, shame and pride, but was more humble and genuinely open to eternal matters. He had many questions about redemption and the atonement, and listened with an open attitude to the gospel. He was not mocking or scoffing as I shared with him, just “wondering” about the ultimate issues. He left our conversation with gospel materials that he wanted, and glad that we talked.

Amira was sitting on a bench waiting for her family. She was visiting from Iraq and had just enough English for us to communicate a bit. She was pretty interested when I tossed out a few Arabic words and began speaking to her of Jesus the Messiah. I had another copy of Jesus CD in Arabic/Farsi (and 10 other middle eastern languages) which she was happy to receive. Yes she was Muslim and she said she would watch the movie with her family.

Alyssa is 16 and a local. Somehow we got started talking and I ended up telling her my Catholic girl testimony which really interested her, since that is what she is. Her boyfriend wandered away, but she stood perfectly still while she listened to how God saved me, and also to the gospel. She was humble and open to the message. She took a gospel book and CD, and left very glad.

Coda is 19, from out of state, and was pretending to be homeless for a joke. We sat down next to him and Jeff Baron engaged him in conversation for a while. Somewhat familiar with cultural “Christianity”, he wanted to know how to be saved and he listened with a humble, open attitude while Jeff shared the gospel with him.

Rajind was sitting on a bench in Sproul plaza, and we sat down next to him and started a conversation. Jeff talked with him for a long time. He was from India and had one cultural “Christian” parent and one Hindu parent. He was telling us what his favorite Hindu gods were, but he was also very familiar with Bible history & people (Bible stories). He was very open and talked with Jeff a while and listened to the gospel. After Jeff and Jessi started talking to another girl who came up to ask them about God (since she was listening), Rajind asked me what God did in my life to make this a real thing for me. So I got to tell him my testimony. We also had a discussion of the difference between having a redemptive relationship with God by faith in Jesus, versus cultural Christianity and cultural theocracy (fake Christianity married to the State). He was interested in the fact that God is redeeming a people for Himself out of every people group on earth.

Cindy and Katherine came up to Jessi and I to ask us to do the “social science quesion” opinion poll, which I guess is for English class. Turns out these girls were still in high school and were visiting from Taiwan. We answered their poll (which was about Feminism and equal rights) and then surprised them with Chinese gospels. I believe Jessi had an English-Chinese gospel that they were very happy to get.

Edwin was 19 and hanging out skateboarding. Again God provided the divine appointment, and soon we were talking about what he was going to do after he learned a trade and began to work and support a family eventually. We had a great convo about being ready to stand before God, and having the righteousness of God which comes by faith in Jesus Christ. He listened openly and happily to the gospel, took a gospel music CD (shai linne) and left me saying he would be sharing this good news with his friends.

Matt is from out of state and living on the streets. He is struggling to get away from drugs and his drug using friends, and find new friends. Jeff Baron talked with him and prayed with him. We are all going to call him and love on him. I think Jeff is going to keep in touch with him.

Well those are the ones I can remember. Praise God. Oh yes! I got back Saturday night, and on Sunday, the Lord brought Ryan (a different Ryan-around 20 years old) to my fellowship. He had many questions and also wanted to hear how we can be right with God. Ryan wanted a Bible and got one (a NT). God is so good! I hope he visits again soon.

Check out my slideshow pics HERE.

And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed. Acts 13:48.

Outreach in The City

We had a great week up in The City. Started the week in worship with Park Presidio Bible church on 10th Ave. in the morning, and Casa de Refugio Iglesia on Market St. in the afternoon. It was a joy to sing in Spanish, and a young woman even came and translated the whole sermon. The neat thing was that the message from both churches was about being a bold witness of the gospel, from different passages in the book of Acts. Both churches also preached against false teaching, and also declared the lateness of the hour, prophetically speaking. Very different churches, same biblical messages!

Monday, we spent the day on Fisherman’s Wharf. Tuesday, we were on Telegraph and Haste in Berkeley and later we hung out on 16th and Mission. Wednesday we were at Haight & Ashbury/Masonic and our dear brothers Paul Kaiser and the young man he is discipling, Ryan, came down to join us. That night we went down to Haight & Stanyan. Thursday we went to Fisherman’s Wharf again and Friday we were at Berkeley again, but up on the campus at Sproul plaza. Saturday we spent all day at UN Plaza, then we went out to Chinese for dinner before heading home on BART.

Everybody ministered the gospel in slightly different styles, of course. Some gave out printed or audio gospel material, some played music and sang, some preached open air, some read passages of scripture from the Bible, but mostly, we engaged people in dozens of one on one conversations where the law and the gospel were boldly, respectfully and joyfully shared.

Of course I have some conversations I’d love to tell you about, and photos to upload, but first I think I’ll get some sleep. Until then, here’s some video from our day working with Paul on Haight & Ashbury. (Warning: videos are rated R for language.)

In this video, Jessi is videotaping while Ryan talks to Nick Pt.1. A few feet away in the background, I’m talking to Nick’s friend Greg.

In this video, Paul is doing some old fashioned street preaching & apologetics; engaging hecklers, mockers and those with genuine questions in conversation as the opportunity arises.

In this video, here is more of Paul engaging a man with the truth of God’s Word.

In this video, Ryan is preaching his heart out while I videotape. The enemy sure did not like his preaching. There was a bit of spiritual reaction to the Truth. His message turned out to be 90% law and 10% grace due to the pride and hard hearts of the hearers. Regardless of the response of people, seeds are sown, and God is always glorified in the proclamation of the gospel and the exalting of Christ.

Don’t be discouraged by these videos! The wind of God’s Spirit blows where it wills, and nothing is too hard for the Lord. Here is a timely and encouraging reminder of this great truth.

Audio: Is Anything Too Hard for the Lord? by John Piper

What is going on in the minds of the people in these videos as well as those we witness to at work, on the street or at the family reunion picnic? This message teaches us the theological truth from Romans 1 about how people already know God exists, that God’s standards exist and that their sinful acts deserve death. Listen to find out the encouraging way this truth helps us in our witnessing to them, so we can have courage and bold confidence in our gospel sharing.

Audio: Doing and Endorsing Evil, by John Piper

Here is Ryan and Nick, Pt.2

Ryan talks with Nick, with Paul and Jessi also contributing. Here is the summary from Paul Kaiser:

“Bro. Ryan continues to reason with Nick and we begin to clearly see what it is that Nick holds so dear. He loves his sin and is blinded by his own pride. Please pray that God will be merciful and grant Nick repentance.”

Here is Paul Kaiser’s report on The Reformed Evangelist: The Haight-Ashbury Experience.