Archive for March, 2009
- Translating the KJV into tribal languages so that the people are at least close to the sacred nectar of “the unadulterated 1611.”
- Doing everything in the world relating to your “mission” — building outhouses, bettering the schools, distributing Brita filtering systems, but never explaining the gospel! Can I hear Peace Corps?
- Imposing conservative American culture upon 3rd world countries that already have their own traditions.
- Mistaking #3 for the fruits of salvation, i.e. sanctification.
- Not seeking to convert folks to Christianity, because after all, we are all God’s children! Some just have an Islamic, Hindu, or Buddhist way of expressing it.
- Never learning the language of the people. After all, if people really are going to come to Christ, they will be willing to learn English.
This list needs to be expanded. Do you have any?
It’s very late here in the city; the spiritual and physical exhaustion from such an intense week is a reality! I just want to share some evangelistic highlights from the week, as I experienced it:
- For the last several weeks, I prayed that I would be able to share the gospel with a Muslim man and make friends with him as well. God answered on Wednesday night when I shared space on the subway with a Muslim named Sami. During our 20 minute subway ride, we had a fascinating conversation about his hajj, our failure to obey the Torah, assurance of paradise, forgiveness of sins, the person of Jesus, as well as just some time to make friends.
- I got to brush up on my French and speak with people in a limited way, using the French language. I’m so thankful I still remember John 14:6 in French!
- We had the opportunity to speak with some conservative Jews (college students) from here in NYC. I had probably three gospel-oriented conversations with orthodox Jews. I was shocked at how well they knew the Talmud, Mishnah, and Midrash. However, I was equally shocked at how foggy their knowledge of the Tanak was! One individual did not know that both Jeremiah and Ezekiel wrote of a day when God would make a new covenant with his people! Another individual was surprised by the language of Isaiah 53…
- On Sunday I spoke with a Catholic man named Jesus (ironically). He was frustrated by the fact that he continues to sin even though he makes a conscious effort not to. After Emiley and I explained the gospel to him at least three different ways, we asked him if he desired to trust Jesus. He said he did, but was uncertain how he could. After some explanation, I really believe that Jesus is either now a believer or that he will become a believer soon.
I could go on with stories, but the bed beckons. Thanks for your prayers this week!
This week we have been so busy! Yesterday, we spent some time in Flushing (what seemed like a Little Hong Kong) doing some simple tract distribution. I favor relationally-oriented evangelism, but was reminded how God uses other methods and strategies as well. I offered a Chinese man a tract; he asked me to help him read it! We spent the next 15-20 minutes reading the gospel slowly, while I did my best to explain each concept. Pray that Eric will contact me soon; he now has a Bible!
We had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity today; we sang in the middle of Times Square! We sang about six different songs on a rotating basis, while others engaged the listeners with the gospel. Our group spoke with people from Germany, France, Italy, China, Turkey, Greece, Thailand, Barbados, Mexico, and Miami. Of course, that’s just off the top of my head; I’m sure there were more. Here’s some highlights:
- One of the girls in our group was able to speak to a Roman Catholic quite extensively; the man believed the gospel today!
- I was able to, in his own language, share some verses with a French man. At the close of our conversation, Guy told me that he plans to go home to France and purchase a French Bible. He said, “Our conversation confirms in my mind that the Bible is a book I need to read before I die.”
- At least two men heard us from the upper levels of their Manhattan offices and came down just to hear the music. Both men heard the gospel too!
- I am loving getting to spend so much time in fellowship and ministry with other believers!
We were definitely the best-dressed musicians in the area today, since the closest other “musician” is known only by the name “The Naked Cowboy.” What a strange world we live in…a place where a man can show up in essentially his underwear, strum a guitar, make good money, and call it his job!
The question almost haunted me all day. As I walked through NYC — business district, parks, Chinatown, Little Italy — and saw people from every culture imaginable, I simply wondered, “Dave, are you relevant?” I saw about a million obsessively in-shape joggers, a culture with which I am definitely not a part. The homeless, I saw many of course. Businessmen and vendors, again, we saw many. I even saw a man wearing a glorified velvet bathrobe, a wizard hat, and a hopelessly fake wand; he claimed to be the “Dragon Master.”
How could I possibly ever be relevant to a guy who claims to be the “Dragon Master?” I walked through the city, moved with compassion, but growing increasingly discouraged by my seeming lack of relevance.
Things began to change when I ran into an Anglican seminarian at a bookstore in midtown. We started talking about our favorite theologians. I named a few, and then he began to tell me that his favorites are Marcus Borg as well as some within the Jesus seminar movement. He continued to explain to me that my literal approach to the Scriptures excludes so many good Jewish and Islamic folks who will inhabit heaven with us, because the sacrifice of Jesus actually saves them too, whether they realize it or not.
As I reflect on that interaction tonight, I’m reminded that my relevance has little to do with me. Not my personality. Not my style of clothing. The gospel makes me relevant and Jesus has made me an able minister of it.
1 Corinthians 3:5-6a:
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament…
That means that by virtue of the fact that God has made me an able minister of the new covenant, and by virtue of the fact that the gospel is the only message by which anyone can or will be saved, I am relevant. Even to the Dragon Master.
I’ve now spend one whole day in the city and am still a bit stunned and overwhelmed. I’m experiencing culture shock within my own nation, a phenomenon I have not experienced since my last mission trip, one to Southeastern Asia. We spent the first day trying to gain our bearings on the subway system and getting some sightseeing out of our system.
- Saw some good friends (Jeremy and Anna Horneck). Jeremy and Anna serve at a church in Yonkers where Jeremy is a youth pastor. They are moving back to WI next year so Jeremy can pursue an M-Div, while they help us plant Lakewood Baptist.
- We walked across the Brooklyn Bridge.
- 3 Taxi’s almost killed me.
- Good food. Lunch in chinatown, everything bagel, good coffee, honey roasted peanuts at Central Park, etc.
- Tomorrow, our group will be at two different local churches: Tompkin Square Gospel Fellowship and Heritage Baptist Church.
- In the afternoon, we will begin our open air evangelism. Some will sing at Times Square, while others try to engage people with the gospel.
What God’s Doing in My Heart
- Challenging me concerning the need of the people. I was pondering Paul’s response to the idolatry at Athens; his heart was stirred within him.
- Helping me conquer some fears I still encounter every time I share the gospel in an intense atmosphere.
- Reminding me that the gospel makes me relevant and Jesus makes me a competent minister of it.
- Forcing me to trust Him both for open doors and the boldness to walk through them.
That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Thomas Boston wrote:
Were it so that the believer only apprehended Christ, but Christ apprehended not him, we could promise little as to the stability of such a union, it might quickly be dissolved; but as the believer apprehends Christ by faith, so Christ apprehends him by His Spirit, and none shall pluck him out of His hand. Did the child only keep hold of the nurse, it might at length grow weary, and let go its hold, and so fall away: but if she have her arms about the child, it is in no hazard of falling away, even though it be not actually holding by her. So, whatever sinful intermissions may happen in the exercise of faith, yet the union remains sure, by reason of the constant indwelling of the Spirit.
I love the church. And here’s another reason why.
Reason #2: Jesus is building it. We have a builder who established for this spiritual house, a firm foundation. We have a builder who is leading the greatest construction project on the face of the earth, one that neither death nor Satan’s fury could ever stop. That builder said:
I will build my church