As I stood on the corner with my cross, Jeremy drove through the intersection. After driving by several times, he was compelled to stop.
The following testimony is shared for the glory of Jesus Christ, for the edification of His people–the Church, and with the hope the lost will read the gospel and be saved.
A Lazy Day
It was just me and Roxy in the house for most of the day. Yesterday, I had finished a several-months-long writing project–a 160-page New Testament Survey syllabus for a 16-hour course I will teach next week, in Marange, Kenya. With the house quiet and my feet elevated on the recliner, I quickly lost what little interest I had to do anything. I wanted a day off before making what might be my most challenging ministry trip to date.
I watched a little TV. Did a little reading. Played in the backyard with my little dog. And watched a little more TV.
Now that I’m approaching my 53rd year on planet earth, I have grown fond of naps. Yet I still haven’t learned how to rest–how to really take days off. I soon found myself bored.
Even though I had just finished a lengthy writing project, I thought I would end the boredom by writing a blog article. I had exchanged a few texts with one of my elders, Nick Rolland, about our upcoming trip to Kenya. In one of the texts, I asked Elder Nick if he might have some suggestions for article topics. He said he had no suggestions for a blog article. However, he did suggest this:
“It would be okay to do some sign evangelism, too.”
I hadn’t planned to hit the streets. Again, it was supposed to be a day off. However, Elder Nick’s motivating accountability changed my mind. I decided to go out and do some “Cross-Walking.”
Marquette Street and Kimberly Road
Less than a half-mile from my home is an intersection Brother Donnie Johnson and I have frequented. There, we engage in sign and cross-walking ministry. It’s a busy intersection. Thousands of cars pass through the intersection at Marquette Street and Kimberly Road every day. A popular local eatery, Popeye’s Louisiana Kitchen (Brother Donnie and I are rather fond of the fried chicken), is at the corner. Marquette Street is also one of the main arteries into my neighborhood. So, the location is strategic for that reason, too.
I took my place on the northwest corner of the intersection where Popeye’s is located. The reason: if people want to stop and talk to me, all they have to do is pull into the Popeye’s parking lot and walk a short distance to talk to me. The strategy would prove valid this day.
For the next 90 minutes, I stood on the corner holding my cross and waving often to motorists as they drove by.
One car in particular caught my attention.
A Honk of a Horn
As I stood at the corner, I heard the unmistakable sound of a car horn coming from behind me. I turned around. My attention was drawn to the car closest to me, in the Popeye’s parking lot. It didn’t immediately register in my brain, but I would soon learn I had seen the car more than once that day.
The driver, a young man with his left arm hanging out the driver’s door window motioned with his hand. He wanted me to come to his car. I pulled a couple gospel tracts out of my jacket pocket, rested my cross on my shoulder, and walked toward the car. As I approached, I noticed a young woman sitting in the front passenger seat.
Jeremy: “I Had to Stop”
“Hi.” I said to the couple in the car.
“We’ve driven by you four or five times. I just couldn’t take it anymore and I had to stop. “I got a question.” The driver said. “What’s that mean?” He said, as he pointed at my cross.
Their names were Jeremy and Hannah.
I explained to Jeremy and Hannah that the words “Are You Ready” on the cross ask an important question: “Are your ready to stand before God to give an account for your life?”
“That’s a good question. I don’t know if I am or not.” Jeremy said. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” I replied.
“I know the Bible is a good book, but I’m not sure I believe all of it. What about all the people in the world who don’t have the Bible? What about people who live in places where they might not ever hear of Jesus?” Jeremy asked.
“Jeremy, no one goes to hell because they’ve never read the Bible or because they’ve never heard of Jesus. If people went to hell for not hearing about Jesus, then the most hateful thing Christians could do is send missionaries to tell people about Jesus and give them the chance to reject him.” I said.
Jeremy nodded his head in agreement.
“God sends people to hell for breaking the law He has written on every human being’s heart.” I continued. “Jeremy, you and I and Hannah were created in the image of God. The three of us are very different people, but we were all created by the same God–the only God who exists. As such, we have two things in common: we know God exists, and God has given us a conscience. He has written His law on our hearts. He has given us a conscience.”
I explained to Jeremy and Hannah how we all have violated God’s law–how we have all sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23), and short of His standard of goodness–moral perfection (Matthew 5:48).
“When you die and stand before God, He will judge you according to the perfect moral standard of His law. Having found you guilty of breaking His law, He will do what is right and what is good. He will send you to hell for eternity as the just punishment for your sins against Him.” I explained.
Jeremy and Hannah Hear the Gospel
Hannah said, “But if we repent?”
I spent several minutes explaining to the couple the biblical definition of repentance.
“The God who will punish your sin is the only one who can forgive your sin.” I said.
I communicated the gospel to Jeremy and Hannah. Along the way I incorporated a few analogies to help them understand biblical truths. They listened intently.
Jeremy told me they would have to leave in a few minutes. When they saw me on the corner they were on their way to a local college where Hannah is taking a class in photography.
“Before we go, I have another question for you.” Jeremy said.
Jeremy’s Pet Sin
“Is smoking marijuana a sin?” Jeremy asked.
“The Bible makes it clear that God considers all form of intoxication sinful. Whether you realize it or not, whether you feel it or not, the moment the THC in the marijuana enters your system, you are affected by it. To whatever degree, you place yourself into an altered state of consciousness.”
“You might not be intoxicated to the point of violating man’s law– meaning: you might not be too stoned to drive a car, or intoxicated to the point of not being able to care for yourself or others. However, God will judge you according to His standard, not man’s.”
Jeremy tried to justify smoking marijuana because, while it wasn’t legal in Iowa, it was legal just a few miles away in Illinois. He didn’t think that was fair. I explained to him that God expects people to submit to governing authority (Romans 13:1-5). So, if he smokes marijuana in Iowa, where it is against the law to do so, then he is sinning against God–not only by becoming intoxication, but also by disobeying lawful authority.
I posed a scenario to Jeremy that caused him to drop the defense of his pet sin.
“What if it was not a sin to become intoxicated? Have you ever lied?” I asked.
“Yes.” He honestly answered.
“Then you’re a dead man where you sit. You’ve sinned against God and, at the moment, you have no hope. You’re headed to hell. God is going to judge not only the sins you hate in others, but the sins you love to commit.
A Final Plea to Repent and Believe
“But there is hope for both of you today.” I said. “If, by faith, you receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, He will forgive your sins–all of them. He will remove your sin as far as the east is from the west and remember them no more.
“Neither of you are promised your next breath, let alone tomorrow. You could leave this parking lot, deep in thought about this conversation, run the red light at the intersection, and get center-punched by a car coming through the intersection.
“This is why the Bible says now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2). Repent and believe the gospel, both of you.”
When I approached Jeremy’s car, I had my cross over my right shoulder and a couple of our church’s gospel tracts in my left hand.
After hearing a final call to repent and believe the gospel, Jeremy looked at the gospel tracts in my hand and asked, “Can we have those, please?”
I gave Jeremy and Hannah the gospel tracts, letting them know that information for my church was on the tract. After inviting them to join me for Sunday worship, I gave Jeremy my cell phone number.
I thanked the two young people for spending more than a half-hour with me. They responded in kind. After shaking Jeremy’s hand, I put my cross back on my shoulder and headed back to the corner. There I stood, waving again to passing motorists, with a smile from ear-to-ear on my face.
I thanked God for the opportunity to communicate the gospel to Jeremy and Hannah.