She stood at least 50-feet away and listened. She listened for quite some time before she moved forward. What prompted her to come forward was my offer to those in the area of free bibles, in English or Spanish. She sat down on a bench just a couple feet away from me and immediately opened her new Bible.
And there she sat, listening.
I continued to ask people to come forward to receive a free Bible. I explained to them that they ought not be embarrassed to come forward. They should not be concerned about what the people standing or sitting next to them would think if they came forward. “When you stand before God, my friends, they won’t be standing with you. They won’t be standing with you. You’ll be standing alone. And if you don’t know Christ you will be clothed only in your sin.” I warned.
The young woman sitting on the bench quietly said, “That’s right. That’s right. No one will be standing with you.”
Several people came forward to receive bibles. As they came, the young woman said, “This is so good, what you’re doing.”
“Praise God.” I said. “God is good. He is so very good.”
I turned and asked the young woman her name.
“Naamah. I know my name is in the Bible.”
“Yes it is!” I replied.
I continued to distribute bibles. In order to try to illustrate how important it was that the people not worry about what others might think of them coming forward to receive a Bible, in order to better explain to them that they will be standing alone before God on the Day of Judgment, I shared the following real-life analogy.
I explained that I had served as a gang investigator with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. As soon as I mentioned this, Naamah said, “Wow!”
I told those listening that there were many times when I had a self-professed gang member in an interrogation room, having arrested them for committing a crime. One of the first things I would ask the gang member is, “Where are your friends? Where are your homeboys? I thought you guys were family.”
I would let the gang-banger think about that for a moment and then I would explain to him (or her) that none of his friends were waiting for him at the front counter of the station. None of his street gang “family” were begging and pleading to take his place, to do his time. None of his friends would be in the courtroom asking the judge to let them take his place. As I shared the analogy, I used the names Juan and Michael to represent gang members in the interrogation room.
Naamah again spoke up. “That literally happened to me.” She held up her left wrist to show me a white, plastic wristband. “I just got out of county jail yesterday.”
The white wristband was an inmate identification wristband. I was surprised she was still wearing it as department policy (at least back when I served on the department) was to remove an inmate’s wristband during the release process.
Naamah explained that she had been arrested for something a friend named Michael had done. She was stunned when she heard me mention the name Michael as I shared my story.
“And I bet none of them came to court when you stood before the judge.” I said.
“Not one of them.” She replied.
I turned my attention once again to those gathered at the Metro Station. I explained to those within the sound of my voice that like the gang member in the interrogation room or courtroom who have no friends standing by his side, neither will they have anyone standing by their side–no friends, no family members–on the Day of Judgment.
The Day of Judgment is not a court trial. It is a day of sentencing. No one will stand before God and plead his case. No one will present evidence of his goodness through examples of his “good works.” No one will stand before God and call witnesses to the stand to testify about what a wonderful person he is.
The Word of God makes it clear that if a person does not believe in the Son of God, if he does not obey Jesus Christ the Lord, he has already been judged (John 3:18) and the wrath of God abides on him (John 3:36). He has been sentenced to death. He is a dead man walking who is simply awaiting his death sentenced to be carried out (Revelation 20:11-15). It will be either him standing alone before God clothed only in his sin, or he will be represented by the Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5), the Advocate, Jesus Christ the Lord–who will not simply plead his case, but will declare his client innocent of all charges because Jesus Himself took his place when He died a death He did not deserve on a Roman cross (2 Corinthians 5:21; Colossians 2:8-15; 1 Peter 2:22-24).
I continued to preach the gospel for some time. Naamah continued to sit and listen. As I began to emphasize the propitiatory work of Jesus Christ on behalf of God’s Elect, it was as if spiritual bushes had been shaken dislodging demons off their branches. Several people in the crowd became very angry, cursing, blaspheming–almost gnashing their teeth.
When I finished preaching people were still upset and wanting to argue, but I had to get Jimmy back to class. Jimmy Revelino and Warner Aldridge, both students at The Master’s Seminary, had joined me at the Metro Station.
The three of us spent our remaining time at the Metro Station talking to Naamah. We encouraged her as warmly as we could to come to church on Sunday. She said she lived not far from the church, so we are hopeful and prayerful she will come.
Naamah was right. Her name is in the Bible. The meaning of her name in Hebrew is “pleasantness.” On an afternoon when it seemed for a time the gates of hell were released upon the North Hollywood Metro Station, there were a few bright spots–a few moments of, well, pleasantness. And oh, how pleasant it was to lift up the name of Christ in the open-air, which lead to a troubled, recently released from jail, young woman receiving a Bible and hearing the gospel.