Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sharing the Gospel Next Door - Testimony

Please take the time to read this testimony by Matt Howard about the opportunity he had to share the gospel with his neighbors last Monday.

Grace Church,

After a recent discipleship group God once again showed Himself to be powerful and amazing.

For years now I have listened to drunkenness, cursing, yelling and all manner of dysfunction come from one of the houses in my neighborhood. Also over the years I have developed a friendship/relationship with the family. We've talked around campfires and exchanged different lawn and garden services as needed.

Sunday He had laid it on my heart to share the Gospel with family. The desire came with such urgency that I couldn't ignore it. It was time.

On Monday, as we studied the chapter about being debtors, I felt like I was going to burst out of my skin because I absolutely had to share the Gospel with them. Steve ran and got me a couple of Gideon New Testaments, Brian prayed for the witnessing encounter to come and the spiritual groundwork had been laid.

We got home from DG group and I immediately changed clothes, grabbed my garden hoe and weeded in the garden waiting for them to come home. They did come home. They were all there. They weren't drunk and they had just been fishing and had a full stringer. They were so excited to show us the stringer of fish, they invited Annie and I in to their house to see them. I couldn't believe it!
So there we all were: four adult men from their family, one woman and two young girls and me and Annie.

After we finished admiring the fish and having small talk, I said, "So I've known you guys for quite a few years now and I have something very important to tell you."
They all said, "oh no we're in trouble!"
I assured them it wasn't bad, but very very good.
I told them that I had some things to ask them about spiritual things.

I said, "I have twenty dollars sitting at my house for anybody here that passed the good person test. Anybody want to try and win twenty bucks?"
They all ended up wanting to win the money, so I went through the good person test with each of them right in row.

"John, have you ever killed anyone?"
"Have you ever told a lie?"
"What does that make you?"
a liar I suppose

"Ah $%#! John, you failed the good person test," said Jack who was standing over by the door.

We went through everyone in the room seeing if they could pass the test by going through a couple of the ten commandments. Not one person passed and it quickly became obvious that none was going to win the twenty dollars.

I then shifted the conversation.

"It says in scripture that it is appointed for a man once to die and then face judgment. If you were to die today and stand before God to be judged do you think you'd go to heaven or hell?"

Almost in unison they all said, "Heaven...we hope."

"Why would God let you in?" I asked. "What qualifies you to get into heaven?"

The father and his brother said, "If you do more good things than bad, you can make up for them."
Then John said, "The Bible says God is a forgiving God. And furthermore if you obey your father and mother and do good by them you're following one of the commandments."

So I said, "How much trouble would you get in if you vandalized my house?"
They said, "Lots, I suppose. Probably get a ticket and have to go to court."
Then I said, "How much trouble would you be in if you vandalized the governor's mansion?"
"More," they said.
"And what if you vandalized the White House? How much trouble would you be in?"
"We'd be locked up for a long time then!" they said.
Then I asked, "What if you vandalized the house of the infinitely big and holy God of the universe? How much trouble would you be in?"

And one of the first grade age girls exclaimed, "An infinite amount of trouble!!"

Jack exploded with surprise, as only Jack can, "That's exactly right! She's exactly right!"

"So would you say that the debt that we would owe God would be infinite and unable to be paid back?" I asked.

"Yes, it seems that way" they all agreed.

"You see," I said, "the punishment for our sin depends more on the nature of the one sinned against than the nature of the crime. The bigger the person we do a bad thing against, the bigger the consequences and punishment."

"So what does that mean for us then?" I asked. "There we are standing before the infinitely holy and perfect God of the universe on our judgment day and we've all told a lie and broken His law. He brings down the gavel and pronounces us what?......."

"Guilty." They all said.

"I guess we're all going to hell," exclaimed the father. "We've known that our whole lives Matt. Is that all you came to tell us? Is there any more to this?"

"Absolutely!" I said, practically jumping out of my seat. "There's is some VERY good news."

"2000 years ago God sent His son Jesus to earth. Jesus said He was God and He proved it by doing miracles and having wisdom and power that couldn't be explained away. He lived a perfect life, He never sinned, and then He was killed on a cross."

The little girls gasped, "Oh no! no!"

"Yes," I said. He was killed for us. In the Bible it tells us that Jesus who knew no sin became sin for us. He took all of our sin into Himself. In Isaiah chapter 51 it says that it pleased the Lord to crush His Son. God the Father looked upon Jesus all full of our sin and He punished Him with an infinitely big punishment. The punishment that was due to us, Jesus took. He died and raised from the dead three days later to break the power that sin and death have over us. Scripture tells us that if we place our faith in Jesus we will be saved from the wrath of God. If we repent, turn from our sin and turn to God we will be saved. Believe on the Lord Jesus and be saved."

"Wow, I've never heard it like that before." Jack said. "I've never heard it with those words before."

I then handed them the Knowing God tract that I printed off on two pages of paper. I handed them the two Gideon New Testaments and pointed them to the back of them where the Gospel was clearly written. They thanked me for sharing with them and I told them that if they ever had any questions or if they wanted to talk about anything spiritual they could feel free.

There were no tears, sinners prayers or visible signs that anything was accomplished, but in my spirit I knew that the Lord was powerfully moving in order to get the words of life to them and sink them deep into their hearts.

We chatted about things, they invited us to go fishing with them and Annie and I went home worshipping and praising God together that He had orchestrated such an amazing encounter.

Please pray for this family. Pray that God would save them and bring them to repentance and give them saving faith through His word working in their hearts. Pray for Annie and I that we would continue to have an effective witness to them both in words and in deeds.

Praise Him!

No comments: