My Grandpa Ray died last week. I loved him and he is a Christian so I have confidence I will see him again with Jesus. I bring this up only because his death gave me an opportunity to fly back to my home town Menno, South Dakota. It was a great time of reconnecting with family and remembering grandpa.
My travels to Menno were quick and easy but my travels back to Vincennes lasted 18 hours and were filled with delays and reroutes. Some may have been frustrated by this but I gave me an opportunity to talk to a man from Sudan (a country in Africa, just below Egypt). He had been living in Sioux Falls for a while and he was going back home. We spoke about many things; family, politics, education to name a few.
About half way through the flight I casually asked him if he believed in God. He enthusiastically said he was a Muslim but spoke highly of other religions. I asked him to share with me what he thought God was like but he did not really want to talk about it.
I asked if I could share with him what I believed.
I asked if I could share with him what I believed. He agreed and I started to share the gospel. My new friend enthusiastically agreed with me that God is our Creator, Father and Judge.
Then I asked how God relates to man. He got nervous when I talked about God judging our misdeeds. He said that God will forgive if we ask. I asked if a judge let a thief go without punishment would that be a good judge? I could see the wheels turning as he tried to reconcile his conflicting ideas.
I was so close!
I then told him that he can either take his own punishment or find a substitute. I was just about to bring this man to the foot of the cross when he abruptly, and even somewhat rudely, stopped me. I was about to tell him that Jesus Christ is the willing substitute for our sin and all who put their faith in Him will be saved. It was my very next sentence! I was so close!
Some may look at this experience and criticize me for not trying harder (I am my harshest critic). I should have pushed through that vital piece of information. Maybe I gave up too easily but I could not see a way to continue.
Despite my inability to ‘seal the deal’ I have tremendous hope! Why?
What I accomplished in apologetics.
First, for what I accomplished in apologetics. We found common ground about a God who is Creator, Father and Judge but shed light on his misunderstanding of God’s judgment. He could not explain how God can be a good judge and let him out of his sin. Also, he knows that there is a substitute for his sin. Jesus my not have been named but he is aware that there may be one who can take away his sin.
God is greater than my ability.
Second, God is bigger than my ability. I was only step in the journey that may ultimately mean this man’s conversion to Jesus. I do not know that next step, but I know the God who has planned it.
I expect that many gospel conversations are like this one. Attempts made but something comes in the way. Do not let that discourage you! Do you best to make Jesus known and understood. Do the work of an evangelist and God will give the growth.