I have a friend who is a Gideon. I admire his willingness to follow the Great Commission: to get out there and to tell people about Jesus’ saving message.
Now and then, he would come by our house and recount his adventure that day. His adventure was to stand in front of the local government-supported establishment of incomplete learning and to pass out testaments to high schoolers.
Now and then the police would be called to come by. The principal of the establishment of incomplete learning would come outside and stand beside the policeman.
“See where I’m standing?” my friend would say. “Sidewalk.”
“He’s on the sidewalk,” the policeman would say to the principal. “Public property, not the school’s.”
“But he can’t just hand these…things, these books, to students.”
“Why not?” the policeman would ask.
“Well—but he can’t.”
“Actually he can.”
“So how many did you hand out?” I might ask, back at our house.
“Eighteen. One guy took one and then threw it on the dirt and stamped on it and rubbed it into the ground with his foot. So—seventeen that might be read.”
“Takes courage. I admire you.”
“It’s not me. It’s He.”
So, finally, a day came when I was ready to give evangelism a try—but not the Gideon way; I was too shy for that!
Speaking up for the faith is a requirement of any follower of Christ. If you’ve never tried it, I can assure you that I was scared, too. On the other hand, if you put your heart into it, sometimes it works out better than you expect.
God provides the opportunities.
Already, I had been astonished by the number of times in my sales meetings with lawyers when—without the slightest encouragement from me—the conversation turned on Christian matters. I thought, even as a Jew there must be something about my manner that is making this happen. Then I realized that it is God’s manner on display, not mine.
There was the fast-talking criminal defense attorney who began our sales call by stating, in exasperation, “Dikkon, I’m going to give it all up and go to seminary.” After discovering that I had myself been graduated from seminary, he ended the call, asking plaintively, “But they still believe, don’t they, your classmates? Even if they’re not working in the church. They still believe, don’t they?”
There was the woman divorce attorney who was herself divorcing and asked me, out of the blue, if I happened to know of a good church for her. As it happened, I did….
There was the Christian attorney who would often buy little things from me, a book or two here and there, just to keep me turning up, but who began each legal sales meeting with her most urgently felt Christian question, “Dikkon, but what are you reading right now?”
There was the estate attorney who, for some reason, at the end of our call, after he had bought a large electronic legal library, hazarded a “God bless you.” I laughed and God-blessed-him right back. Our eyes met, evaluating.
“Maybe. Yes. We’re close,” I said. “Technically, we’re still Jews. But, yes, I think we’re almost there.”
“Sit back down,” he said. “Tell me all about it.”
And then there was the one Jewish friend I absolutely needed to speak with, most terribly urgently. He was my principal Jewish mentor. He had tutored our children. I was Godfather to his youngest son.
I’d not yet had a protracted time to speak, to explain…this Christian thing was happening to us way, way too fast.
So one day, flying to Phoenix, I arrived at the airport, and who should be flying out at that same time…my Jewish friend. Fun to run into him at the airport’s bookstore. But he was going to Seattle.
Turned out—to Seattle by way of Phoenix!
Now, my Phoenix flight is almost always over-sold, and we passengers are packed in like peas in a pod. No changing seats; no sprawling out. Yet, for some reason, that day--
our plane was nearly empty!
(Pure coincidence, of course: no other reason for it.)
So my most vitally important Jewish friend with whom I had not had a moment to discuss this astonishing Christian thing and I had four-and-a-half hours to sit together and to get Christianity all talked out.
Does He ever!