Saturday, June 16, 2012any churches in Saudi Arabia???
The marketplace was quite busy tonight, which is always a bit intimidating. That said, more souls in the market means more sinners to minister to!
One of the challenges we street preachers have to deal with in the summer months is the downtown noise level. Street musicians, motorcycles, skateboarders and other sources of noise can really make it difficult to effectively preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are walking by. You don't want to preach to loud, 'cause then you sound like a raving lunatic. You don't want to preach too softly, 'cause then no one can hear you, and people just assume you are a cellphone-schizophrenic. Hitting that sweet spot between "raving lunatic" and "don't-mind-me-I'm-just-talking-to-myself" takes years and years of open-air preaching experience. Pastor Tim's got it nailed down perfect.
We handed out a number of Bible tracts tonight, which is always encouraging. Who can tell what the Lord will do with those Bible messages stuffed in pockets or purses?
Pastor Tim and I each had a couple of one-on-one conversations with sinners. One in particular is well worth reporting on. I was preaching the Gospel on a street corner when a couple Muslims came by to hear what I had to say. I started to present the Gospel of Life to these young men, and at first, they listened and both were impressed at my profession, my Gospel work, and my general point-of-view on various social affairs. Things started going south when the young men, desiring to reconcile our religious differences, began to present the merits of Islam. Well, suffice it to say that I shot down every Islamic apologetic that was being uttered. The apologetics weren't terribly good, so it wasn't terribly hard to say: "No, sirs, you mistake."
I could tell that I was beginning to annoy the young men when one of them, finally tried to make peace by saying: "Well, in Islam, you know, even as a Christian, you are going to Heaven." That statement made me frown and I couldn't keep a "what?" from coming out of my mouth. The statement also got the attention of a man who was walking by with his two daughters. The man was definitely of Middle-Eastern descent, and my first thought was: "Uh-oh, one more unhappy Muslim to deal with!"
The man introduced himself as Amer. Amer said he spent his childhood in a number of Muslim countries, and was brought up in the Muslim faith and knew the Qu'ran very well. He uttered a few words in Arabic, which I assumed was a quotation from the Qu'ran. What came out of Amer mouth next was a complete surprise: "I know the Qu'ran... I know Islam... and I know that what you just said about Christians going to Heaven according to Islamic teaching is flat wrong... and I know this because I am a born-again Christian today, and there isn't a single Mullah who hasn't condemned my conversion."
Amer was amazing. Every lie the young men tried to get away with was exposed instantly by my brother-in-the-Lord. It was clear that my new friend had had a number of these discussions in the past. Some of my favorite Amer quotes:
"You say Islam in tolerant of Christians? How many churches are there in Saudi Arabia, the home of the two Islamic Holy Cities?"
"There are too many Christian denominations for it to be of God? How many sects and different practices are there in Islam?
"The fact of the matter is if this man (pointing at me) were presenting the Gospel like this in an Islamic country, he would be at best imprisoned, at worst, killed. That's Islam. If you're not Muslim, you are worthy of contempt and violence."
The young men after a number of Amer's answers were well beyond being annoyed and we all decided it was time to move on. After the two young men left, Amer spoke with Pastor Tim and I and it turns out he is a member of an Arabic Baptist church in the city. He said he spends a great deal of time evangelizing my city's Muslim community. It was good to speak with this brother and learn of what the Lord was doing in his life and the people he ministers to. The Lord bless him in all his endeavours.
The rest of the night was far less exciting. Our 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 continued to attract much attention, but praise be to God, no one tried to destroy it tonight. We were mocked a fair bit, but for the most part, everyone behaved themselves. Again, the Lord be thanked.
With that, I'm off to bed. Forty-hour work week, capped off with three hours of evangelism... I'll take a bit of rest now. God bless you all, dear saints.
"...He giveth his beloved sleep." (Psalm 127:2b)