Go west, young man, go west.

West Towne Mall, that is.

I love sharing the gospel!  Mark, Mickey, and I just got back from an afternoon at West Towne Mall in Madison talking with people about Jesus, praying for them, and prophesying God’s heart over them.  It was great!

Originally, we had planned to get together to street preach at Library Mall on campus, but as we drove into town, I started to sense God wanting to change our plans.  I began to feel much more peace about doing “treasure-hunting” this time around.  (Honestly, this kind of annoyed me.  I have a much easier time street-preaching than I do sharing about Jesus using the “treasure-hunting” technique.)

In case you don’t know, “treasure-hunting” is a method we use from time to time that very naturally combines being led by the Spirit with sharing the gospel.  The basic idea is that you get together with a friend or two, grab a piece of paper and pen for each, then wait on God for clues.  You write down whatever he brings to mind, even if it seems weird or even if you’re not sure it’s him.  (For instance, today, Mark wrote down “heavy eye shadow,” a bizarre clue for sure.)  Then you head out to try to find any people that match any clues on the lists.  It’s surprising how many line up and just how receptive people usually are.

This afternoon, we spoke to a number of people at the mall, and it was a blast.

Here are just a couple of the stories that I think will encourage you:

  • Following a clue of “green baseball cap,” I headed into a store right next to the food court.  While I stood there kind of awkwardly, looking for any other clues on our list, the sales girl (Alyssa) asked, “Can I help you with anything?”  I figured this was my divine invitation, so I said, “Well, yes, I suppose you can.  I have kind of a strange question for you.”  I explained the treasure-hunt thing, then we talked a bit about where she’s at with God.  Before leaving, we prayed with her, and I started to feel like maybe I had a prophetic word to share with her.  Getting her permission to share what I was sensing, I promptly proceeded to share a word that ended up more “pathetic” than “prophetic.”  When I finished, I asked if it at all lined up, and she politely shook her head “no.”  Not what I was hoping for, right?  But failure happens.  It’s okay.  You just gotta go for it anyhow.
  • Our talk with Mali (or Magi, or Mari, or Madi, we weren’t quite sure) was a really fun one.  We were walking past a  booth when Mark points and says, “Hey, heavy eye shadow,” referring to one of his clues.  It was some sort of booth for decorative eye shadow, and posters of heavily eye-shadowed eyes were plastered all around it.  (I’m a guy, so please don’t ask me to explain any more.  There were colors and sparkles, and it was all just way beyond what a y-chromosome can understand.)  Anyhow, we strike up a conversation with the lady working at the counter, and we soon came to learn she has only had 2 days off in the last 40 days, has been living in Madison since March but has never seen anything in the city but her apartment and her job at the mall, and has no friends or contacts outside of her boss…  We spoke with her for quite some time, and it was easy to see she just loved the attention and the concern we showed.  We talked about Jesus and prayed with her over her job situation.  (I couldn’t help but laugh how, in the middle of the prayer, she interrupted and asked, “How much you charge?”  I laughed, but soon realized it was a serious question.)  It was difficult to tell where she was at spiritually because of her accent, but she said she wishes she could go to church but her boss won’t give her any days off.  It was easy to see how much it frustrated her.  Anyhow, Mark and his wife Susan live right outside of Madison, so they plan to stop in and befriend her from time to time.  Who knows what God has in store for this woman so desperate for a bit of real and true life, the kind that Jesus gives rather than the kind we find in the “rat race.”
  • Towards the end, Micky went up to a man with “blue and white shoes” on, matching his clues.  We spoke a bit with Mario, and then began to pray for him.  We could sense a real openness over him.  I shared something about sensing how God had a father’s heart towards him, but he was sometimes hesitant to trust God fully with things in his life.  That’s when he opened up a bit more and shared that he grew up Catholic but didn’t really know what to believe now.  Mark shared how each of us three was radically transformed by Jesus when we surrendered to him, met him in a real way, not by growing up in church.  And then it’s like a veil came over his heart, and he decided he didn’t want to talk any more.  The opportunity was gone, but we had gotten some seeds thrown on that soil when it was there, so only God knows what’s going to happen in the future.
  • The two girls at the shoe store were my personal favorite story of the day.  I was getting kind of frustrated that my clue of “ocean and beach scene” hadn’t shown up anywhere, so I was real excited when I saw a big poster clearly showing a beach scene with big ocean waves; there was even fake sand in which sandals rested, completing the picture.  I stood around, looking for other clues in the store, but I didn’t find any.  As I stood there debating whether this was the place or not, Mark comes over.  We get another “Can I help you?” divine invitation and approach the counter ready to see what God has in store.  We talk with the two girls at the register for a bit and then offer to pray for them.  Both look a bit hesitant, but we let them know we’ll be quick and won’t distract customers or anything.  This seems to set them at ease.  After praying, I got their permission to share some of what I sensed God saying for each of them.  This word ended up being right on for both of them, and when we left they were visibly touched and encouraged.

So, yeah, it was a pretty sweet way to spend our Sunday afternoon.  My only disappointment is that I forgot to bring along tracts to leave with people who didn’t have time to talk or who wanted to know more.

“These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also.”  (Acts 17:6)

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