Jake and I joined Alex on Tuesday at Piata Obor to pass out gospel tracts near the subway station. I love the work Alex is doing, and his zeal for sharing the gospel (driven by his own experience of radical transformation when he discovered the message of the cross) is infectious and challenging.
Alex is a guy who really doesn’t care what he looks like out there sharing the gospel, knowing it’s by nature foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-31). It’s an unnerving and challenging but also inspiring characteristic. I’ve been in the subway with Alex when he’s started a conversation with me loud enough to be called open-air preaching, and the results were similar. My first time joining Alex for evangelism, he convinced me to grab his bullhorn and start preaching… in English… with no interpreter. I’m still not sure how he convinced me that was a good idea. Other times, he’s stopped young women on the street and asked them, as a grandfather might, “Why are you dressed like this? Don’t you know you’re causing guys to stumble? Don’t you care about their souls?” Hanging out with him can be, well, embarrassing.
The bottom line, though, is this: if hell is real, and if sin destroys men here and for eternity, and if Jesus really rescues men, then the gospel is worth your and my embarrassment.
Anyhow, there are plenty of ways to share the gospel, and I love them all. You certainly don’t have to be embarrassing in how you tell others about Jesus. But… if it’s all real, then it’s certainly worth any possible embarrassment.
I was reminded of this reality on Tuesday. While passing out tracts, Alex stopped two young men who were hurrying past, a complete lack of interest clearly displayed on their faces as they tried to get by him. I heard him ask them in Romanian, “Hey, don’t you have a couple minutes? Just a few minutes.” They expressed their need to hurry but were cut short by Alex. “Just a couple minutes.” I felt for the young men trapped by his persuasiveness, but I had to admit Alex’s insistence was admirable, and my growing embarrassment, well, embarrassing.
Then Alex decided to draw me into it all. (Don’t tell me God doesn’t have a sense of humor.) He pointed to me, saying, “This young man wants to share his testimony with you.” (And the words going through my head: Uh… No, I don’t. I mean, yes, I do, but…) “He has a message you need to hear. Just give him a couple minutes.”
So I launched into the story of what Jesus did for me. I told of how I was baptized as a baby and went to church my whole life but became an atheist somewhere around high-school. I told of discovering pornography and soon finding myself addicted. I told of how I began to question whether or not I really could be certain that God was not real and that Jesus was just a man long dead. I told of how, at last, I gave up, surrendered to God. I told of how Jesus changed my desires for pornography and broke their hold on me. And I told of how he could do the same for them, whatever issues they struggle with.
As I spoke, I watched the gospel connect with their hearts. Honestly, it’s really fun to watch, and I can usually see it in a person’s eyes. They get that look that says, “Oh, man, I’ve been caught, and I can’t hide.” The bewilderment and annoyance they showed so clearly at first had turned into a genuine interest in the message of the gospel and a clear conviction of sin on their hearts.
But the young men were in a hurry, so I wrapped up my story quickly and then asked if we could pray for them. They, of course, were more than happy to receive prayer. And a couple Bibles along with an invitation to church.
It was a good reminder to me that embarrassment is not a good reason to keep quiet about the gospel. If it’s all real, it’s worth the embarrassment.
Pray for these two young men to find no peace until they surrender to Jesus.