Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Evangelism (11/01/07)
TITLE: The Hope That Is Within You
By Shawn Smith
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After instructing the attendant on the preferred air freshener flavor, I slipped into the store in an effort to waste the waiting time looking at trinkets and gadgets. A moment later, a young man walked in and paid the cashier for his carwash. Something about him struck me as sad. He was about 20, likely one of the college students from the nearby University. He left the little store and went and sat on the only bench outside. I quickly paid too and followed him, sitting on the other end of the bench. He smiled ever so slightly and nodded his head to say hello; then he sat quietly, staring down at the ground as if something were on his mind.
A little voice in the back of my head suggested that he needed to know that God loves him, but I couldn’t seem to form the words to tell him so. I carry a small bible in my purse at all times, and I decided that I would read it, hoping it would give me some sort of inspiration to say something, anything, about Jesus. But my mind was so preoccupied by the young man next to me and the ridiculous fact that I had nothing to say to him that the words on the page made no sense.
An idea finally came to me, but it seemed somewhat absurd. The bible I was reading was a small, pocket bible that I had picked up at Cowboy Church at the rodeo one Sunday morning. The cover had a picture of man on a horse and there were numerous inspirational stories inserted throughout that told of men who rode bulls and roped cows – and loved the Lord. I felt silly thinking that this young man in surf shorts and a t-shirt with short spiky hair and an earring would find anything in common with these rodeo men, but I knew what I had to do. I turned to him and asked in a very uncertain tone, “Do you have a bible?”
He quickly turned to me in surprise. His face softened a little as if he were somewhat embarrassed by the answer he would give, “No. I used to, but I’m not sure where it ended up.”
I handed him mine and said, “I’d like to give you this one if that’s ok.”
He slowly reached out and took it from my hand. “Yes, that would be great” he said in a soft, gentle tone that showed that those words were difficult for him to form.
He briefly looked at the cover and then opened it, flipping through as though he were looking for something specific. His fingers finally stopped on a page that seemed to satisfy his eyes and he began to read. A few minutes later, my car emerged and the attendant raised his hand, indicating that he was finished. I looked momentarily at the young man, still immersed in the Word, picked up my purse and began to walk away. I had only taken a few steps when I heard his voice, “Thank you.”
Looking back, I saw that his eyes were filled with tears and I somehow knew that his life had been changed. As I drove away thinking about the time I had spent there, I suddenly remembered an instruction I had read not long before:
"But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;" 1 Peter 3:15
The young man had not asked; nonetheless, I had not been ready to share my hope with him. Hope that he was desperate to hear about. Hope that he would only be able to find in one place. Evangelism is sharing the good news about the love of our Lord with those who are looking for hope. I wasn’t ready. Are you?
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