The air was slightly chilly outside, but not enough to make me trade in my shorts and t-shirt for more fall-oriented gear. I sat at an outdoor table, sporting my black UMKC shirt and a pair of gym-like shorts, with Starbucks on my right and myriads of city traffic buzzing by on my left.
I raised my nonfat pumpkin spice latte just short of my lips, but even the tantalizing smell of gourmet coffee did nothing to soothe my frustration.
“I don’t know, Dad,” I blurted. “I’m just not sure if this Campus Ministry is doing any good.”
My Dad sat across from me, his Bible lying unashamedly open on the public table. “And why’s that, son?”
I set down my cup and looked at him, my eyes pleading him to understand. “Dad, I’ve been attending the University of Kansas City for a year, and so far I haven’t seen a hint of student sympathy towards the Gospel.”
“We’re not looking for sympathy. We’re waiting for God to bring children into His family through our persistence in spreading His Word.”
“But if they don’t even care what we’re saying how is our persistence going to accomplish anything?”
Dad leaned over his Bible, pointed to a verse, and looked back at me with kind, fervent eyes. “The Lord tells us that just as rain and snow do not return to Heaven without watering the earth, so His Word will not return to Him without accomplishing His desire.”
I leaned forward on my elbows, thinking ... wanting to believe it was that easy. In my side vision I saw a man with a salt-and-pepper beard pass us and enter the coffee shop. The early morning sun was pouring over the tops of busy cars like a river of shining gold. I slipped on my shades to block the blinding light.
“Well, if God’s Word always accomplishes what it’s supposed to, why don’t more people listen? Why is it that I can talk about meaningless stuff with another student and they’re fine, but as soon as I turn the conversation toward the spiritual, they bale out?”
“God doesn’t work within our limits, Josh. He has a habit of accomplishing the unexpected and the impossible. Maybe you’re making a difference in those students’ lives and you don’t even know it. You’ve got to be affecting them in some way or they wouldn’t respond the way they do. Besides, you’re not the only one sharing your faith. We have a whole team over there, adult and student alike, doing the same thing. I know God has something big planned for that campus.”
“How do you know?”
“Because He’s placed us in this ministry. Now He expects us to trust Him. His Word will succeed in reaching whom He intends to reach, even if they appear to be unlikely converts.”
The coffee shop door opened behind me and I could see the bearded man that had entered earlier heading back to his car. He paused and turned toward us.
“That’s a great Book you got there, brother.” He said with a grin.
Dad smiled back. “The best there is.”
The man extended his hand to my dad and then me, introducing himself as “Mick.” He gestured to my shirt. “Ya know, I used to go to that college years ago.”
“God owns that campus,” Dad commented, “They just don’t know it yet.”
“Amen, brother! They just need a servant of the Master to guide ‘em along.”
Dad enthusiastically told him about the college ministry that we participated in, and Mick told us how he had come to UMKC shortly after serving time in prison, having accepted Christ upon his release.
“If there ever was a least likely candidate for salvation, it was me.” Mick said. “If God and His people hadn’t kept workin’ on me, I wouldn’t be a Christian right now.”
I couldn’t tell what it was, but talking to Mick somehow felt like a shot of adrenaline through my veins. I was excited, almost jittery at his story, especially in light of what Dad and I had been discussing. The man had almost used Dad’s exact words in referring to himself as “the least likely candidate.”
As Mick said good-bye and walked back to his car, I couldn’t help thinking that God had sent us to that Starbucks shop for a specific reason that day. Maybe so I could learn that God uses persistence and unlikely encounters to bring about His will.
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