A Tale Worth Telling The Rest Of
Let me say this up front .. perhaps belatedly: I am not in any way an example of anything. I wouldn't dare boast about anything except Jesus. I'm just an ordinary guy, a college flunk-out, whom God seems to have selected to do some stuff. ALL the glory is His, all the gain, all the praise. But there does seem to be an "air" in the churches with which I'm familiar, that it's the "special folks" that God uses in His Kingdom work. That is just not so.
From teaching Ken Hemphill's "Serving God .. Discovering and Using Your Spiritual Gifts" course many times, and also from personal experience, I know that God uses ordinary folks like you and me. I hope that message comes through loud and clear, and that more folks will have a realizable goal of being used by the One Who spoke the universe into existence.
The "outline" .. the verses and the story .. were my favorites from then on, I suppose because they flowed so nicely. But also because those verses were the ones which, when committed to memory, had "gelled", in my mind, the fact that I really was saved. At that point, I was free to pursue what God wanted me to do, rather than worrying about my own salvation.
If you've ever studied Henry Blackaby's study course Experiencing God, you probably remember that, in his view, any time God reveals to you the work He's doing all around you, it's an invitation to get involved. To join Him in His work. Hold onto that thought .. we'll stumble across it again, in a minute.
In 1991, FBC Pelham sent about 40 of us to Nassau, the Bahamas, for a mission trip. We had a dozen or so men putting a ceiling in a church that needed some help, and we also put on Backyard Bible Clubs in two locations. That's where I was, overseeing the club in Zion Yamacraw Church.
The week was really super ... many children came to know Jesus, and our youth (who also formed the Youth Choir) sang in several churches in the evenings. In fact, at Zion Yamacraw, after I'd gotten the youth started each morning, I sat down outside with several of the Bahamian ladies who'd brought their children there. Not having an agenda for adults, I just asked if they'd like to do a little Bible Study and they wanted to; in the ensuing days of study, 6 ladies came to know Jesus, too!
It was quite a week. Lots of people were saved, and we were all on Cloud Nine by Saturday morning, when we went to the airport to come home.
But God wasn't done yet. Sam Neugent, our Mission Leader, asked me to stay with the luggage while the baggage handlers came out to load it up curbside, and while Sam took the rest of the folks in to get them cleared to leave the country. I did that, and after they'd tagged up all the bags and taken them inside, I went inside, checked in, and headed to the gate.
As I was passing an empty gate, I heard someone say "...but love is love .. right?" .. followed by "No .. the love does not count if it is not the love from God". Well, that caught my interest, so I stopped, backed up two steps and looked over into the corner, where two men were talking.
One was a man in a baggage handler's uniform, and one was in a suit (he appeared to be witnessing to the other). Even though I am, by nature, shy, I walked over to where they were sitting and asked "Do you mind if I listen in?". They both said they didn't mind, so I sat down.
After about three minutes of men engaging in what I call "verbal fencing", I asked if I might say something. They said to go ahead, so my comment to the baggage handler was "You know this is all a bunch of baloney, right?" He said no, and what did I mean. My response was "The only thing that really matters is, if you were to die right now, where would you spend eternity?"
He said he didn't know, and I said if HE didn't, then I DID. And would he like to know? He said yes to that, so I launched right into the Shamgar outline, as I wrote about last time.
I simply went through it item by item, and when I'd finished, I asked him if there was any reason he wouldn't want to be a Christian. He asked two questions, which I answered, and then he said yes, he would like to become a Christian. I then led a time of prayer, in which He asked God to save him, for Jesus' sake.
I didn't want to leave him with nothing, so I told him and his friend in the suit to wait just a minute and I'd be right back. Then I ran down to the gate where the rest of our team was, grabbed a tract from one of the kids, and ran back down to the other gate. I gave the guy the tract, told him that's what he'd just done, and asked his friend to be in charge of getting him some help, seeing that he got into bible study and church, etc. We all shook hands, and I went back down to our gate, by which time they'd boarded the plane, and I walked on and we left.
Years later, I studied Blackaby's course, and it hit me: we'd had 40 people walk by those two guys, but it wasn't until I walked by that God revealed what was happening. And I suppose that, at my age, and with the story I'd learned 20 years before still hidden away in my mind, God must have decided I was the guy that needed to talk to the baggage handler and his friend.
I'm not much into "canned presentations", but they do have an undeniable value. If you know a plan .. a program .. a presentation .. then you'll know that you know. The fear of not knowing enough, of being unsure of your salvation, usually goes away when you're thus prepared. And if you commit the scripture to heart, then you can adapt what you say to the listener. Start where they are. Respond to them.
I found Doug Snyder in the mid-1990's, and we corresponded some. I think he was glad to know of one of the original Shamgar guys that was still "in the faith". He should know that he affected the lives of a lot of people, particularly since I told him so.
He died in 1998, but his ministry lives on through others.
P.S: If anyone wants to know what the "outline" looks like on paper, here's what I usually ended up with, when I was finished.....