Monday, April 26, 2010

An Unlikely Opportunity

This post is going to make some people a little uncomfortable, but I hope you get something out of it in spite of that.

On Friday night a friend of mine invited me out to bar hop with one of his coworkers. At first I declined saying that I needed to be careful with money and wanted to steer clear of temptation. But not long after hanging up the phone, I just gave into the fact that it was a Friday night and I didn't have anywhere to be the next morning. So I called him back and agreed to go. While I was getting ready to leave I made the decision before hand that I would be cautious and ever mindful of what I was drinking and how much I was drinking. I wanted set up mental boundaries that quite often work for me when faced with a difficult situation that I am aware of before hand.

We went to one place and it was relatively empty, but the music was good, then we went to a second place that had the reputation of being very foreigner friendly so we sat down ordered some drinks and just chatted and ate peanuts. It was rather warm in there which is usual because Koreans hate to be cold, so if it is even slightly cool outside it will usually be warm inside. I had a shirt on that was racer back, which means the shoulders are bare, and a sweater. I shed the sweater and was more comfortable, but we still moved our group over to a table near a window. As I sat there talking to my friends the guy at the table next to me leaned over and asked if the tattoo on my right shoulder was a Bible verse. I confirmed that it was and quoted it for him when he asked what it read. For the next 20 minutes this man, whom I assume was an American in his late 20's early 30's, tried his best to convince me that Christianity is just brain washing and that God is evil, and that he can't possibly love people when there is so much suffering in the world. He asked me so many questions about why I believe what I believe and I did my best to answer. He asked me if God loved people why there were so many people starving. The only answer I could think to give him was because of me. He looked at me very puzzled so I proceeded to elaborate upon my statement. I told him that I was the reason people are starving. Because if I loved them, I would feed them. His response was a mere roll of the eyes. He then asked me about the Crusades and the Catholic Church's recent outbreak of child molestation cases. I tried to explain that these things break the heart of God and that even though it may seem like they are in the name of God, that he despises it and will bring justice. He told me that the only reason I am a Christian was because of where I was raised, had I been born in the Middle East I would be Muslim. I told him he was probably right and that I was exceedingly grateful for that fact. He asked me to explain cancer to which I couldn't give a reason, but that with all of my being I believe and speak and live the truth that God is love. I told him that I do screw up and that my mistakes have negative consequences on many more people besides myself. And that being a Christian doesn't mean I claim to understand the reasons behind everything God does and allows. I wish I could say that the conversation ended with him understanding Jesus better. But I think this conversation taught me so much more than it taught him.

After reflecting on the conversation of that night I have realized that there is unparalleled value to the education I received from a biblically-centered college. During my years at TFC I learned not only the truths about God's Word, but an effective manner in which to present those truths. I was put into positions in my classes that taught me to think about my answers to questions like, "If God is love, why is there suffering?" or "Where is the proof that God exists?". I even participated in a panel that put 3 believers against 3 people pretending to be unbelievers in a mock philosophical debate. I am eternally grateful for the experiences and understandings I gleaned from my classes, relationships and studies at Toccoa Falls College. I also realized after some pondering that had I drank, "one too many" I would have been completely ineffective for Christ, and perhaps worsened this man's view of Christianity, if that was even possible. Instead, I cautiously choose to accept the invitation, and strictly monitored my alcohol intake and because of this I was able to have this difficult conversation with a clear mind.

Please don't take this experience to mean that I am now an avid promoter of bar evangelization, but do understand that I am an avid promoter of moderation and thoughtful behavior. I am thankful for the unexpected conversation that was had because I chose to go out with the contingency of sobriety. I look forward to more opportunities the Lord gives me to speak His truth to a lost world.

Please pray for Casey that the Word of God would not return void, but that a seed would be planted in His mind. I could tell he had been burned by Christians before and was frustrated. Pray that the Spirit would move powerfully in this man's heart and that he would have no other explanation than Jesus.

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