Tag Archives: Faith

Talking with a Catholic on Day 12: I’ve Never Heard that Before

Arthur and I had just finished talking to a Muslim man at the corner of Don Mills and Eglington. We didn’t know who to approach, but prayed for wisdom, and even for the Lord to bring someone to us.

We walked north to Don Mills and Wexford, stood there and continued to pray. Not much was happening, but about 20 feet behind the bus shelter there stood a young woman. Obviously the thought crossed our mind, “Should we approach her?” but we thought it unwise. Even so, about 5 minutes later she came to the bus shelter. God answers prayer! What follows is an abbreviated summary of our conversation. (P is for me; and N is for the young woman).

P: Hi, my name is Paul and this is my friend Arthur. We’re out talking to people about the Gospel today. Do you have a religious background?

N: Yes, Roman Catholic.

P:  We talk to Catholics often. And an important issue that often comes up deals with how someone receives the forgiveness of sins.

N: Okay.

P: So, let me ask you a question. Now, (smiling) I hope you live a nice long life, and I hope you don’t die any time soon, but just think about this for a moment: what if you died, even today; what do you think God would do with you? Do you think he’d reject you or accept you?

N: Maybe I’d go to purgatory; you know, to get cleansed.

P: Did you know there’s no mention of purgatory in the Bible?

N: No? Really?

P: I don’t know how it got into Church tradition, but it’s not in the Bible. In fact, in Matthew 25 (I opened my Bible there), Jesus says that one day he will judge the world. And all people will stand before him. And their sentence will either be eternal punishment or eternal life. Here, let me show you (turning the Bible to show her the passage), right there, the underlined part, in verse 46, Jesus says “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” He didn’t teach purgatory.

N: I didn’t know that.

P: Did you know that the Bible also teaches that the way to receive forgiveness for your sins is not by being a good person and keeping the sacraments?

N: No.

P: Here (giving her my Bible that I’d opened to Ephesians 2), I want you to read this passage for yourself. See right there, where it has the 8 and 9; yes, please read those verses. (She read them silently).

N: Okay.

P: Do you understand what it says about forgiveness of sins? I know the word forgiveness isn’t mentioned, but when Paul speaks of being saved, he means being saved from God’s punishment for our sins.

N: It’s a gift.

P: (With a big smile) Yes, it’s absolutely free; like a Christmas gift! See (pointing to the phrase), it says, “this is not your own doing, it is the gift of God, not a result of works.”

N: I’ve never heard that before.

P: No? Well, the Bible teaches this in so many places. If we had time, I could show you passage after passage. One of the main reasons why Jesus came was to work for us. You see, though you seem like a really nice person, the truth is, in God’s eyes, he knows that you’re like me and everyone else. The Bible teaches that we are all sinners. And therefore we’re guilty before God. And there is no way for us to remove the guilt. We are helpless. But God is loving and that’s why he sent Jesus to be our substitute. Do you know what a substitute is?

N: Yes.

P: Jesus came and lived the perfect life for us. He never sinned. And he died in our place; he was punished for our sins. And he rose from the dead and he is alive. He is calling all people to believe in him and to trust in his work. (Pulling out a Two Ways to Live booklet) Here is a booklet. I really encourage you to read it. It summarizes the whole message of the Bible and explain why Jesus came.

N: (With a sense of assurance and sincerity) I will read it.

Arthur really encouraged  her to visit our church and that was it. The bus came and off she went. May the Lord pursue her.

Day 11: Danielle Talks with a Muslim at Timmy’s

I love hearing from those who hit the streets with me! In this post, Danielle shares about our experience at Tim Horton’s last Thursday. She’s a faithful woman who loves Christ and is zealous to reach out to others with His love. Check out what happened!

Last Thursday, Paul and I had the opportunity to talk to the people of Don Mills about the gospel of Jesus. Our conversation with a young Muslim woman named Nadia really struck me.

Paul and I had gone in to Tim Horton’s because he needed to use the washroom. While waiting for him, I noticed a young woman playing with her phone. I went up to her, introduced myself and explained that we were going around talking to people about Jesus, and asked if I could sit down. She smiled a little bit and agreed.

Before long, I found out that Nadia was a Sunni Muslim and was eager to celebrate the beginning of Ramadan the following day. She explained that for Muslims, Ramadan was a month of fasting and doing more good deeds than usual: donating to charity, for example. We got into a discussion about the role of doing good works and the difference between salvation by works and salvation by grace through faith. At first she was insistent that Muslims and Christians believe the same things, just that “the name for God is Allah and the name for Jesus is Mohammed.” Paul gently but firmly explained to her that Mohammed lived after Jesus had died and risen, and that they weren’t the same person. Mohammed was a prophet. Jesus is the Son of God, God incarnate, who came to dwell with humans, eventually dying for us so that our sins may be forgiven.

Paul and I had the opportunity to share the gospel with her, pointing to the Bible as our authority and using our lives as a testimony. Nadia explained that although some Muslims treat Ramadan as only a one-month gimmick before going back to their normal lives, she tried to live a lifestyle of doing good works. I explained that although I had grown up with a similar mentality of trying my best to be good to make God happy and to earn His forgiveness, God is so holy in His righteousness that even my best attempts don’t meet His standard. I know myself, and if I had to be honest with myself, I know that I am a sinner and in need of God’s mercy.

I was really encouraged that Nadia was spending her break talking to us about Jesus. She was insistent that people are “born into” their faiths or religions. Paul and I gave examples of people we know who didn’t grow up in Christian homes but, by the grace of God, became aware of their sin and are now reconciled to God through Jesus. The conversation took a turn for me, however, when, instead of questioning or challenging us, Nadia simply said, “Well, how would you like it if someone in your home converted from Christianity to another religion?” She then explained that her family was very religious and that her branch of Islam is the strictest.

Paul urged Nadia to make an informed decision when making choices, not just because of familial pressures or fears. We offered her a copy of the gospel of Luke, which she accepted, and gave her my contact information. I pray that she would contact me and ask more questions or ask to check out church with me.

Our conversation with Nadia reminded me of the Parable of the Sower in Matthew 13, specifically the seed that was sown among the thorns: “As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.” (Matthew 13:22). It seemed like Nadia was beginning to understand the gospel and was showing a lot of interest in Jesus, but she was worried about the cares of the world: what her family may say, perhaps.

Our conversation with Nadia was also a strong reminder to me that we are to fear God and not man. We must remember that God is the holy, uncreated, Creator God, and man is sinful creation. Jesus Himself said, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven (Matthew 10:32-33).”

To the praise of His glorious grace!

Talking with a Grade 12 Couple: What is Faith?

Georgie and I were at the bus stops for a bit yesterday morning. We saw a young couple (grade 12 students) sitting on the step in front of the church beside the bus stop. The young man was talking on his cell. I was hesitant to go to them, for I usually do not like to interrupt people. However, his girlfriend was not talking on the phone. What do we do? I went back and forth, deliberating . . . but since no one else was around, we finally decided to go talk to them. We approached them handing them the 10 commandment coins and telling them who we are and what we were up to (spreading the Gospel).

I asked the girl if she knew the Gospel, she said that she did, but that she did not know it well, nor much about it. With a smile and joy in my heart I said, “Well then, have I got something to share – this is the best news ever!” She smirked, but must have wondered “what’s up with this odd guy? And how did he score such a lovely and pleasant fiance?” I went on to share the Gospel with them; by this time, her boyfriend was off the phone and listening. I started in Genesis 1-3 and preached the Gospel in conjunction with Romans 5: Adam as our representative (sin, death) and then Christ as our redemptive representative (obedience and life). Were they listening? Yes, they really seemed to be listening. After this I opened up the Bible and read to them Mark 1:15 telling them that God commands them to turn to Jesus and to believe on Him.

Now, he was Catholic and I am not sure what her background was. Whatever the case, I asked, “Is Jesus number one in you life right now?” He said “no, not always.” I responded, “Me too. I cannot say that he is always number one in my life.” He replied, “Having faith can be hard sometimes – how do we know (Christianity) is true?” I said, “what is faith?” He said, “It is what you believe but you do not know.” I discerned a problem with that concept of faith. Thus, I turned to Hebrews 11:1 and gave him the Bible to read for himself. He read (silently) Hebrews 11:1, which says, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (ESV). I said, “Faith is being certain of would you do not see.” I explained to him that you can be certain of things that you have not seen.

Whatever the case, they live in the neighbourhood. Georgie and I explained how we are moving into the neighbourhood soon. We gave them Bibles (with our personal and church contact info) with a pamphlet of the  Gospel. We opened up the doors for further dialogue, whether it be over a coffee or at our church. May the Lord guard the Word that was cast upon the soil of their hearts. Hopefully it is good soil; if not, may the Lord make it so.