I was in North York this morning (stationed there before heading up to Markham for the rest of the day). I decided to go out for a coffee and do some bus stops, praying and trusting the Lord to open doors. What did my hour look like? Well, I met a young Asian lady at a bus stop. I was talking to her about the 1o commandments, but only for a minute – the bus came. Thus, I kept praying and moved on to the corner of Victoria Park and Finch. Tried to talking to a man there, but he was deaf and indicated that he only reads a little.
Thereafter, I went to McDonald’s for a coffee, hoping to spark up a conversation with someone there. No open doors. No worries; kept praying and went back to some bus stops at Victoria Park and Finch. Met a nice Christian lady; talked to her briefly. After that, I had a good little talk with a friendly Hindu man who seemed very interested. We talked briefly about the 10 commandments, but the bus came – wow those Finch buses come fast – too fast! He told me that he was hopeful we could talk again. I sure hope so. I will try to be there around the same time next Thursday.
I went across to the street to the Victoria Park side. I sat down beside a man on a bench. He glanced at me as I sat down. I said, “Wow, what a nice day.” I think he replied, “yep.” I always feel a little awkward talking about the weather, especially with strangers. Whatever the case, I offered him a free penny with the 10 commandments, and explained that I am a Christian and that I hand out these pennies at bus stops. He was thankful and interested. He told me that he used to go to Peoples Church (in TO) until his mother died of cancer in 2000. I expressed my sadness for him concerning the death of his mother. He told me that she was a “fanatic” and that she was a great inspiration to him. From all that he said to me, it sounded as though she was the main reason he went to church.
I spent a while just learning about him and getting to know him. I learned about his work and about his family. He told me how everyone at the church assumed his mom was single, for his dad never went to church with her. Eventually I ask him, “What about you? What do you believe? I mean – are you devoted to Jesus?” He said, “Now?” “Yes, now” I replied. He said, “No, no, I am not.” However, he went on to explain, “you to not have to go to church to be a person who believes.” He told me, “That is what I think. What about you? What do you think?” I told him that church is where we are to go to worship Jesus. Now, obviously the church is not the only place to worship (cf. John 4), but one of the main reasons for the corporate assembly of God’s people is to worship Jesus Christ (as does the church in heaven).
Since my opinion is not authoritative, I went on to tell him that the Bible is God’s Word and that the Bible teaches us about these things. He agreed that the Bible is God’s Word. I am not sure how the conversation turned, but somehow we ended talking about him again (possibly the bus came at that moment, which neither of got on). Anyhow, I asked him, “If you were to die today, do you believe that God would accept you or reject you.” He was not sure. I took some time to explain to him how God is a just judge who will judge according to his standards. I had him grab the NT Bible which I had already given him. He handed it to me to look up a verse I wanted to show him. I found Matthew 5:48 and handed the Bible to him and asked him to read it. He read it. We considered God’s standard of perfection and I asked him again, “Do you think God would accept you or reject you?” He said, “Now?” I said, “Yes, now.” He told me that God would not accept him.
At that moment another lady had come and was standing within an ear shot of our conversation. She said that she was a Christian and that she likes hearing the Gospel. Interestingly, from hearing our conversation about God’s standard of perfection, she said, “You have to be good.” Suddenly, the dynamics of our conversation got a little more complex. However, that was the last thing she said as she kept looking up the street for the bus (while staying within an ear shot).
Now, that statement (“you have to be good”) is theologically loaded. I do not know what she meant, but from reading 3rd John recently, I remembered that, “Whoever is from God does good; whoever does evil has not seen God” (3 John 11). I am also aware that it is “those who have done good” who recieve the resurrection of life (John 5:29). Thus, there really is a sense in which the Christian has to be good. However, if she meant that doing good is the way to gaining God’s acceptance, her efforts are actually evil (cf. Isaiah 64:6). Whatever the case, I wanted to address her statement, but not to her. Rather, I decided to keep talking to the man beside me, all the while knowing that she was listening. I am not saying this is the best thing to do in that situation; I am simply recording what happened.
By the grace of God, I explained to him that we are sinners, referring to a particular sin that he confessed to me earlier in our conversation. I went on to describe how God, in his love, sent Jesus to live a perfect life on our behalf (substitution). Thus, I tried to focus on our failure to be good and on Jesus’ perfect work of being good on our behalf. Then, sensing our time was short, I went on to tell him what Paul wrote to Christians in Ephesians 2:8-9. I emphasized that we cannot escape the wrath of God by works. The bus came. By that time we had spent a while together. He seemed to really appreciative of our talk; I know I did. I enjoyed meeting him. I encouraged him to contact me if he wanted to dialogue further. I also encouraged him to read the sheet of paper (Gospel presentation) inside the NT I gave him. He told me he’d read it tonight. May the Lord cause him to keep his word, and may the Lord cause him to be devoted to Jesus Christ, especially to ongoing faith in the sufficiency of Christ’s work.
Thereafter, on my way back to my future mother-in-law’s place, I met a young Chinese man. We were standing at the stop walk, waiting for the crossing light to flash. We were beside each other and about to walk in the same direction. I thought to myself, “we may as well talk if we are going to be walking so close.” I felt weird, but by God’s grace I mustered up the courage to simply say, “How are you?” He looked at me (I think a little surprised . . . in a good way), smiled, and said, “good.” The door was now open. We had a nice 3 minute walk together in which I learned about him by asking him questions about his college program, life in Canada, etc. At the end of our little walk I told him I was a Christian and gave him a free copy of the NT with a Gospel presentation inserted.
Well, that was an hour on the streets in North York. May the Lord add blessing to the spread of His Word.