He was a white man. He looked around 60. I thought, “Oh boy, these are the type that often get annoyed when I try to speak. But, you never know!”
I started, “Hello sir, my name is Paul and this is my friend Ashar. We’re from the church just on the other side of those buildings over there. And we’re out talking to people about the Gospel. Do you have a religious background?”
With anger in his eyes, he shot back, “Religion. You want to talk about religion!” I knew this wouldn’t please him, but with a smile I gently replied, “Well, Jesus.” This just set him off. He responded by swearing at us and accused us of harassment.
By the grace of God, I remained calm and gently drew his attention to the fact that he was the one yelling and swearing at us. Then we walked away, but only to get another ear full of this man swearing and shouting at us and even saying, “I don’t care what you do, go sleep around with whoever you want; do what whatever you want, just don’t talk to me about religion!”
I wondered, “What happened to him in years gone by? What was his experience of Church? What kind of Christian exposure has he had? Why such intense hostility toward God?” His heart appeared to be as hard as the hardest rock could be! But Jesus is still mighty to soften and save. So we prayed for him.
Yet, not long after that experience, we crossed the road and found another man waiting for a bus. This man was likely in his 40’s, a Jamaican man, out doing some job hunting. He gladly heard the message of the Gospel. Not only that, he let a number of buses pass by simply to listen, learn and to ask questions. We had the Bible out and looked at some Scripture. He shared a bit of his story and seemed moved by the main theme of our conversation: Jesus came to save his people from their sins.
He was very thankful for what we shared and expressed serious interest in visiting our church. We prayed for the Lord to provide him with a job, but in such a way that it would be unmistakeably from above.
Now, I’m not saying the Jamaican man is seeking God; I don’t know (even Herod wanted to meet Jesus and Felix gladly listened to Paul). One thing was obvious however: he was more open to learning about Jesus than the other man.
The two men seemed so different; I mean, their hearts were different. One was intensely hostile to even speaking about God. Talking about God was like death to him! The other man had an appetite to learn more about Jesus. He seemed sincerely sobered by the truths that Jesus came for sinners and that forgiveness is gained by faith in Christ’s work alone.
Well, there are two things:
1) Don’t be discouraged by hostility. People’s hearts are in different conditions (just like their bodies!). Even if you meet a number of people who are hostile to the Gospel, take heart, there may be someone else right around the corner who is willing to listen. Keep fishing.
2) Pray for God to humble hearts. Think of the soils that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 13. The only way for the seed of the Gospel to actually take root and bear fruit is when it’s cast on good soil. Good soil is a humble heart.
So, let’s press on in the work our Lord – To Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)