Picking up where I left off, the first two sessions yesterday were taught by Craig and were about “Unfolding the Book of Romans.” Several helpful things we learned:
- Know what the book is about
- Master the doctrine of Romans and the language of John (both books are about the gospel; John gives it all in illustration and example. Craig did this: he would teach some deep things and then give an example that appeals to common sense and justice.)
- A kleptomaniac is not judged, when caught, because he is a kleptomaniac, but because of what he stole. We learn that God doesn’t punish us for being sinners, but for sinning. But the fact is that He did deliver us from both problems: the wrath of God (because of sinS) and the wreckage of Adam (we sin).
- We went over the witnesses of Creation, Conscience, and the Law in God’s courtroom. All of them are lower than God’s perfect standard, but we can’t even meet those!
- Belief is not a work meritorious of eternal life anymore than a bum on the street’s extending his arm to take a hamburger, that you graciously offer him, earns him the hamburger.
During the lunch break (boxes and boxes of pizza brought in), I decided to hang out with Jeremiah. His prayers were very Bible-based and powerful, and I saw a heart for God in him. We had great conversation—Jeremiah, Daniel K., and me—discussing what we had learned and encouraging one another.
After the first two sessions we had several hours of free time. Daniel and Rachel were indicating going over to the mall here to pass out tracts and talk to people about the gospel. Frankly, I was terrified. But our group, minus Nathanael, drove over and prayed, then entered the mall.
Rachel and Jessica paired up, as did Arielle and Bethany. Daniel wanted to go off by himself, and that left me by myself. I saw Daniel got into a conversation with a man right away, but at every turn, when I saw someone sitting on a bench, I was reasoned my way out of doing anything. My time there was visibly unprofitable, except to show me how cowardly I am in beginning conversations about the gospel! Then I saw Jeremiah and Anna and was encouraged that others were there for evangelism too. Jeremiah soon was talking to a young man at a cellular phone kiosk. He is very outgoing...what an example! I also ran into Josiah and Megan, and David and Rachel H. They were all there and passed out a couple tracts, but Josiah felt like it was horrible, because of how little they did. I felt even worse about how I did, and I told them what happened with me.
My group returned to the hotel about 5:45—we were expecting to go somewhere for supper at 6:00. Daniel and I took a brief walk around the hotel, and we discussed the difficulty I had doing God’s work earlier. No revelatory solutions came of it, but it was good to talk. :)
When we had left the mall, Jeremiah was still talking to that fellow at the kiosk! We all left for supper without him. Transportation was the same as the previous evening: all those with cars drive past the entrance and all the people pile in, and we drive off. Supper was at El Ranchero, obviously a Mexican Restaurant. I sat in a booth in the corner with Nathanael, Josiah, and Daniel.
As we waited for the food and then ate, we talked about all the things that we had learned that day and the previous day, and just how different our lives could and probably should be. Like what are we doing here in America, living like Americans? Shouldn’t we be Christians? Let’s live more simply, giving up all the world craves, so that we can have more time or money or resources to devote to the Lord’s work. We discussed the treasures we lay up in heaven versus the treasures of earth; the importance of doing everything for God from the heart or else it’s useless; and we marveled that Jeremiah was still talking at the Mall! Josiah sent him a text message, but we never heard back from them, so we were continually amazed. After the meal was finished and we were still sitting there (while the whole group finished), Josiah encouraged us to pray for Jeremiah’s work for God over there. So at 8:00 all four of us prayed for him and for the week and for our lives and God’s glory. We prayed with power that God would save the young man today. What a great time of fellowship and marveling in the calling to which we have been called!
When we got back, we found Jeremiah and Anna in the conference room with sandwich materials on the table. Jeremiah began telling us about his experiences.
The young man I saw him with, Collin, had not been sure whether we evolved or were created, and didn’t know if heaven and hell were real, physical places. Jeremiah asked if he had some time; he looked around and said, “I have all the time in the world!” (the mall was not at all crowded).
And he heard the complete gospel. Jeremiah said that he was able to incorporate things that we learned only hours before, as he talked with Collin. When he was done he asked him if all of what he said made sense.
“Man, that’s made the most sense of any religion I’ve ever heard,” was the reply.
Jeremiah and Anna made sure to get him a Bible, and Jeremiah is pretty sure the young man is now saved!
God gave him an open door with a man from another kiosk as they were leaving, and he stayed for another hour talking with a man who used to be in the churches, but who now suppressed the truth in unrighteousness, denying Jesus as the Son of God. The Lord was so faithful to bring to Jeremiah’s mind answers regarding evolution that he had heard many years before from Ken Ham, and there was nothing to which he had to say, “I don’t know.” Finally, despite this man’s talkative nature, the Lord impressed on Jeremiah to share his personal testimony with the man, whose name was Cory. God shut Cory up the whole time that Jeremiah told his testimony. As he said is usual while he shares how he was saved, Jeremiah was weeping, and at the end, the man had gone away quiet and with a changed countenance, having been upset from his mindset of denial.
Just think: God brought Jeremiah from Kentucky to Maryland to tell the gospel to these two people! I pray Cory also got saved.
Jeremiah shared more of the details before the whole group in a few minutes, just before the last session of the evening. When he had finished his account Craig asked someone to pray for Collin and Cory and the night’s session (it was now 9:00). The Lord moved me to pray, and during the prayer, I was overcome by God’s grace and goodness in bringing together things we had learned, and the power and love of God through Jeremiah. I couldn't help but break down in tears, and I didn’t care. I was praying to God, not to men. In my spirit I claimed in those two men’s salvation. I ended the prayer, just falling into the Father’s arms, praising Him. O Lord, to you be all glory and honor! May I decrease and you increase forever!
After the prayer, Jeremiah got up, came over, and gave me a hard hug. Craig suggested we sing “Thank You, Lord (for saving my soul).”
The last session was about some tips for presenting biblical truths, very helpful for newbies like me!
Afterward I noticed Rachel, Jessica, and Arielle retired immediately. It was kind of amusing, because it is so easy to get involved in conversations and go to bed late, that if you want any good amount of sleep, you have to not talk to anyone!
I went over to Josiah and Jeremiah again, and Nathanael was there again too. We talked some more, marveling over God’s work. Jeremiah suggested—since he was going to bed—that we commit our night to the Lord in prayer. Josiah began, then Nathanael, then Jeremiah, then I ended. It was another tearful and awe-struck prayer session! I feel such a bond with these brothers! God, your power is amazing, and we owe you everything. You loved us despite our deserving wrath, but we can’t love you even according to what you deserve! Thank you for the privilege to spread your love to the unlovable world.
Jeremiah went upstairs to spend time with his Lord and talk about the day with Him, while Josiah, Nathanael, and I decided to go for a walk. A young lady named Katie joined us after our prayer, feeling like she just missed something really important and deep. I felt sorry for her, because I have known what that’s like—walking in on the tail end of something so awesome and wishing I’d been there. So we invited her on our walk, and we walked probably a mile around the whole mall. She went in when we got back, but we men made lap after lap around the hotel while we talked some more. We must have walked four miles last night! What great fellowship!
I managed to get to bed at 11:30 and sleep seven hours. Nathanael stayed up talking about biblical things with Justin until 1:00 or so! What a sweet sleep, and a sweet remembrance of what God did yesterday. I am so thankful that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.