CLARKSBURG – In His sovereignty God controls all, even the lightning (Job 38:35). And it was that very power we were able to see on display this week as our ministry in Glen Elk continues. Rain was continuously forecast throughout the day, yet we were blessed with a about a 3 hour window in which to operate. As usual, the Prayer Stand was a draw and started things off. We first conversed with an Internet-ordained “clergyman”, then I preached to a crowd on the corner while the rest of the team had other conversations. Again, the Lord was faithful in giving us opportunities.
No Real Authority
Our first conversation began with a man who’s responses were given with a sly fox look on his face. Shortly after the conversation began, he whipped out his “credentials” and flashed them before us to affirm his legitimacy. He was “ordained” by Universal Life Church, which is a mishmash of all religions being equal. His “ordination” consisted of an online form that he completed.
We tried to lead him through a Gospel-centric conversation, but to no avail. His thoughts were scattered and randomly passed from works-righteousness to professing a belief in Jesus, only to then deny he needed the Bible to know God. Finally, after about the third time he made the remark “I can marry and bury people, that’s what I do”, I challenged him. I asked, “On who’s authority?” He again wondered from idea to idea and continued to land back in religious pluralism. After several minutes, he eventually mentioned that he did not see how God could forgive him for his past, though Adam and I stated otherwise from Scripture. He did admit that he didn’t read the Bible because it was too hard to read. After showing him an ESV Bible that we give away, he took it. Pray for Howie that God would intervene and shake him from the illusion that he is in, much less the damage he may cause to others because of his fraudulent credentials.
I felt the Lord’s protection more than once. I sincerely feel that he stemmed the tide of aggression… – Adam Felder, ACM Evangelist
Deflecting Rather than Dealing
As I began to preach, Adam, Dylan, and Waylon engaged in a conversation with Rod. The conversation was frustrating as he deflected all attempts to turn the conversation to spiritual things. He was very interested in shooting the breeze, but was altogether uninterested when the discussion deepened.
Waylon and Dylan continued to pry on Rod for a while longer. He admitted that he was unable to “do enough good works” to satisfy a holy God or earn his way to heaven, but when asked what the solution was, he remarked, “I’m not sure, I just hope I make it.” When we explained that there is no way to be assured of eternal life outside of surrendering your life to Christ and believing in him alone as our assurance, he nodded and agreed but quickly deflected again. Overall, he seemed kind and lonely. He was willing to endure (and deflect) a few penetrating questions to be able to stay and chat as long as we would have him. Pray for Rod.
Confronted with the Gospel
During the preaching, a few guys came over to get Bibles. As Adam refilled the Bibles on our table, he had the opportunity to begin a dialogue. Matt and Matt were their names. The younger of the two asked for prayer, the older Matt joined us for prayer but seemed distracted and paranoid. After prayer, Adam asked them their thoughts on God, to which the older Matt said “He’s just and merciful”. He was shocked at such an insight. The younger Matt grew uncomfortable with the conversation and took off. The older, paranoid, Matt stayed back to talk.
Soon into that 1-1 he asked why Adam kept his hand in his pocket. The question was so odd, he had to ask it twice. Adam reassured him it was only his keys that he was fiddling with. Matt had a history of friends letting him down, being blamed for things, felt that Clarksburg was “demonic” and yet claimed to be a Christian because he’s been baptized, read the Bible cover to cover, and yet… still did drugs from time to time because nobody’s perfect and “God made them” after all. On more than one occasion he would say completely random things and look at Adam as if he would lash out at any point.
As it began to rain Adam encouraged him to begin reading the gospel of John that evening. Matt ended the conversation by shaking Adam’s hand (for a very long, awkward time) and telling him and others in our group that he loved us and that the big problem with Clarksburg was “Ice” (crystal meth). Matt also stated that he “knew all about Jesus, that we shouldn’t judge, and that if killed he wouldn’t stay dead but reincarnate the next day.” Please pray for Matt and Matt.
Per Adam recounting the evening, “I personally learned a lot about my posture, being aware of my hands (as others may not trust me if they can’t see my hands), and I felt the Lord’s protection more than once. I sincerely feel that he stemmed the tide of aggression in Matt more than once. His grace continues.”
Are You Born Again?
On my way to Glen Elk, I checked the mail on the way out of my driveway. To my surprise, the tracts I requested from Chapel Library had arrived! (I encourage you to support their ministry as they provide free tracts.) Among the tracts from the likes of Spurgeon and Bunyan, was a tract entitled, “Are You Born Again?” It was written by the great J.C. Ryle. It gives 6 marks of a truly born-again believer from 1 John. I decided to use it as the foundation for my sermon as many are lost in the works-righteousness camp there due to unbiblical evangelism methods from churches all around.
Afterwards (at end of video), as the rain began to fall, I was able to give the listeners a copy of that tract. While it was a joy to preach that message and give it to them in tract form to take with them, God had one last joy to show. A young woman who we met the first night on the street whom we shared the Gospel with and have been praying for, delightfully told me she finally has her own place for her and her daughter. Please continue to pray for Hannah and her daughter Henley.
All in all, another good night of ministry. God continues to be faithful to us. Please continue to keep us in prayer.
Soli Deo Gloria!