As I was looking through my undergrad papers, I found one describing an evangelistic encounter for my evangelism class. This event happened in 2007, before I had felt a strong call to the military Chaplaincy. Today I realize that God was working/preparing me all along.
November 25, 2007
Personal Evangelism Encounter
On a Friday night, I decided to go out with Campus Mission Fellowship Streets. . Today was my first time going out with them, and Michael Krysty was leading the group. My expectations were high I just knew God had something plan this night. It would not be long before this was true. God indeed did something that night.
When we first arrived we did a prayer walk. Our group leaders separated us into three smaller groups, and we were to circle the downtown area until we meet at the square. As we walked we silently prayed for the local businesses that God would use them for His glory, and we prayed for the residents of the community. We arrived to the Square and realized out of the three groups only one had returned. They told us that the third group was at the Mud House, so my group decided to go and get some coffee, also. I really did not feel like going, but because the ones wanting to go were all ladies and needed a male presence, I went along.
While we were in the Mud House waiting for drinks, we had several conversations with some Baptist Bible College student. It was great having a conversation with them, but I was expecting to have the opportunity tonight to reach the lost. Once we got our drinks we walked back to the Square.
I noticed that some from the other groups were speaking to an older man; actually, he was doing most of the talking. As I joined them, I realized that he was drunk and had not bathed in some days. He was telling a story from his past about a war. I realized that he was a veteran like me. I wondered what branch of the military he was in, so I asked Mike if he knew. Mike answered that he was a Marine and proceeded to tell the old man that I was in the Army.
The man turned to me and asked, “You were in the Army?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Eighty second Airborne or one hundred and first” He asked quizzically.
I smiled and said, “Neither, 62nd Medical Brigade.”
Jokingly he retorted, “Uhh, you were an Army brat.”
The fact he was drunk became more evident to me since I could smell his breath, and because that statement did not make much sense; an Army brat would be somebody whose parents are in the Army. In order to drive the conversation forward, I told him I was a medic.
He looked at me and said in a more serious tone, “I like medics. Those guys really helped me.”
“I’m still trying to help you, not your body this time but your soul.”
He looked down as if something struck him, and said, “What is my purpose?” Before I could answer he asked, “What is your purpose?”
“To honor God and do his will,” I responded.
He again laughed and said, “So, now you are a soldier for Christ.”
“You could say that,” I replied.
“Maybe that’s my purpose,” he said .
At that point everybody responded with either a “maybe” or a “yes.”
Then I asked him, “You remember basic training?”
“yeah,” he said.
“It was hard, wasn’t? Running, preparing yourself physically to be a marine?”
He smiled again and said, “Ohh yeah! I was in Parris Island.”
I said, “In the same manner you have to prepare your body and your spirit in order to be a soldier of Christ; it takes hard work.”
“I have done many evil things; I don’t think God can forgive me. That it’s why I drink.” he said, showing the bottle of Vodka under his coat.
I gently replied, quoting scripture, “Is anything to hard for the Lord?” and continued “When we ran miles as a platoon and someone began to fall behind, what did we do?”
He stared at me looking for the answer. I continued, “We go back and grab him, and we help our ‘Battle buddy’ keep up, and stay in the run.” He nodded in agreement and I continued, “In the same way we pray for each other to help us stay in the run. Do you want us to pray for you?”
He looked down again and nodded. We all surrounded him and began to pray out loud for him. He knelt down as we continued to pray. After this, we told him we would come back. Other CBC students joined us, and we began to speak to other groups in the Square.
After this encounter I thought, “The Lord really used us.” I would have never come up with the idea of using my Army experience for evangelism. Come to think of it, Jesus did this when he spoke to the Samaritan woman by the well. He used water as an illustration for what she really needed. It was so easy that I knew it was God not me. Many times I wonder how God can use me. I have such a strong accent that many don’t have a clue about what I’m saying to them. Surprisingly he understood every word I said. Somewhere between me speaking and him hearing, God intervened.
I don’t believe that our conversations are over. This is going to require more encounters, but at least he knows that God has a purpose for his life, and that in order to achieve this purpose it requires hard work. I believe that someone else also told him that God loves him before I joined the conversation. I should have made sure he knew this also. I wish I would have been able to stay in the Square and be there from the beginning of the conversation. I have such a bad memory that I cannot remember his name. While there everyone called him “Gunny” after his rank in the Marines (Gunnery-sergeant). Now when I pray to God on his behalf I call him “Gunny” or the “man in the Square.” I have to write down his name next time I see him. I pray that he will be there next Friday; it would be great if he is sober, too.
My only concern now is if he makes a decision for Christ where do I send him to get help and get out of his situation? Maybe I should look into a local Teen Challenge program. I have to be ready not only to answer his question, but also to encourage him to change and grow while being part of a local church. I can’t help but to think that he would be a great Christian. He was once a good marine; I know this because few make it to the rank of Gunnery-sergeant. I know that if he puts the same passion and hard work into the service of the Lord, he will be a great soldier of Christ. I’m excited about him joining the fold; God has done it before and He can do it again. I just want to watch it happen.