Saturday, February 11, 2006

"Wristwatch" Evangelism

No, I am not talking about evangelism where you keep looking down at your watch wondering if its time to go home yet! What I am taking about is a scenario that I experienced that a friend recently reminded me of that I think will help you in your soul winning.

Exodus 4:1-21 gives the account of when God called Moses to be the one who would deliver the children of Israel out of Egyptian captivity. When God told Moses his assignment, Moses answered, "What if they do not believe me or listen to me and say, 'The LORD did not appear to you'?"Then the LORD said to him, "What is that in your hand?" "A staff," he replied."

Moses had already offered a ton of excuses to God as to why he shouldn't (or couldn't) be the right person for the job: "I can't talk the way that I should." "They won't believe me." (The excuses really haven't changed too much in the past several thousand years.)

Then God asked him, "What is that in your hand?" To which Moses responded, "A staff." It was just God saying to him, "I will take whatever is readily available and use it to accomplish my will." What is it that "is in your hand" for God to use to reach those in the bondage of sin?

I believe that the Holy Spirit is telling us in this late hour, "Don't be concerned about the substance of what you have to offer the world by way of deliverance from their bondages; but rather entrust your lives in what I have to offer as the Deliverer!"

Wristwatch Evangelism:

While my daughter, Kayla, and I were in New York City doing street evangelism last year, I bought a knock-off wristwatch from a vendor in Times Square because I had forgotten mine at home in New Orleans.

The vendor had replicas of such famous names as Rolex, Patek Philippe, Girard-Perregaux, Cartier and others. While they may have born the name and the style of these costly time pieces, at $10.00 each, they fit more comfortably into my limited budget than a multi-thousand dollar gold and platinum wristwatch.

I picked out a pretty classy looking watch that seemed to be keeping the appropriate time and wore it for the remainder of our trip (and it never turned my wrist green either). Upon arriving back in the City, I continue to sport my new watch whenever I left the house.

About a month after we returned home from NYC, our friends Pastor Sam & Lucy Croghan and their two kids (Joshuah, and Megahan) from Pennsylvania, came for a visit and to help out on some outreach. One night as we fed and ministered to the homeless in Jackson Square, I invited Pastor Sam to accompany me down to Bourbon Street to see what was going on.

As we walked up Saint Peter St. towards Bourbon, I noticed a man standing at the window of a fine jewelry store on the corner of Royal St. He was looking into the wire-covered glass at all things, a display of wristwatches.

Passing behind him I said, "You see anything in there that you like?" Half startled he nervously answered, "Yeah, those are nice" and quickly began to walk away from the window and toward Bourbon Street himself.

I filed in next to him and immediately held up my wrist to reveal my shiny reproduction watch and asked, "What do you think of this one?" He stopped so that he could get a closer look in the dim lighting and said, "Man, that is a nice watch!"

Without really even thinking about it, I quickly released the clasp and removed it from my wrist and said, "Here, its yours. Put it on." Sheepishly taking it from my outstretched hand he asked in disbelief, "Are you serious?"

I said, "I am completely serious. Its yours." Thinking that it was some kind of Police sting operation he scanned the area with his eyes and said, "No way, I can't take this from you."

That is when I knew why I had really bought that watch in NYC and why I would quickly remove it and offer it to this man on the street.

I said to him, "You don't want to take it because you think that it is too valuable and that you don't deserve it, right?"

"Yeah, no one ever does anything like that for me!" he responded.

"You can't believe that someone would just walk up to you, a total stranger to you, and offer you free of charge something that you perceive as more valuable than anything that you personally own." I said to this man.

"No, those things just don't happen to me," he emphatically answered.

"This is just a watch. Its a piece of jewelery. It has a value that someone placed upon it. It can be replaced. But, someone else, who you do not know, has offered you something that you do not deserve and that you could not have expected--that is priceless."

"You may not have known it, but God found all of us walking down a lonely street and offered us the gift of His very only Son, Jesus."

"He is not a cheap replica. He can never be replaced. But, He has offered Him to you free of charge."

As I continued to share with him the Good News of salvation, he just looked down at the wristwatch now adorning his arm. You could see that it was registering with him. He got it. He understood what it was that God had done in sending Jesus to die upon the cross for our redemption---and all that it cost me was a $10.00 wristwatch (and being sensitive to the Holy Spirit of grace).

Pastor Sam and I prayed for the man and he went his way that night, but I know that ever time that he looks down at that shiny time piece he'll remember the ultimate free gift of Jesus.

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