Secret Non-Believers Know about Christians
A page from the book, The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into Thorny Places by Shayne Wheeler.
An excerpt from the book tells a story of modern day churches as it reaches out to non-church people. Enjoy.
Within hours, my high flying dream of evangelistic stardom had begun to stall as, one after another, the disinterested denizens of Brighton Beach accepted one of our tracts, gave it a quick glance and dropped it without even breaking stride. The discarded leaflets began to pile up in the trash cans and blow like forsaken tumbleweeds on the streets of this bustling city. “Rather than capturing a city for Christ, we were creating more work for the New York City sanitation workers. By the end of the day, my evangelistic fervor was in a steep death spiral
Welcome to earth, Shayne. I hope you enjoyed your flight.
By the third day, embarrassment had given way to a growing cynicism. We decided to move our team our to the famous boardwalk, where folks would presumably be more jovial, friendly, and open to our efforts.
This was not a good move.
The unrepentant littering continued. One member of our team approached two men who may have been members of the Russian mafia. After treating him to a litany of profanity and threats, on of the men pulled bakc his jacket to reveal a holstered handgun, not so politely inviting our teenager to walk away and not return.
Things were not going as planned.
Disillusioned, I stopped near a bench overlooking the ocean, where an elderly gentleman in a well word fedora sat watching the waves, wooden cane hooked on the backrest. Judging him unlikely to be hiding a gun under his faded green summer jacket, I at down to lick my wounds.
A saline breeze had begun to move onshore. “Rain is coming,” he said in heavily accented English.
“uh-huh,” I replied/
“What brings you to boardwalk?”
“These stupid tracts.”
“What are they about?”
“Jesus.” I muttered.
“You think Jesus is stupid?”
“We’ve handed out thousands of these, and most have ended up on the ground. It feels no different than if they were restaurant coupons or flyers for one of the strip clubs.”
“Yes. Everybody is selling something.” the man agreed. But if your Jesus is so important to you Christians, why do you make us read? You say he lives in you – so why you don’t show him to us?”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“You give me a piece of paper that says your belief about Jesus, but you don’t know me. Why don’t you want to know me? A paper is just paper. Your paper is not different than another piece of paper so why should I read a paper from a stranger? If you are Christian and Jesus is in you like you say, do not bother me with paper. Do not be a stranger.”
“Ok.” I replied, uncertain of what to say next.
“Hello. I am Ilya,” he said, holding out his hand. “From Russia.”
I had a feeling he was teaching me a thing or two about Jesus and I wasn’t sure I was going to like it. Control is not something I surrender easily.
“I’m Shayne, from . . . well, I guess I am from Virginia now.”
Stop broadcasting. Start Listening.