Thursday, November 18, 2010

A New Life in Parking Lot

This afternoon, I went across the bridge to Pinellas County to attend a business luncheon that featured Attorney David Gibbs III as the guest speaker. There were a number of reasons for me to skip the luncheon. I had already heard David speak a few years ago. I had to drive across the bridge. I had a lot of work to do at the office. However, Dan Shock organized the event and encouraged a number of friends and me to attend. Although I was busy, I went ahead and put the luncheon on my calendar. While there, I found that I was truly blessed to be there.

I could go into detail about how great it was to hear David’s presentation. David is the lead attorney for the Christian Law Association, which was founded by his dad, and he played a prominent role in the Terri Schiavo case. David’s representation of Terri Schiavo’s parents attracted national and international attention. He had the attention of the Governor of Florida, the President, and both houses of Congress. He also presented the Schiavo case to the US Supreme Court. So, it seemed that I was privileged to share lunch with David and hear him speak. David was gracious as he talked about the judge that ruled against him, as well as Michael Schiavo. Among other things, during his presentation David pointed to the scripture in Matthew that notes “whatever you did for the least of these you did for me.”

The greater privilege, however, occurred after the luncheon. During the event a young man came through the door. The room was full of people wearing white shirts, ties, polo shirts and other attire that you would find at a business event. This young man was dressed more casually in overalls. At first I thought he was employed by the church and stopped in for lunch. As people mingled, I had the opportunity to talk to him and learned that he was 25 years old and out of work. I later learned that he was diabetic. I encouraged him not to give up on his job search. I then asked if I could pray for him and put a hand on his shoulder and prayed that he would find work, prayed for his future wife (I noticed he was not wearing a wedding ring), and prayed for his children (I did not think he was a father, but again praying for his future). I also prayed that God would regularly direct his steps. When I was done, he said that the prayer was interesting because he and his girlfriend believed that she might be pregnant.

I talked to a few more people and he stayed nearby. As we left the building, I felt prompted to ask him the critical question. “Stephen, if you died today, are you confident that you will be in heaven.” (or something very similar). He admitted that he was not sure. He talked about people seeming to have it together and being more religious than him. In other words, he was down on himself. I told him how Jesus exposed the religious leaders of the day for appearing clean on the outside, but being filthy on the inside. Then, I asked what does it take for a person to get to heaven. He said, you have to be a good person, and follow Jesus. At that point I stopped him. Those of us who follow Ray Comfort, Kirk Cameron and Todd Friel, know that the key words are good person.

Taking advantage of this opportunity, I presented a different twist on the good person test. It appeared that he was being down on himself, so instead of asking “have you ever told a lie” or “how many lies have you told,” I asked him do you know anyone that never told a lie. He said no. So I said that makes us all liars. I asked do you know anyone that never stole or cheated on his test. He said his grandmother (reveals the high level of respect that he has for her). Then I said besides her, anyone else? He said no. Then I asked do you know anyone that has not taken the Lord’s name in vain. He said no. Then I explained to him that I had just taken him through some of the Ten Commandment and that he and I are guilty of breaking all of them and that his grandmother may have broken 8 or 9 of them.

Then, I explained that God punishes sinners and asked if he knew what God did to keep us from going to Hell. He recognized that God sent Jesus to die for us. Then I elaborated on that by pointing out that Jesus was without sin, which is why he was able to die in our place. At that point, Dan came by and he knew exactly what was going on. I told Stephen, that I was reading in Romans 7 how our sinful nature makes us do the things that we don’t want to do and how it makes us fail to do the things that we want to do. After that I told him about Romans 8 and how the Spirit of God empowers us to walk in accordance with the Spirit and put to death our sinful nature. Then, we talked about repentance and putting his faith in Jesus. I asked him, are you ready to repent and put your faith in Jesus. He said yes. Wow! As I was talking, I started to get emotional, my voice was breaking. I turned to Dan and asked if he would pray with Stephen and he did. As Dan prayed, both Stephen and I were in tears.

Indeed, that was an amazing privilege to watch first hand as God added someone else to his Kingdom. Afterwards, Dan and I spent another 20 minutes or so encouraging him to grow in his faith.

Matt. 25:40 The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.

Two things stood out from this story:

1) How often do we tell someone that we will pray for them. I do it a lot. It is far better to be willing to pray for that person right there.

2) I almost walked away without asking the critical question. He said that was his church and I could have easily assumed he was a Christian.


Dan Shock said...

That's what its all about. A willingness to share our faith with a hurting and dying world.

One day we will give an account to the Lord with all He has given us including our willingness to reach out to even "the least of these"...

I was there and it was a privilege to watch Rich lead this young man to the Lord he loves so much!

zobanov said...

Amen, glad to see guying putting their faith to action. God bless!

zobanov said...

God bless you, guys. It's good to see business people put their faith to action.

Toyin O. said...

Praise God, what an awesome testimony:)

Rich Bradford said...

Thanks for stopping by and reading the story. Many blessings to you!

Anonymous said...

From an old November 2009 post of yours regarding Ray Comfort's Origin of Species stunt:

"Why the hostility towards Ray Comfort? From my humble perspective, you are winning. There are far more college students embracing the claims of evolution than those of special creation."

Good, I'm glad to see college students intelligent enough to stay far away from manipulative adult fairy tales and genocidal imaginary friends like Yahweh.

Oh, and the "hostility" to Ray Comfort is a RESPONSE. He brings it upon himself by being hostile toward legitimate science and supporting insane myths as fact.

But you go blaming everyone except Ray, even though you stand behind a religion that supposedly endorses personal responsibility.

Your blatant bias and intellectual dishonesty is embarassing.

And no, I don't want you to post this in your comments, but feel free. It was just an easy way to send you a message.

Rich Bradford said...

To anonymous at February 2, 2011, 1:19 pm, WOW!! Please send me your name. Thanks.