I thought, "If I cannot change the atmosphere in this place in the next four weeks, then I have no right to stand behind a pulpit thinking the atmosphere will change!"
Would you believe me, if I toldl you, that I feel extremely refreshed after spending four weeks with (in their words 'staunch') atheists, buddhist, and some random people? (From N. America, Europe and Asia) It's been 4 weeks of full on swearing without any excuses while proudly talking about girlfriends (this is a nice term) in details that are not appropriate for me to divulge here. "In the face" is quite an understatement!
During my Thai Language class at one point in the first week, the one man loudly swore again as he did often - "Oh Jesus Christ" I said - "you mean the one that is very much alive?" He did not flinch because it did not matter who believed what. How refreshing!
By the end of week three, I had such a love for these guys that I literally cried before the Lord over them back at home. They are nice, smart business men studying with me. Why did I feel refreshed? They had no "make-up" on, no "nice-manners" They were themselves without apology. We had such nice "word-fights" And I... I could be myself (loud-in-da-face) with zero apology too! & WITHOUT being judged for being too harsh or unloving or whatever the goody-goodies always say.
I think I had a glimpse why Jesus spent time with "the lost" and not the "bible bashing Pharisees" who knew it all.
Because I travel so often, we will not be in the same class again. I knew it from the start and really had to trust that without saying a word to some degree, that something in the atmosphere would change enough for them to ask me questions. And it actually happened during week three.
After briefly sharing why I am single (of course that was going to come out at SOME point) the moment of truth came. But first... Mr. Staunch Atheist said: "Please, just not the "A" word. Just don't tell me it is the "A" word. Oh, and he was serious. He leaned very close to my face while saying it.
I was lost for a moment. A? What on earth was he talking about? I am a fast processor but my innocence got me this time. I said: "What is "A"? (They sometimes used terms that I have NEVER heard. Apps that I had no idea existed. Sometimes... I walked out... to "make coffee"... you know... so that my ears did not need to hear... nor my eyes see their phones...)
Just don't tell me you believe in "Abstinence!" Hahaha. THIS WAS MY MOMENT. I very, very calmly replied with the shortest version of why I do, and my 2002 story where a dream of saying no to marriage and yes for full time missions literally came true.
The second atheist fell back into his chair and loudly said "WOW!" At that very moment, with the power of a testimony, the atmosphere changed. I could even sense how respect from 3 men in the room washed toward me. Then came the question, 'You can hear God... in the daytime?'... as if... God cannot speak in the day time. (Oh, remember - atheist don't believe in God)
That same day I was peppered with questions about the Bible, gays & lesbians that "you born again believers hate" and so forth. (I did not even say I am born again...) I told him, God made sex and he made it real good - The man interrupted me and with a pointy finger said "OH YEAH! He did a good job with that!" I continued to say that my belief is that it ought to be in the context of marriage...
Then he said - "Your Bible, full of errors, hate gays - that is your Jesus" I said, No. I do not believe that. He loves the gays.
He looked at me... really looked at me, as if I just said something he never ever thought of. He said REALLY? I said... Really! It was not the moment to go into Religious talk about "God loves the sinner but hates the sin" (which I believe). It was a moment where an Atheist needed to hear: God actually loves all people, regardless. I mentioned that God is the Judge not I, and because he is Good and Love and Righteous, I will leave righteous judgement for him - it is not my place to judge. If ever I floored an atheist... it was that moment. There was a lot less swearing the next couple of days.
On another day, I took one of the younger guys for lunch. We had an incredible conversation! I told him that God has a call on his life. He had no idea that thought even existed. He has never heard that God is a loving Father... even-though he "grew up" Catholic till he decided to drop it all.
I took another student (older nice guy!) up the highest mountain with his family, and he invited me to share the Gospel with his oldest son at his home over a meal. This will take place this week. Oh, I was so super excited at this invitation.
I bought the 3rd student a gift that surprised him. I cried a lot over this man. It is hard when one can sense the love of God towards a person that shuns Him...
The 4th will receive his gift (A Bible) on my last day. He is a Buddhist... but God is on his case.
Paul said: Share the Gospel in and out of season. If done in Love with Wisdom with no judgement, it is amazing what Holy Spirit can do.
Next week I am off to Costa Rica and the USA for 3 weeks. Remember I did not plan to go, so God must have something in store. Thus I am VERY excited to see what will unfold.
Thanks for always praying for me.