Random Conversations

“Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.” Hab 2:2
“They shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent,” Isaiah 62:6b

 

[3] I’m a little behind on my posts because last week I went to the ACFW (Association of Christian Fiction Writers) conference in Nashville. I like to travel alone at times like this to see what God will do, and this trip seemed to fit a lifetime of experiences into 5 exhilarating days. If you don’t like to travel for some reason, whether it’s the flying, or the stress of making decisions and meeting schedules, take Jesus with you and it’s a whole new experience.

I discussed in my last article that a simple way to be prepared is to keep a few tracts with you to offer someone, or to leave with a tip. Well, I’m kind of “out there,” and I also found a favorite T-shirt I like to wear when I street-witness, or sometimes when I run errands, or go somewhere big, like Disneyland, and I especially like to wear it when I fly. It says:

YOU NEED JESUS. I’M JUST SAYING.”

I like this T-shirt because it has the clear Gospel message in an easy to read font, rather than some shirts that have a vague message, or the font is hard to read at a glance. Also, it says the most important word that people need to know—Jesus–and the message is delivered with humor, not antagonism.

Whenever I fly, I always wear this shirt. It turns a dull, often tedious experience into an exciting purposeful mission with God. From the moment I step out of the car onto the curb, people are reading the clear, simple message. When I am going through security, every person I pass sees it as we snake back and forth through the lines. Then, I pass hundreds of people while walking to my gate. But it doesn’t stop there. After I find my gate, I make an excursion throughout the terminal, walking unhurriedly through the concourse, past stores, through food courts, pausing and lingering near gates as if I am just checking things out. All these people, sitting around, or walking by, notice my shirt. I see them see it.

Then there’s all the people boarding my plane, and eventually the terminal at my destination airport. By the time I exit that airport, thousands of people have read the simple Gospel message, and I haven’t said a single word. After that, God can do what He wants in the hearts of those people, wherever they are in their faith journey. I simply gave Him a quick opening to speak to them.

I know it’s effective because I have Christians cross the room to tell me they love the shirt, and it encourages them. I have non-believers tell me they think it’s funny, and they often smile when they read it. They appreciate the frank, yet non-judgmental message.

There’s only one catch—when I wear the shirt, I have to be a really nice person, and that’s not always easy. We deal with a lot of different people and inconveniences when we travel, or simply run errands. Sometimes our expectations aren’t met, and we have to deal with someone over them. There have been many times when I have found myself becoming impatient with a situation, and had wait, or to plead my case. Sometimes I forget I’m wearing the shirt, and then right in the middle of working myself up, God has to remind me to be gracious. It shouldn’t be the shirt that determines my patience, but when I wear it, I certainly commit myself to making the extra effort.

But at the same time, I am generally quite conscious of wearing it, and when I put it on, it is because I plan to be intentional that day with how I act and treat people. While my ungracious behavior can reflect poorly on Jesus, my gracious engagement of others helps represent Jesus as a loving, kind Savior.

Now, many of you will never feel called to wear such a T-shirt (I have the hoodie version too, for when it gets cool: “Y’ALL NEED JESUS”). But you can still go out into the world with intention, as if you are wearing one. The strange effect that wearing the T-shirt has had on me, is that when I DO wear it, I actually feel the power of the message across my chest—as if I am wearing a super-hero emblem. I wear that shirt so often that even when I am in regular or professional clothes, the sense that I am still wearing this Jesus emblem often remains. I feel like the world can see that I belong to Jesus. It’s strange because although the original sensation came from my awareness of the shirt itself, it has turned into an awareness that the person of Jesus is emblazoned on my soul, and that people will be able to see Him in me, if I am intentional in my heart every day.

For this reason, one of the most effective things I can do as a Christian to show Jesus’s love, whether I am wearing the shirt or not, is to start random conversations with people—particularly with people who seem invisible. Wherever I go, God has put it on my heart to have an eye for “the least of these,” whatever that means. It’s the tired person behind the cash register, the cleaning people who quietly work around us, the guard standing watch by the doorway. These people are surprised when someone notices them and smiles, or asks, “How ya doing? You hanging in there?”

People shouldn’t be surprised when they matter to a stranger, but they are. And we shouldn’t be surprised if God uses such moments to do some quick, but deep work in someone now and then. I’ve had people confess to me their worries and stresses at the slightest invitation to communicate. You also learn quickly that people are not at all what they seem.

I had several little exchanges like this on my trip. It seems that after just a few kind words, people’s days just seem a bit brighter. I don’t share the Gospel with all of them, but if they are in a talking mood, I try to encourage them, and sometimes I pray for them, right there on the spot. Even if I don’t, many seem encouraged by something simple like, “Well, God loves you, and He has a good plan for your life. He sees you, and if you ask Him, He’ll help you through this.” People have a hard time believing that God cares about them, but when a perfect stranger says those words, it’s like a prophecy that they take to heart.

One of the most interesting exchanges I had on this trip was with a quiet Filipino woman named Lila who was inconspicuously cleaning in the women’s bathroom at the hotel where I was staying. She was patiently waiting for each stall to be cleared so she could enter and check it. When I was drying my hands, she was standing by her cart, waiting for another stall to open. I turned around and smiled, “How are you doing today?”

She nodded with a little smile as she pulled up her rubber gloves, “Fine. How are you?”

“Oh, I’m enjoying my stay, thank you.” Then I noticed she was wearing a cross, so I said, pointing at my own cross as I stepped closer to her, “I see you are wearing a beautiful cross. Are you a Christian?”

At this, her smile got very big, and she became quite animated as she quietly began to explain, “Oh, yes! I pray all the time. I am always praying. I pray for the people here that I see, and whenever someone posts that they have a problem on facebook, I pray to Jesus for them. I make lists so I remember to pray for all the people. They need prayer so much!”

Lila’s brief but exuberant testimony was so encouraging to me, and a good reminder that we all have a ministry–and thank God we don’t all have the same ministry. God made this quiet, humble woman a mighty prayer warrior, and people passing her every day wouldn’t even know that some blessing might come to them because of her faithfulness.

We chatted excitedly together for a few minutes, two sisters in the faith. I am certain that when the other ladies heard us, and saw us hugging joyfully as we parted, they must have thought we had been old friends, reunited after losing each other a long time.

Such is the Kingdom of Heaven.

“And the King will answer and say to them, Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.” Matt 25:40

2 Responses

  • The sentence that caused me to pause was —As if I am wearing a super-hero emblem—You were. So was the lovely lady in the ladies room by wearing a cross. We all need Jesus—I’m just saying.

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