I get many unique opportunities for evangelism, just like many of you. Some of these come in the ordinary events of life. A news story in yesterday’s paper reminded me of a recent such witnessing moment I had in Atlanta outside Turner Field.
The press reported in Wednesday’s papers (8-31-05) that the "world’s oldest person (115), Hendrikje van Andel-Schipper," died this week in Amsterdam. Known as "Henny" she was born in 1890 and thus vividly recalled both Word Wars and a host of other memories. Louis Epstein of the Gerontology Research Group in Los Angeles, which verifies age claims for the Guinness Book of Records, reported that the oldest person in the world is now Elizabeth Jones Bolden of Memphis, Tennessee, who tuned 115 on August 15 of this year. The Geronootolgy Group tracks the supercentenarians, or those 110 and older. There are only 66 living.
I noted above I had a witnessing experience in Atlanta recently. I rode in a cab with a driver who believes that Christ and Christians are the real problem in America. He made some very good points against us to be honest. But what he did believe was startling to me. He is saving money to move to Jerusalem in order to be part of a messianic group that follows the teachings of a black messiah who teaches the Tanakh (our Old Testament) is the only word of God. What he puts his hope in is long life on the earth through living well and eating right and by serving the cause of the true messiah.
This man was so determined to make his point to me that he had a hard time listening to me at all. I tried several times, but to no avail for over ten minutes. Finally, I asked him how long he hoped to actually live? He had no clear answer but felt it could exceed one hundred years. I asked about the super long ages recorded in Genesis and he felt this was still possible. I then asked, "Even if you live 8oo years on the earth you will still die. What then?" He would not answer me. He denied the resurrection, saying it was a Christian myth. I asked him if the knew this verse in the Tanakh that reads:
But I know that my Vindicator lives; in the end He will testify on earth—this, after my skin will have peeled off. But I would behold God while still in my flesh" (Job 19:25-26, The Jewish Study Bible, Tanakh Translation).
He kept deflecting my point. I reached my hotel and said to him, "So, if you move to Jerusalem and live to be 100-plus years old you will still die. After this you say there is nothing. What if you are wrong? What if there is something else? What if you miss it? What if you are meant to live on the earth, in your flesh, for ever and ever?" He offered what amounted to no answer. I prayed he would think about this all day long until God touched his heart. Sometimes this is all you can do in witnessing to another person.
The resurrection is our real and only hope. Afterall, if only 66 people are alive today who exceed 110 years my cab driver in Atlanta doesn’t have much time left. For that matter neither nor do you and I.
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Great point; it’s the pebble that you can only pray will stay in the shoe long enough to get his attention. Pascal’s wager is indeed a powerful challenge for anyone in any century–perhaps for us Christians more than anyone.