Hey Georges Creek family! Greetings again from Provo!
I wanted to send an update with another story to give y’all another frame of reference for the gospel work going on here. I hope that this story is an encouragement to y’all as you continue to live for Christ where you are.
Last week, one of the pastors at the church asked our team if we could spend this Tuesday helping a family in the church move. They weren’t able to renew the lease on their house and had to move quickly because the homeowners of their rental wanted to use the home. I was looking forward to the change of pace for the day. While I enjoy talking with people, it drains my energy pretty quickly, so I was happy to get a work day where I could do more work with my hands instead of my mouth. However, the work at the house didn’t last as long as we thought it would, so we had to figure out how to use the afternoon productively. I was a bit tired and grumpy. I hadn’t been able to sleep much the previous night and was disappointed that I would have to talk with more people that day instead of doing moving work. I wasn’t exactly sure where to go to talk to people. It was a bit late to go to my normal spot at Utah Valley University to talk with people in their cafeteria, so after a stop at the house, I decided to just head into town and see if I could find anyone there.
A Missed Opportunity
I went to get a coffee to help with my tiredness, and on the way, I saw two men in their late 30s sitting outside the local barbershop. As I passed them, I realized that I could have stopped to share the gospel with them. They were rather rough-looking guys, so I was a bit intimidated to approach them. I decided to go back that way after I got coffee. As I walked out of the coffee shop, I saw them getting up to walk back to work in the barbershop. I was disappointed that I had missed that opportunity, since chances like that in the main city are rare. I was disappointed in myself for messing that chance up, so I sat down on a bench to pray. I prayed simply that the Lord would use me despite my sinfulness and hesitancy towards sharing His gospel. I got up and went to the bus station. I don’t normally like trying to share the gospel on the bus, since you never know when someone will have to get off, but I couldn’t think of any other place to go. I got on.
Conversations on the Bus
As I was riding, a BYU student named Matt got on the bus in a seat next to me. He was wearing earbuds and listening to something on his phone. I asked him what he was listening to, and after that we made some general small talk. I explained to him a little bit about why I was here and asked him about his experience growing up LDS. He explained that it had been a positive experience for him and that he liked reading the Book of Mormon because it made him feel good and seemed true to him. I was hoping to talk more, but he had to get off at the next stop.
To my surprise, a man in a seat one row ahead of me turned back and began to ask me some questions about the previous conversation. He was a former Catholic who converted to Mormonism some time ago. I had asked Matt why he was LDS, and this man returned the question to me, asking why I was an evangelical. I was able to share with him why I think the Jesus of the Bible is different than the Jesus of the Book of Mormon, and that there’s just something different about the Jesus of the Bible; he’s not just a God, but the God. God in the flesh. He gave a slight smile and told me that he didn’t believe in the Trinity anymore. Just then, his stop came up and he got up to get off. As he did, he asked the man beside him if he was Mormon, the man said he was and my new friend replied, “then this young man wants to talk to you.” As the bus was stopped, I moved to the seat next to my new conversation partner. His name was Randy. He grew up LDS and used to be active, but didn’t have a favorable opinion of organized religion anymore. He still practiced Mormon social customs, but mainly for his wife, who was still active LDS. We talked some more for a few minutes and then he asked me some questions about myself and why I was here. I told him that I was here to study LDS culture as an evangelical and engage in conversation about the Bible and Jesus. I told him that it was funny that he mentioned that he didn’t like organized religion because it was corrupt, and I got to share with him that evangelical Christians agree. Because all people are corrupt, the more corrupt people you get into a room, the more corrupt things become. I was able to tell him that that’s why the Bible says we need Jesus, because we’re corrupt sinners. He nodded with a smile and we continued talking about various other topics around Christianity. Soon after, we reached the end of the bus route and he got off to take the train to Salt Lake City.
Summary and Encouragement
Even though none of the people I talked to were receptive towards the biblical gospel, these conversations stood out to me for a few reasons. First, it makes me thankful to see that
I really do believe the message of the Bible. I am a sinful person with a corrupt heart. I don’t want to share the gospel as often as I should, but the God of the Bible is a God who truly answers the prayers that we pray according to His character and uses us to accomplish His mission. He loves to show His great power by using sinful, weak people like me (1 Corinthians 1:26-31).
Second, these conversations stand out to me because of how ironic they were. I don’t normally like to use the bus as a place to share the gospel because it’s hard to have a longer conversation. What did God do? He gave me one long conversation with three people who all passed the baton to the next person. I know this isn’t something that happened by chance, but is something that God orchestrated for His glory (Proverbs 16:9, 33). Praise the Lord that
I miss you all and can’t wait to see you soon!