This story was written on July 19, 2009, and reprinted from another blog.
Marissa and I, along with several brothers and sisters in Christ, attended the annual City of Glendale "Cruise Night." Hundreds of classic and custom cars, and tens of thousands of people, filled about 1/2 mile of Brand Boulevard.
We were blessed to distribute thousands of gospel tracts. David and I open-air preached and I also read John 3 twice as part of this week's Project Ezra effort.
Here's a video of one of the John 3 readings.
Marissa and I had parked at the KKLA studios. We began the walk back at about 8PM, thinking that would give us plenty of time to get to the studios in time for me to co-host Last Words Radio.
Having picked up our gear, I shouldered my cross and we headed north toward the studios. I walked all of one hundred feet when a young man looked at my cross and yelled, "I'm ready!"
"Are you sure?"
"What makes you so sure? On what basis should God let you into heaven?"
"Because, he will see that I've done more good than bad!"
His name was Pablo.
Pablo, who had been walking the opposite direction, reversed his course and walked up to me. I noticed that there was a couple sitting on a low retaining wall watching and listening intently.
"Pablo, your good deeds will not help you."
"No, they won't. Have you ever been in a courtroom?"
"Okay. Let's say you were arrested for stealing a car. On the day of sentencing, the judge asks you, 'Pablo, what do you have to say for yourself?' You admit to the judge that you stole the car and you say you're sorry. Then you say, 'Your honor: I've helped two little old ladies across the street. I've given to the poor. And I've even started going to church. So, I think you should just forget about the whole thing.'
"Pablo, is the judge going to let you go?"
"That's right. It doesn't matter how many good things you do. You are still guilty of breaking the law. And the same will be true when you stand before God. If you've ever lied, stolen anything, looked at someone with lust, or taken God's name in vain; he will find you guilty of breaking His Law. And all of the good deeds in the world will not change that.
"And if God finds you guilty, Pablo, He is going to punish your sin and send you to hell for all eternity."
The machismo with which Pablo initiated the conversation and approached me was now gone. In it's place was the face of a young man who had come to realize that he wasn't as good as he thought he was.
Pablo realized he wasn't ready for eternity.
"Pablo, let's go back to the courtroom."
I shared a courtroom analogy with Pablo, which I used to transition into a presentation of the gospel. As I asked Pablo if he had a million dollars to pay the fine the judge required, the man who had been sitting on the retaining wall listening to the conversation sprang to his feet. He walked up to Pablo and handed him a million dollar bill gospel tract.
"Here. Take this!" The man said, as he shoved the gospel tract into Pablo's hand.
The look on Pablo's face was priceless. First, Pablo must have thought that his quick, walk-by heckle of the guy carrying the cross would produce nothing more than a laugh for himself. That didn't work out for him as planned. And now some other stranger (a stranger to both of us) is handing him a million dollar bill.
After I shared the gospel with Pablo, I asked him if it made sense. He said that it did.
"Pablo, thanks for talking to me. Please read the back of that million dollar bill. Okay?"
We shook hands and Pablo walked away.
"That was great!" Said the man sitting on the retaining wall. "Someone gave me that million dollar bill. I read it and thought it was so cool to see the gospel on the back of it. When I heard you tell him about the million dollar fine, I just had to give it to him."
"Well, here's some more." I said as I handed the man a small stack of Michael Jackson million dollar bills.
"Thanks! I will definitely hand these out to people who need them!"
"And thank you for the encouragement." I said.
Once again, my cross proved to be an effective tool for initiating a conversation with a lost person.
It took Marissa and I a full hour to walk the half-mile to the studios. The reason: others would stop me along the way, asking the question, "Ready for what?"