As a preacher, it's easy to get discouraged when you think your messages are falling on deaf ears.
I've been working with Pastor Ed Kanapple at the Gift of God Street Church for almost 4 years now, and we see all kinds of people come through our doors. People have problems. We see people ranging all the way from the recently divorced guy who lost everything, to alcohol and drug abusers, mentally ill people, runaways, and those who just have dropped out of society. It's easy to see the spiritual battle with these people because they don't bother trying to hide behind a mask... they are just a mess and theirs no hiding it.
I was a mess, not all that long ago. I had my own legal problems, my own divorce, my own time of being without a job. God saw all of this and loved me anyway.
Romans 5:6-11 says For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
This is the message of hope we bring each day and night at Gift of God, but many times we don't see any response, which is ok because we are called to plant seeds and be ambassadors for the kingdom.
However, sometimes we do get to see someone respond. I never call for an emotional response during my messages. I try to teach something simple and give a tie in with the good news of the gospel, and then I invite them to think about these things and come see me or Pastor Ed if they have and questions and we'll spend as much time as they need to talk over the gospel, to show in the Bible what the gospel is. Last night, a young man who is just out of prison within the past few months, asked to talk to me.
He didn't give me the same stuff I was used to hearing, things like "I'm trying to find my way back to God", or "I just need to clean up my life", or "I need this so my girlfriend will come back to me". He told me that he had prayed a prayer before to "ask Jesus into his heart", but all of those times were for an ulterior motive like being invited to a party or a dinner or something like that.
I asked two simple questions, since I knew that he had been hearing every angle we could possible preach the gospel with. I asked "do you know why you are a sinner?" and he responded that "He was born a sinner and he commits sin all the time". I asked him "is there anything he could do to earn his salvation?" and he responded "no, because it's a free gift of God". I told him that if he puts his trust in what Jesus did on the cross as the payment of his sins and repents of his sinful life turning away from it and turning towards Jesus to follow him, that he can be saved today. This young man told me that was exactly what he wanted. We prayed and thanked Jesus for saving us and I thanked Jesus for making a place for this young man in His Kingdom.
Do I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that this young man is saved? No, but I will continue to disciple him and see if there is a change in his life. Only time will tell if he is a fruit bearing Christian or a false convert, but I'm praying that he will be fruitful and his life will bear witness to being a new creation in Christ Jesus.