I thought this story from Ed Lee, (who has been a Christian for only eleven months), was so moving that I wanted to share it with you. You will be encouraged!
Last Saturday afternoon was amazing… the most amazing day I have ever experienced in the four months that I have been evangelizing. There were only 5 of us: Craig (the Animal); Dale (the Hawaiian Redwood); Veronica, who came out for the first time; my wife; and yours truly. Veronica was a little apprehensive because she had never attended any of our evangelism classes, but she said she saw something about the PIE (Pizza, Intercession, Evangelism) event, and just decided to come!! Dale said he didn’t feel inspired and had fought off thoughts of not showing up all morning. “Animal” is “Animal;” he’s up for anything! So I thought to myself, Self, looks like we have a ragtag band today. Undaunted, we gathered in our usual meeting place, dined on pizza, and prayed together. As we prayed, I consciously felt the Holy Spirit descend upon us. I gave everyone a pep talk, reminding them the Holy Spirit would not fail us. We then piled into the van and headed for the Redondo Beach Pier.
We hit the bricks and immediately went to work. It was a beautiful day, the sun sparkling off the ocean, and a gentle breeze wafting in the air. My wife and I headed up the south side of the pier where the fishermen hang out. I passed out some million-dollar bill Gospel tracts, and talked with a few people. I got to the end of the fishing area and stopped to talk to a Philipino man fishing with his family. I held out a bill and asked if he had gotten one yet. “Oh yes, I got one just a few minutes ago!” I asked him if he had read it. “No, no,” he said, shaking his head and looking away from me.
I then laid the million-dollar question on him, “If you were to die today would you go to Heaven or Hell?”
He looked up and said, “I don’t know,” then folded his arms across his chest gazing up at me with passive, sad eyes. I told him of Heaven and Hell. He didn’t speak much; he just nodded his head, however I saw tears forming in his eyes. I asked, “If God judged you by the 10 commandments would you be guilty?” He nodded yes. “Would a just God would have to send him to Hell?” Yes again. This concerned him. My wife had now quietly walked up next to me while I gave him the good news of the Gospel. “Do you want to confess your sin, repent, and trust in the Lord?”
With tears welling up in his eyes, he said, “Yes! How do I do that?”
“Pray to God with what you feel in your heart, and don’t worry; I’m right with you.” He prayed a simple heart-felt plea to the Lord for forgiveness of his sins.
What a grace filled moment; the Holy Spirit touched both of us. I guided him through some more prayer, blessed him and his family and lifted them up to the Lord. He took my hand in both of his and thanked me, tears still in his eyes. I encouraged him to find a Bible teaching church, and to read and pray daily.
As my wife and I walked away, she looked at me and said, “Sweetheart, I gave that man a tract just a little while ago, and he didn’t want to talk to me.”
“God used you to prepare him, and for me to reap the harvest. Praise the Lord!”
My wife stopped to pass tracts out to a couple of ladies shopping. I kept walking, and came to the wide portion of the pier where they occasionally have open-air concerts. I looked to my left and noticed a young black family standing at the rail looking out over the ocean. I approached and the mother smiled at me. “Did you get your free millions?” I introduced myself, shook hands with them and asked their names and the name of their beautiful daughter, a toddler maybe 2 years old. Their daughter’s name was Heavenly… tell me this wasn’t a divine appointment! As I went into my message, both parents warmed to me. Then the little one toddled off pushing her stroller ahead of her, and the mother gave chase.
Dad was seated on a bench, looking at the ocean. I continued speaking to him, and saw that I was having a sobering impact on him. He was a young man, 25-30-years-old, wearing a diamond stud in his ear, heavy gold chain around his neck, hip hop clothes, well groomed—Mr. Cool.
When I got to the point of Judgment Day, guilt, and Hell, he said in a soft voice, “Yeah, I hear you,” slowly shaking his head and still looking out at the ocean.
“God made you the spiritual leader of your family, and God will hold you responsible for guiding your family in righteousness,” I said firmly.
He looked up at me again—straight in the eyes—and said, “I know you’re right.”
“You know what’s out there on the streets, the life glorified by the world, none of which is holy in the sight of God.” He nodded again. I gave him the good news of the Gospel, and asked if he wanted to get right with God right now.
“Yes.” He prayed an eloquent prayer, confessing all his sins, and asking for forgiveness. He asked God to guide him from then on as a righteous father. I was blown away and almost broke down crying, but I kept it together. I lifted him up to the Lord in prayer, thanking God for his life and his courage. After I finished praying he stood up, shook my hand and said, “Thank you for coming to me. God meant for us to talk today.” I thanked him for listening, and he walked off to catch up with his family, thanking me again as he left.
I stood there for moment, and realized my body was shaking. I sat down slowly and took a deep breath. Tears came. I prayed a silent prayer of thanks to the Lord. I sat for a few more minutes to bask in the glory of God and his amazing grace and goodness. Taking another slow deep breath, I stood, ready to continue.
I turned away from the rail and began walking toward the center of the open area. There was a middle-aged couple walking towards me. “Did you get your millions?” They both smiled and took them. The lady read it, became disgusted when she realized what it was, then quickly walked on. The gentleman slowed down, so I asked him the million-dollar question.
“Heaven, I hope,” he answered. He came to a stop and we were on! He realized that he was guilty before God and going to Hell. He was very concerned about this. I gave him the good news of the Gospel, but he stopped me after I said Jesus died on the cross for all the sins of mankind. “I hear what you are saying, but I have a hard time believing you when you say God will forgive my sins.” I told him God forgives all sins, but he stopped me again. “I really don’t believe God will forgive my sins.”
I asked him why he felt that way, but he hesitated and lowered his head in shame. When he started to speak, his voice broke several times as he explained, “I’m a Vietnam veteran and I’ve killed women and children in close quarter’s combat numerous times. I had no choice because they were firing weapons at me, trying to kill me. It was kill or be killed.” The memories of these things haunted him. He was sure that God wouldn’t forgive him. I paused for a moment, fighting to keep my composure, feeling the deep sense of shame this man felt. The Holy Spirit strengthened me, and put the right words in my mouth. Putting my hand on his shoulder, I said, “Look, do you really want to know why you feel this way?”
“Satan is binding you with shame and self-loathing in order to keep you away from the saving grace of Jesus,” I explained. “Satan’s purpose on earth is to prevent us from coming to the Lord through all manner of lies, deceit, and confusion.” I told him of my life of sin—30 years of things that I was not proud of—failed marriages, adultery, fornication, worshiping money and success… “But when I came to the Lord and confessed my sin, telling him of my shame, asking for forgiveness, and committing to place all my faith and trust in Jesus, all my sins were washed clean by the blood of Jesus.” There was silence for a few moments. He was still hanging his head. “Would you like to repent right now?”
“I don’t know if I can.” I offered to pray for him. “Not right now.” I asked again if I could pray for him and in a barely audible voice he said, “Yes”.
I placed my hand on his shoulder. “God, stretch out your mighty hand and touch this man’s heart with your peace. Strengthen him, and give him the assurance that if he humbles himself before You, his sins will be forgiven.” Then I said, “God is faithful. In the Scriptures his promise of grace is always delivered to those who come before him with a penitent heart.” I thanked him for his service to our country, and asked the Lord to bless this man’s life.
I felt the weight lift from this man, his shoulders dropping, his breathing becoming deep and measured. Relieved, he grabbed my hand with a vice grip. “We were supposed to talk today. Thank-you.” I smiled and told him I agreed with his assessment, then blessed him again.
We parted company, and again felt like I needed to sit down. I took a deep breath and realized my ears were buzzing. I felt like every atom of my being was vibrating overtime. Again I prayed a prayer of thanksgiving to the Lord, thanking him for his mercy and grace. I asked the Lord to restore calm to me, and to strengthen me.
I stood up from my bench, returning to the same area I had been for the last hour and a half. I passed out some more bills, just trying to mellow out and take it slow and easy. I walked about ten yards and looked to my right and noticed a pair of young love birds leaning against the rail, gazing at each other and the ocean beyond. I almost passed them by, thinking I didn’t want to disturb their moment together, but the Lord prompted me to do otherwise. I walked up to them smiling and asked, “Did you get your free millions?”
They smiled back and said, “No,” then took them from me. I popped the million-dollar question. The guy answered, “Heaven, probably”. The girl didn’t answer, and when I asked again, the guy told me she didn’t speak English.
“No problem,” I said cheerfully giving him my undivided attention. As I led him through the 10 commandments, he admitted guilt, admitted a just God would have to send him to Hell, and admitted that it concerned him “very much.” I gave him the good news of the Gospel and said, “Even though you’re young, God tells us in the Bible that no man knows when his last day comes, and that he should not delay in getting right with God.” When I said this, a look of uneasy concern intensified on his face. I didn’t say anything for a moment.
“I’m joining the Army in 2 weeks and going to Iraq.”
I looked him in the eye, and placed my hand on his shoulder. “Like I said, no man knows when his last day on earth will be. You’re going to a war zone. Do you really want to gamble on your salvation?”
He thought about this for a few moments then answered, “No.”
“Would you like to pray to the Lord right now, and get yourself right with him?”
I told him to pray. He did, and the presence of the Holy Spirit was unmistakable. His voice was shaky, but he did it. I again placed my hand on his shoulder and lifted him up to God. I thanked him for his willingness to serve his country, and asked that the Lord protect him, and give him the courage and boldness to share his newfound faith with his comrades-in-arms. When I finished praying, I opened my eyes and saw him wipe tears from his eyes. He shook my hand and thanked me. “Make sure you give this message to your girlfriend,” I urged. He smiled and said he would.
It was time to go and meet the rest of the team. I took a quick look at my small remaining stack of million-dollar bills and thought I’ll just blow these out on my way back to meet the group. I saw another couple with a small child. Hurrying, I wanted to keep moving and dispense of my remaining bills. The man took one from me, looked at it, looked right at me, and asked, “What are these about?”
Apparently God had little concern for my schedule. I started talking with him about the 10 commandments and he agreed that he was guilty of breaking them. I began to explain what a just God must do with someone who is found guilty of breaking His law when a seagull flew overhead and let loose with a bomb that scored a direct hit on the shoulder of his wife, splashed onto him and onto the baby carriage! The wife leaped to her feet in disgust, and said to her husband “We need to get out of here, now!” I tried to follow them, but they made it clear that the conversation was over. I thought to myself Oh well, at least they got the bills. It wasn’t until about an hour later that I realized that the seagull bomb was literally spiritual warfare! The enemy had attacked with a vengeance, angry that lost souls were being saved! I can hear him now, “Noooooooooooo!!”
I gave out my last 2 bills to a nicely dressed Jewish couple. The man greeted me and asked, “What are these bills were for?”
“I’m part of a Christian missionary local outreach program from Hope Chapel in Hermosa Beach.”
“Really? That’s great. I am a Rabbi and I spend a lot of time speaking to Christian churches who support Israel!!”
I told him about our recent work moving families from the war zone in northern Israel to safety. He was touched. I told him to call the church and they would give him any additional information he needed. He shook my hand and blessed me for my ministry work.
The evangelism team was waiting for me and asked how my day went. I laughed and really didn’t know where to begin. My first response was, “God blessed me with a Supernatural day!”
Steve’s note: Shortly after Ed became a Christian a well-meaning brother told him that he didn’t need to evangelize. He just needed to “live the life and others would be drawn to him.” I’m sure glad he ignored this advice and has decided to “live the life,” and “open his mouth.”