Tonight was MUCH better! The park was packed with tents and the crowd on the streets was a large one like we use to have a few years ago. It started off pretty slow, but as I was talking to Becky, I noticed a young teenaged girl with a camera behind me. She looked like she wanted to take a picture of my T-shirt.
We normally wear our team shirt on Saturday’s, but since the biggest crowds are on Friday nights, we decided to wear them tonight instead. (See the May 22nd entry for a picture of our T-shirt) I walked over to the girl and asked if she wanted a picture of my shirt. She looked caught and said she didn’t, but I posed for her anyways. She said, “Well, OK. I will if you really want me to.” She took my picture and then asked what it meant. Becky and I were able to talk to 5-8 teens about the impossible gospel, grace and the Biblical gospel. At one point, the mother of one of the kids came over and listened too. Usually when parents come over, it is to break up the conversation. This lady eventually did lead the kids away, but not until we were able to explain a lot.
Throughout the evening, numerous people walked up to me and asked about my shirt. They are great conversation starters. One guy didn’t really want to talk, he just wanted to understand the message of the shirt. I explained it once and he said, “Well, it sounds like the same thing to me.” I explained it again and this time told him that the difference was between knowing that Jesus is sufficient rather than just one of many necessary things. Once I told him that since Jesus is sufficient to forgive my sins, the temple is unnecessary, he understood what I was getting at. He thanks me for explaining the shirt, took a tract and walked off.
I got into another impossible gospel conversation with a returned Mormon missionary named Justin. Things were going pretty well for awhile. During our conversation, three young ladies walked up and said, “We just want to know what you believe.” I told them that I was talking about that to Justin and that they were welcome to listen. They stood there for awhile until one of Justin’s friends came over and told him that his group was going to go sit down and that he should come with them. From that point on Justin seemed defensive and would not answer simple questions. The girls got a little nervous and walked off. It wasn’t until Justin ended the conversation that I turned around and noticed his buddy standing about 15 feet behind me.
I realized that Justin was getting defensive because he felt as if he had to look like he was in control of the conversation in front of his friend. One on one conversations can be so sincere until someone the Mormon knows comes over and listens. Then all of a sudden the atmosphere changes because their pride gets in the way and they don’t want to be viewed as weak. Justin got kind of frustrated and left. He still took a tract though so that was good.
It wasn’t too long before I got into another good conversation with some teens. I was talking to some Christian friends of mine and they pretty much just walked up and started talking to me. This conversation was with more than 10 teens and lasted for the rest of the night. It started with one a couple of main guys and then shifted once this other kid showed up. He was 16 and had a pretty sharp mind except for the time he told me how humble he was… oh, and he was serious. He was following my argument and asked some good questions. We went through the impossible gospel and got stuck on the point about repentance. That is what usually happens when you are talking to a group. Someone will come in late and start to raise objects that have already been raised and answered. When that happens, it seems like we’re just talking in circles.
Most of the kids stayed around for a good part of the conversation, but after most of the kids had left, this one kid stayed and talked. I think he felt “beat” and wanted to try to save face. He got frustrated again and left. Bill McKeever and I were standing there, turned around and saw this little, cocky 12 year old kid standing there. We started talking to him and then the previous kid saw that and came back to tell us how sad it was that we were picking on little kids. We explained that they walked up to us, not the other way around. He got on his little soap box and started talking about how I was way too prepared for him (like that is somehow a bad thing) and that he wasn’t prepared, but was being lead by the Lord to talk to me as eloquently as he was. I told him he was doing a great job and that I would love to talk with him one on one. The other kids were standing there looking at him and he said that he wouldn’t because all my scriptures were marked up and that I was too prepared, but all he had was God. I asked him why he needed any more than god and pointed out to him that I did not have my scriptures marked up. He then pointed at another piece of literature that I had shared with them and said that one was marked up. I handed it to him and asked him where I had marked it up. He handed it back and said, “Well, maybe you don’t, but I’m still not prepared.”
His group came back to retrieve him and I talked him into taking one of my tracts so that he could e-mail me if he had any questions. He looked hesitant, but I kept pleading with him. He said, “OK, I’ll read this tract and call you in a week.” He had a big smile on his face like he was looking forward to the challenge. I pray that he does call and that God gets a hold of him.