It was arranged that a team would be mobilized on two evenings to go down to the city and attempt to engage people in the gospel. Two of the girls are Americans with “Campus for Christ” so they have some training and skills for this sort of thing. For the others (Slovenia is described as a nation of introverts) this provides good exposure and challenge for the team.
To be honest, I am a bit of a loner on this sort of business and never like to be held up as the standard for evangelism performance. I am not a scheduled evangelist nor do I just attempt to evangelize anyone and everyone. It is my view that the best approach is to always be ready to share the gospel, especially when there is some affinity for the person. For instance, when Jesus saw the rich, young ruler coming toward Him the Bible says that Jesus “looked upon him and loved him.” As best as I can explain it, this is my methodology. I try to see if something clicks. This is why I pray all of the time for the right person and the right message and the right occasion. I have often wound up with the right person, but the timing or circumstances seemed all wrong. Good communication is said to be this: “The right message, to the right person, in the right way, at the right time.” Worse than almost anything else is what most Christians almost always do – talk about something the audience has absolutely no interest in. Have you ever listened to a drunk ramble on? Well, then, you get the idea.
The team pulled themselves together and off we went. As the “SENIOR EVANGELISTIC GENIUS,” I immediately set up my easel, picked out a target and began to draw. Now, if I did this in Italy, many people would gather around me to see what and how I am doing with occasional encouragements like, “Complimenti” or “Bravisimo!” But, regrettably I don’t get much of this sort of thing in Slovenia where it is considered impolite to meddle in someone else’s business. So, I went right on drawing a fellow at almost forty paces away.
When I was finished, the rather fearless Mateja gladly wanted to help me deliver the gift and interpret for me as I shared the gospel. Off we went, only to discover that the fellow was a mad man. Really, he was a mad (as in angry) man and rather than happily accepting the drawing as almost everyone does, he stared and scowled at us until we gave up after he told us that it didn’t look like him. We took the drawing back over to the waste bin and tossed it in. Seeing that my first attempt at demonstrating how easy it is to share the gospel utterly failed in front of ten fledgling evangelists, I pointed my easel in the opposite direction and drew two other old men in succession who gleefully accepted the tracts and personal witness.
I am a fisherman so I just hate to have a fish refuse my bait or presentation. I decided to circle around again to see what he might do if I came in proximity again. As I floated around his way, he looked up at me and said in a low voice, “Anyway, I have nowhere to put it. It is a nice drawing but I have no wall.” I sat down beside him. “You seem a little angry,” I offered. To this he took his thumb and index finger and spaced them apart, then slowly pulled one hand high above the other. What he communicated was this – not just a little but a lot. This is a common Balkan emotion.
Though nicely dressed and clean for someone living on the street, it was obvious that he had no money, yet, unlike so many others he did not ask me for any of mine. I reached into my pocket and pulled out fifty euro and handed it toward him. He looked at it, then looked at me. Tearfully he asked, “Why would you do this? It is a lot of money.” I said, “I know. I know it is a lot of money to give a stranger but this is what Jesus has done. He lifted me up when I had no hope.” He didn’t understand all of this mumbo-jumbo so I reached in my back pocket, took out the New Testament in Slovene and handed it to him. Seeing from a distance what was going on, Mateja was back at his feet explaining where to read.
Who knows what will become of him? Suicide? Insanity? This man, like so many others in this part of the world, have come to a dead stop. Nevertheless, I love the response I get to a simple (howbeit expensive) act of lavish generosity. Was the money wasted? Perhaps, but I had a “durn” good time spending your money in this way. I told this fellow that I thought he was a worthwhile investment. He smiled. Maybe this was his first smile in many days, months or years?