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God’s Providence In McDonalds

Earlier this year, I was sat in a McDonald's in Victoria station. I noticed a young girl with Watchtower (Jehovah’s Witness) literature on the table. It said, 'Is the Bible Relevant Today?' I stared at the booklet for a few moments and then back up at her. I was in two minds whether or not to say something.

The opener is always the most difficult part of witnessing for me. There’s nothing natural about sharing the gospel, so it's quite common to run up against a brick wall. The horrible thing is the longer you wait, the more fear sets in, so you just have to bite the bullet.

‘Um… Excuse me?’ I began.

Her eyes met with mine. I tried my best to smile and look confident.

‘Sorry, but I couldn’t help but notice that booklet you’ve got there. Can I ask you what you think about the question it asks?’

LOOK FOR A WAY IN

I often like to look for excuses to open up conversations about faith issues. It makes it a lot less awkward if you can start with some common ground. Something like a relevant news story, a tract, or in this case a Jehovah's Witness booklet are great. 

She thought for a second.

‘It’s not mine, but I don’t really know.’

'Okay,' I continued. 'Can I ask you who you believe Jesus is?'

'I don't really know, but I don't care,' she replied.

'Really!?' I said smiling. 'You never wonder about God or what's going to happen when you die?'

She continued to shake her head, but then a male voice shouted out.

'When you're dead, you're dead!' he stated confidently. It was the guy sitting to my right.

He caught me a little off guard, so I tried my best to keep my composure. I turned in my seat towards him.

'How do you know that?' I asked.

'No-one has proved anything different,' he replied.

What he said next caught my interest.

'I used to be a Jehovah’s Witness.'

WATCHTOWER WITNESSING

The man looked young and was wearing sports gear. He was visibly unimpressed with me.

'You worship Jesus as God,' he began. 'But in the Bible it says he himself is created and worshipped God. The Bible also teaches that Jesus was an angel.'

'The Bible doesn't say that Jesus was created,' I objected. 'In John 8:58, Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.' That’s the name God uses for Himself in Exodus 3:14. The Jews understood this was what Jesus meant. That’s why, in verse 59 they took up stones to stone Him for blasphemy.'

'So why did Jesus need to pray to God if he's God?' he responded.

'This gets into the doctrine of the incarnation,' I replied. 'The Bible teaches that Jesus was both fully God and fully man. So in his human nature he prayed to the Father. But he also received worship which shows he knew he was God.'

We then moved onto scriptural authority. I told him that one of the best proofs of the Bible's divine authorship is prophecy and I got him to give his response on Psalm 22:16-18. You can read that here.

'Who do you think is being described in this passage?' I asked him.

He said he thought it was talking about Jesus, so I followed up with another question.

'Do you know this Psalm was written hundreds of years before Jesus was alive, or before Roman crucifixion was invented?'

He told me he wasn’t aware of it, but tried to brush it off. 

I try not to let things like that discourage me. Appearances can be deceiving and you never really know what’s going on in someone’s heart. I finished on a basic point.

'What really drew me to the Bible is the opportunity to know God. No other religion teaches that, only Jesus.'

He told me he had football training so he had to leave around this point.

Don’t be afraid to take risks when witnessing and pass beyond your fear. You might just find God already waiting for you on the other side.

A CURIOUS CATHOLIC

When I turned around, I saw a new pair of eyes staring blankly at me. A young man had taken the girls seat. Initially, I figured it was because he thought I was an idiot. So I just tried ignoring him and returned to my cheeseburger.

'Are you Catholic?' he asked.

It took me by surprise.

'Err…nope, I'm just a Bible believing Christian.'

He nodded in acknowledgement and returned to his sandwich. I couldn’t help but smile at the mayonnaise that had rubbed off on the left side of his face.

I threw his question back at him.

'Are you a Catholic?'

He nodded. It turns out he was visiting from Argentina.

I continued, 'May I ask, who do you believe Jesus is?'

He thought for a moment and the admitted, 'I don’t understand the question...'

'You believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God as a Catholic, right?'

'Yes.'

Earlier in the week I had been doing some research on the Roman Catholic Church in preparation for a discussion with someone else. I’d hardly got to use any of the material in that discussion, but the research had given me some valuable insights for this exchange.

 'Do you go to mass and confess to the priest etc...?' I asked.

'Yes.'

I asked him if I could show him a verse from Scripture to get his thoughts.

He nodded.

'In 1 Timothy 2:5 it says that Christ himself is the mediator between God and men. The Bible says nothing about confessing to a priest.'

'So we confess to Jesus?' he replied.

'That's right! Can I ask something else?' I said.

'Yes.'

'Do you believe we are justified by faith in Christ alone? Or do you believe you need to do other works?'

Here, I opened up to Romans 3:24-26 on my iPhone and read out Paul’s explanation of how we are justified.

From what I recall, he seemed to agree with the passage. After this, he turned the conversation to other matters.

'Do you believe the Pope is God's representative on earth?' he said.

I shook my head, 'No, nowhere in the Bible does it teach that.'

He was quick to respond. 'But Jesus said to Peter, “upon this rock I will build my church.”'

I read Ephesians 2:19-20 on my phone. It says:

'Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.'

I looked back up at him.

'Peter was an apostle, but you have other apostles mentioned here as well.'

He agreed so I changed the subject.

'Do you literally believe the bread and water becomes the body and blood of Jesus?'

He nodded.

'The Bible says Christ died once for sins (1 Peter 3:18). If you're saying it's literally His blood and body, then you are crucifying him over and over again.'

He objected, 'But Jesus said, do this in remembrance of me.'

I nodded, 'Yes, in remembrance. It isn't saying that it's literally his body and blood. Remember, he was physically there with them when he ate the supper. It would be impossible for the bread and wine to literally become his blood and body.'

He had to cut me off short at this point. We shook hands and wished each other well. I was glad we managed to end the conversation on good terms before he left.

LESSON LEARNED

Don’t underestimate the providence of God in situations like this. I thought I’d failed when I attempted to use the Watchtower leaflet with the young woman, but a former Jehovah’s Witness was sat right next to me.

I’d also been prepared in advance for my conversation with the young Catholic man without even knowing.

Don’t be afraid to take risks when witnessing and pass beyond your fear. You might just find God already waiting for you on the other side.

GIVE A DEFENCE

What Did Jesus mean when He said to Peter, “Upon this rock I will build my church.”'

On this rock (Petra) means a mighty rock. It's not a small pebble or stone which is the meaning of Peter's name (Petros). What is 'this rock' referring to then? It's not Peter but what Peter said (Mat 16:16). Jesus is the Son of God. On this rock will His church (Ekklesia) be built. 

Adam Brennan is a digital producer at Premier

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