Thursday, October 7, 2010

THE CAMPUS EVANGELISM CHRONICLES, Part 1

This week has been gear-switching! I put together a vertical banner on The Trilemma of Christ, based on C.S. Lewis' words in his little book, Mere Christianity (The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41):


I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.


Well-known author and speaker Josh McDowell diagrammed Lewis' argument like this:



Of course my banner is in Portuguese, and I added C.S. Lewis' quote at the bottom under the heading "Conclusions of a Scholar." I can assure you these kinds of visual aids really generate a lot of curiosity among students!

For example, the first day I used it - this past Tuesday, Oct. 5, over 70 people stopped to read my banner.  I was able to walk 40 of them through the argument, bringing in the gospel at the end by saying, "The most logical way to deal with Jesus' claims is to conclude that He was telling the truth about Himself. The other options present serious problems in common sense terms. If Jesus was telling the truth, He is God. If Jesus is God, by definition He is also  Lord over His creation. However, Jesus didn't make the claims He made so that we would agree intellectually with those claims. He made them so that we would make Him Lord of our lives! How do we do that? Well, we first have to recognize that He is not Lord of our lives because of our rebellion against His lordship. We demonstrate our rebellion by breaking His laws: for example, 'Thou shalt not steal,' 'Thou shalt not commit adultery,' 'Thou shalt not bear false witness,' 'Thou shalt not have any other gods besides Me,' etc. When we break a human law, we're subject to the consequences. In the same way, when we break a divine law, we are subject to divine consequences. The Bible says that 'sin is the transgression of the Law' (1 Jn. 3:4) and that the consequences of breaking God's Law - or sinning - is the eternal death penalty (Rom. 6:23). In order to 'make Jesus Christ Lord of your life,' you have to first deal with your sin problem by repenting of your sin (i.e., 'changing your mind' to the point of hating your sin) and depositing your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior, as the only one who can solve your dilemma (i.e., Because God is holy and just, He cannot let sinners into heaven and He must execute the sentence He already announced in Romans 6:23). Think seriously about this because, if you die in your rebellion against Jesus as God and Lord, you will not go to heaven when you die. You will end up in hell." At the end I gave each listener an evangelistic tract with The 8-32 Movement's e-mail on the back.

I can't express enough my satisfaction over knowing that I am declaring truth about Jesus Christ in the university context (and in a way they can relate to) as well as clearly presenting the biblical gospel (i.e., bad news + Good News + repentance + faith). God is also bringing Christians to the surface on campus who've been looking for a serious Christian group to plug into.

Speaking of Christians coming out of the woodwork on campus, we had our third week of Biblical Evangelism classes this past Monday. The group was down to six UFF students this week (several had time conflicts and/or tests), one student from a local private university (UNIPLI) and a Math professor from another private university (UNIVERSO). We also had two women participating from the church that is hosting The 8-32 Institute, Red Beach Baptist Church, as well as our two daughters.

During class Aïda and I asked students to put their evangelism training into practice by going out witnessing with us. Aïda set up appointments with two girls, while I set up appointments with three of the guys. Due to extenuating circumstances, I was only able to make one of those appointments, but WHAT AN APPOINTMENT!

I met with Stephan, an Engineering major, to go out sharing. Stephan had already concluded, based on his own studies, that he needs to be biblical in his evangelism. When he saw our poster on campus advertising The 8-32 Institute's Biblical Evangelism classes, he jumped at the chance to be a part! We met a History major by the name of Renato, who was studying alone before heading for lunch. Renato was an interesting person because his mother has been attending evangelical churches the past several years. Despite his mother's influence, Renato has chosen a different "god" - the god of Pantheism. When I read the following passage to him, however, he changed his tune:

The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.


For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion.

Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them (Rom. 1:18-32).

After sharing the biblical gospel with him during our interview, Renato congratulated us for "hanging in there and patiently dealing with my views." He also said that my reading of the Romans passage to him made him rethink his concept of God. Our prayer is that Renato's concept of God will become that of the God of the Bible. We're also praying that God's Law will continue to have its intended effect, convicting Renato of sin, righteousness and judgment and driving him to the cross of Christ.




After witnessing to Renato, Stephan and I walked over to the main cafeteria on campus. We set up my Lord, Liar or Lunatic banner display outside a main exit. The curiosity level was not as high as the day before, perhaps due to the fact that many students had the opportunity to read the banner while waiting in the lunch line. Tomorrow I will cover some of the key points so that students will want to stop after lunch to "figure out" the crazy American missionary's banner!


To be continued...


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