I first met Joe while staffing an outreach table on campus about a month ago. I was using Soularium picture cards as witnessing tools to spark conversations about spiritual matters. Joe was more than willing to participate in telling about his life and beliefs. Patrick—my campus missionary intern colleague—and I talked with him, and one of us led him through a survey. Joe heard the gospel that day, but I don’t know how much of an impact it had at the time.
About a week ago, I ran into Joe again while I was playing pool in the University Center. I said “hello” to him, and he seemed surprised I remembered his name. We played a game or two and talked a little bit about life and other things. Then we each went on our way.
A few days ago, I saw Joe again. I was working at a multiple-choice table as a part of Engage 24—a day when we challenge every student to share his or her faith. At this table, we presented two questions, and each had three answers from which students could choose. We gave each student who participated two pennies, and they dropped a penny into the jar that corresponded with their beliefs.
The first question was “Who is Jesus?” Joe was quick to choose the “Savior” option. Then he came to the next question: “How many ways are there to heaven?” He stood and stared at the question for a few seconds. I could tell he was a little perplexed. Instead of forcing him to simply choose from among the three options, I asked if he could simply talk through his thoughts with me.
The only way
Joe told me about his Catholic background. He explained he had been taught to do good things, but if you messed up, you still had a chance to go to heaven after purgatory. I shared John 14:6 with him, where Jesus states: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” I presented the gospel to him. When I finished, we stood there in silence. Then he looked at me and said, “You know, I haven’t ever thought about it like that before.”
At that point, Joe asked, “Do you know what I hate about you?” This really caught me off guard, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear the answer, but I obliged anyways. He said, “Every time I talk to you, you make me think.” I was honored and a little awed. Then he said, “Also, every time I talk to you, it makes me want to cry.” I was absolutely speechless.
As he stood there with tears rolling down his face, I asked him if he ever fully put his faith in Christ. He said, “I think so,” in an unconvincing way. I then talked to him about assurance of salvation and what it meant to live a life for Christ. I told him my testimony, explaining how I came to know Jesus.
Joe listened attentively, but didn’t make any decisions that day. Before he left, we exchanged numbers so we could get together and talk again sometime. But before he walked away, he took the penny that was in his hand and dropped it into the “one way to heaven” jar.
The Holy Spirit at work
He walked away, and I was kind of stunned by what just happened. I know it wasn’t my words that made Joe emotional, but I’m sure it was the Holy Spirit at work. That was the first time the gospel message ever registered with Joe. I’m not sure if it was conviction or just the revelation of who Jesus was that made Joe emotional, but I do know that it was the work of the Spirit.
I’m looking forward to seeing him again. I want to continue showing him in word and deed what the gospel really is. God is moving in Joe’s life, and I know that God has given me the honor of being a part of that story.
Kyle Crim is serving as a Go Now Missions campus missionary intern at Angelo State University.