When we first moved to Germany, we lived in a small village. We began to pray for opportunities, and did so for five years, with no visible results. Then one Halloween night, they had a Halloween block party in front of our house (nothing more than an excuse to drink), so I went out to make conversation.
I asked our Catholic neighbors if they got to see the Pope when he was in the area the week before. When our other neighbor, a 25 yr old that was already really drunk, began to ridicule Catholicism, they got into an argument. Then the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you’re a Bible teacher, right? Tell us what you think… is there a God?”
I had practiced giving my testimony in German in less than five minutes, so here was my opportunity. All those standing around heard the response… about 6 – 7 of them. When I finished, he said, “Ahh… that’s all a bunch of [sewage].” Then, he and the other neighbors started to argue again.
Their conversation came to the forgiveness of sins, and the young man turned to me and said, “Jon, you started this argument… what do you think about the forgiveness of sins?”
I said, “First, I didn’t start the argument. I was just making conversation. Second, if you really want to know, I can tell you what the Bible says about the subject.”
He scoffed and said, “The Bible is nothing more than a fairy tale book.”
So I said, “Then you probably aren’t interested in hearing what I have to say. If we can have a respectful conversation, I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.”
He said, “Okay… I’m sorry. Tell me.”
At this point, all the neighbors were there… about 20 – 25 of them. And it was like an E.F. Hutton commercial where everybody stops what they’re doing and listens. They were still drinking and standing around their tables, but I could tell that they were intently listening. So, speaking a little louder than usual, I clearly presented the plan of redemption, starting with Adam and finishing with the resurrection, in about 7 minutes.
When I finished, the young man’s mom said, “Now Jon, I think you can be a good Christian and not go to church.”
I replied, “You totally misunderstood what I said about being a Christian. You’re either a part of the family of God or not.” Then I took another few minutes to share with her the Gospel message from a different viewpoint. It was exciting to see the fruit of our relational investment pay off in a rich opportunity to give the Gospel to all of our neighbors at the same time. God answers prayer!