KAILUA-KONA, Hawaii — Are there times and places in which Christians shouldn’t share the Gospel? Perhaps, but one conversation I had at a café last year reminded me to never place restrictions on outreach that might limit what God wants to do.
The café was our very own here at Port YWAM Kona that was opened to the entire community during the week of the renowned Ironman Triathlon. During that time — while I was there marvelling at the bustle swirling around this typically tranquil town — a tourist from the Netherlands stopped by for a coffee. He quickly made himself at home and made acquaintance with several of our volunteers.
As the man sat there only a few barstools away from me I thought, It sure would be a shame if this man left this place without hearing the Gospel. Still, I felt reluctant to initiate the conversation. Despite the fact that hundreds of churches in the U.S. (and many YWAM bases) use coffee shops as a community-outreach platform, I wasn’t sure whether talking about Jesus with this stranger would be rude — especially in a place where people would normally go to relax. However, after giving it some thought, I decided it was best to share the Gospel and let the Dutch tourist decide whether he was interested in having that discussion instead of me making that decision for him.
After talking with him for just a few minutes, he asked about the background of the café because it was attached to our YWAM campus — which was formerly a hotel. I told him that it was part of a Christian missionary agency.
“That’s interesting; my parents are very active in their church and they support missions,” said the tourist, whose name was Gerard.
“Awesome,” I said, seizing the modest opportunity, “So what do you think of Jesus?”
Taken aback by my question, he replied “We don’t usually discuss such matters where I’m from.”
“Okay; that’s understandable,” I said. At that point I decided to change the subject, but Gerard chose to address the topic.
“I think Jesus was a good man, but I just have a hard time believing he was more special than that. I strongly believe he was merely human,” he said.
“Are you willing to keep an open mind about him?” I asked.
“Oh, yes,” he said. “But are you also willing to consider that he wasn’t God?”
“I’ve already considered that,” I said.
I went on to explain the doubts that I had about my faith early in my adulthood and how, as I sought out the answers, God intervened and gave me assurance about who He is and the fact that Jesus is the one true and perfect representation of who He is.
As our conversation drew to a close, I thanked Gerard for being willing to discuss such a weighty topic with me even though we had just met. He said, “It’s been nice talking to you; I can tell you were just looking out for my well-being.” Then he offered to buy a cup of coffee for me.
It is often a good idea to follow society’s conventions regarding when, where and with whom to discuss certain issues. But my interaction with Gerard helped me remember to be open for unconventional opportunities to share God’s love and truth with those who might never or rarely hear it.
By Raymond Billy
Port YWAM Kona Communications Staff