What To Do When Hostage Evangelism Fails

At 25,000 feet over eastern Colorado, I sat next to a fidgety guy who had a hard time making eye contact and smelled strongly of alcohol. After a little discussion, it wasn't hard to figure out the guy obviously needed Jesus. And since I have a bit of experience throughout the years with hostage evangelism—sharing Christ in places where people cannot easily escape, such as airplanes—I began to see if I could find a breech where I might slip in some truth.

It never happened. I never said a word about Jesus. Why did I clam up? Why did I not take the opportunity like I would have done as a younger person to offer him Living Water? I guess eventually, after so many objections and refusals, I've stopped trying so much. I could tell by this man's hardness and self-importance that he didn't want to hear from another Jesus freak.

I have a good friend from Colombia who now lives in the States. When Lily lived in Colombia, she always shared her faith with everyone she encountered, often meeting many in a single day who were excited and ready to believe in Jesus. The last time she visited there, she led 13 people to Christ, including a taxi driver and a doctor during a check up. I asked what her experience has been like in America and she told me that she feels a huge wall blocking her way. She has not found people in America to be receptive to Christ whatsoever. Exactly! What is the problem?

All the way back in Genesis, I noticed this same thing happened in another society. God looked for someoneanyonewho would be interested in receiving His love. He offered, but His offer was turned down by practically everyone. Later in Ezekiel 16:49, He gives us some insight:

"Behold, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: pride, overabundance of food, prosperous ease, and idleness were hers and her daughters'; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy (Amplified)."

The people of Sodom did not want God because their hearts were full of pride, their stomachs were full of food, and their lives were full of possessions and prosperity. They had no needs. Their god was the abundance of their society. The ache of life was filled with the created, instead of the Creator. Hmm.

So what is the answer for us? What do we do in our own society where people are too full to need God? While we don't want to stop telling others about Christ (I still should have shared with the man on the plane), we don't want to waste our time trying to convince people who don't want Jesus that they really do. That must be the job of the Holy Spirit.

What I do suggest is this: we take the Gospel—the Good News that Jesus saves—to those who do have need and do want to hear. Consider this parable:

 But He said to him, "A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, `Come; for everything is ready now.'
"But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, `I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.'
"Another one said, `I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.'
"Another one said, `I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.'
"And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, `Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.'
"And the slave said, `Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.' 
"And the master said to the slave, `Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.'" Luke 14:16-24

God is pouring out His Spirit in many countries worldwide in great revival, and we can invest in that revival especially by helping to care for the orphan and the widow and all those who recognize their need. In that way, we can still share the Gospel with those who will receive it with joy, while living in a country full of many people who have little or no interest in God.

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