If someone were to ask me what happened when me and 2 friends were in Florida this past week, I'd respond: God did work, all for His glory!
It was sometime last fall when the idea for the trip came about. I was with one of my best friends, Austin, just hanging out when I brought up the idea of going on a trip sometime with some of the other guys we knew. So from then on we brainstormed and prayed about the trip; of where we would go and what we would do. I would say that a couple months past when we finally had it all roughly planned out. Leaving Saturday morning we would arrive in Birmingham, AL, after church on Sunday (which was at the Church at Brook Hill...David Platt) we would continue on down to Pensecola, Fl to our first camping spot, then Thurs morning we would head over to Niceville, Fl to another camping spot for the remainder of our time there. Our primary focus was to do as much as witnessing as possible!
Me, Austin, and Andrew (a friend of ours) were all set to go with just a week away. We bathed the trip in prayer before, and told other saints so that they could be praying as well. Yet, we were not aware of what the Lord had in the works for us!
He Worked Through Us
The places He lead us to for witnessing were: a mall in Birmingham, a beach in Pensecola, a mall in Pensecola, Pensecola State College, an outlet mall in Alabama.....I believe, and Panama City Beach. I know before the trip, one thing we prayed for was for the Lord to open door, and he definitely did! It may be safe for me to say that we've had around 100 gospel convos (that may be an exaggeration). The crazy thing is that The Lord led us into a lot really good convos where we saw Him working on the hearts of those we shared with! With those who professed Christ we still gave them law then Gospel, reminding them that it's not our works that save us (since we're not good enough), but its by repenting and trusting in Jesus who is good enough. We would then encourage them to read the book of 1 John whenever they had a chance to examine themselves to see if they're really in the faith. Then for those who didn't profess Christ, but were still open to talk and hear what we had to share (namely the Gospel), we would give them the law and then the Gospel.
Here's the crazy thing though! Of the three of us, only me and Austin had the most experience of doing contact evangelism (Andrew was still getting a hang of it), but we saw more fruit during our witnessing on the trip then when we first started doing contact evangelism a couple years ago. There were a lot people, as it seemed to us, who after talking with them seemed genuinely concerned about their eternal state, and were legitimate about getting into reading 1 John or John. Never in our years of doing contact evagelism have we seen so much fruit! It truly amazed us! Of course only time will tell what seeds we sown in the hearts of those who've heard the gospel will bear fruit! All we knew to do is to preach and pray, and let God do the rest!
Tyler was a guys we got to talk to (both me and Andrew). He professed Christ, and was really attentive to hearing what we had to share. I honestly can't remember all that we shared, and all that he shared, but I can say this that it was one of the best gospel convos I've had with someone! The day after we got back, me and Austin got a text from Andrew letting us know to be praying for Tyler who apparently called Andrew to talk and let him know that he read 1 John. Praise be to God! Be praying for him!
Overall I thank God not only letting me a part of that weekend of labor for advancing the Gospel and His Kingdom, but for using me a redeemed sinner, a weak, frail, finite being to make Him known in a lost and dying world, to be His ambassador (2 Cor 5:20). It's such a privilege, honor, and so humbling that He calls me to be His servant, His ambassador, a herald of the Gospel!
He Worked In Us
Months before the trip, I just felt like I was lukewarm. Meaning that I was lacking in zeal, passion, and joy for Christ and the Gospel. I did pray again and again for Him to reignite that passion within me, but nothing happened for the longest time. Was He delaying? No, He never delays; He answers in His timing. I've once heard it said that the 3 hardest words in American culture are: "Wait for Him". I couldn't agree any more! I wasn't expecting the Lord to wreck me on the trip, but I'm sure thankful He did!
So how did He do it? Well I wanna say He used a number of things, including the result of the gospel convos we had, but I would say it was mainly from a sermon we listened to while on the road. It was a sermon by a godly man who is a missionary in Uganda, in which he preached from Hebrews 12:1-2. Yes, these passages are ones that we've read before and are familiar with, but I love it when I hear a sermon on a familiar passage that the speaker will give new light to. Whether they say something about the passage that I never thought about or saw before, or helps me to understand the passage clearly that I never fully understood. Shannon Hurley, the guy who gave the sermon we listened to made this strong exhortation: "Don't be content in running the race at a slow and steady pace, you must run HARD!" At least it went something along those lines. I can't just look at others to see that their not running as hard as me. No! I must focus on running HARDER, "laying aside every weight, and sin that so easily entangles..." and "looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith". I don't want to be content in running at slow and steady pace! I want to run HARD for HIim! Taking this life seriously, knowing that we're in the middle of a war! "For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places." (Eph 6:12).What that means to me is to cast aside all the things that were hindering me from running HARD, and setting my mind on the things above (Col 3:2), seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness (Matt 6:33), knowing as a soldier, that I shouldn't be caught up in civilian pursuits, since it's my aim to please Him (2 Tim 2:4)! I want to have my mind set on Christ, on pleasing Him! To, everyday give all I have and am for the advancement of the Gospel, the advancement of the kingdom, the building of the church, all to His glory! So you can pretty much say that it was a slap in the face, with the Lord knocking sense into me, bringing me back to where I should be! I'm so thankful that He used this trip to reignite the passion in my heart for Him, the Gospel, and His kingdom! To Him be the glory!
So yes, the trip was AWESOME! It was such a great testimony of His grace, mercy, goodness, faithfulness, and power! Yes! God did work!