As many people know, I just got back from Japan. When I was waiting in line to get my boarding pass to come back to Korea, there were two girls behind me. They introduced themselves and told me they were American. They asked me where I was from, and I told them. After that, they wanted to know why I was in Japan, and why I was going to Korea, and I told them. Since they asked me, I asked them what they were doing in Korea since that was where they were going. They said they were going to a Christian Camp on Jeju Island. I told them that I was a Christian too and that Christianity was very popular in Korea. I talked to them about the largest church in Korea, etc. They decided to challenge me and give me a test.
This is what you don’t do to people you will never meet again. They wondered if I was lying when I said I was a Christian. They said, “If you are a Christian, tell us what you believe.” Well, I believe a lot of things, but just saying I am a Christian means that I believe in Jesus, and at one time in history, that was enough. When Christians met each other in the early times of he church, they would draw a fish in the sand, and if the other was a Christian, they also drew a fish in the sand, and then they knew they could trust one another. That is what I should have done because these girls were adamant about getting me to tell them what I believed. They just kept asking me questions, and I felt like I had to teach a class. They pushed me.
I began with the problem of sin separating man from God. I explained that God made a plan from the beginning of time to bring man back to him. I told them about the prophecies in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus. I told them that Jesus led a sinless life I pointed out to them that Hebrews says that for a new agreement to take place between God and man, there had to be shedding of blood and a sacrifice. I explained that the sacrifices they did in the Old Testament weren’t enough, and that Jesus made a sacrifice once and for all, and that God put him on the throne beside him. I explained that when Jesus died, he rose from the grave three days later. I explained to them that Jesus didn’t want to die, but he was doing everything that God wanted him to do, and that if we are Christians, we have the same attitude of doing everything God asks. We are supposed to, as Christians, to follow the example of Jesus and do everything God asks us to do. The Bible says that is why God made Jesus rise from the dead on the third day and forty days later took him into Heaven to sit on the throne with him–because he did everything God asked him to, even dying on the cross. I knew all the answers to their test, but they shouldn’t have given me a test.
They would have just kept prodding me with questions, but the lady from the airline interrupted them. I really hadn’t wanted to make a spill like that. I usually study the Bible with people. I let them read it for themselves, but I was answering all their pushy questions. They were challenging me about me telling them I was a Christian. What purpose does that hold? They were putting themselves above me. That is not what God asks us to do. He asks us to teach others, but not to make ourselves obnoxious which is what they did. When the lady from the airline interrupted, they said they were Baptists, and that some Baptists believe in baptism, and others don’t, and I knew that, and I told them I was just a Christian, and that I had been baptized. They said it was good for me to “witness,” and that we all needed to be in practice of witnessing. What? They were full of bologna. I told them that I was 64 years old, and I had spent my life studying religions of man. I knew that some Baptists believed in baptism and some didn’t. I have also read the Koran, and the day before, I had listened to a Buddhist preacher. I have read some of the rig-vedas, and I study the Bible everyday. I told them they didn’t need to try to challenge me, but I said it in a very nice way.
They were on some sort of evangelistic fervor that was pushy and silly. As Christians, I hope we don’t go around treating random strangers we will never see again like they treated me. You can’t convert someone with one conversation. In fact, I don’t let conversation convert people. I am kind. I am nice. I act like a Christian. I treat people well. I am called to do it, and I want to do it. If people want to read the Bible with me, I read with them, but I never push people. I never tell them my opinions. Those girls were giving me a test. I don’t give people tests either. Putting people on the spot like they did to me is wrong. They are lucky that I actually was a Christian and had patience with their silliness. People ask me to teach them Bible, so I sit down and read the Bible with them and let God teach them. It takes more than one conversation. It takes time, but if they read the Bible for themselves, it is God teaching them, not me, and they have trust in God. I read the whole gospel of Matthew with people who want to study for the first time, and if they don’t understand, I take them to other scriptures and let them read it to understand better. I don’t just tell them. It means nothing if they don’t come to the conclusions on their own. You can’t force anyone to be a Christian, and just telling them what you think is right doesn’t convert them. For all they know, that could just be your opinion.
When I read the gospel of Matthew with people, God speaks to them through the words of the scriptures, and they believe what they are reading. If they have questions, I take them to scriptures to answer their questions. I have yet to read the book of Matthew from beginning to end with someone who has not decided they want to be a Christian either before or when we get to the end of the book. Matthew converts them. I don’t have to. I just have to have the patience to sit down and read with them, and patience is part of Christianity.
Never put people on the spot. Never argue with them. Never think a conversation is going to convert someone. If you are traveling, 99.99% of the time, you will never see those people again. I met another nice young man who sat next to me in the waiting area from England. He had questions too, but he was worried about how to get where he was going and where he was going to stay after he got there. I gave him whatever information I could. We sat there and talked pleasantly. I gave him my card and told him that if he needed help while in Korea, he could call me. I told him that other foreign young people had called me when they got in trouble, and I have a car, and I can come and help. I gave him hints about how to stay out of trouble in Korea. I don’t know if he was a Christian or not, but I tried to act like a Christian toward him. That is all you can and should do as a Christian. I may or may not ever see him again, but I treated him right. I helped him how I could, and my card I gave him with my phone number says I am from a Christian university. When we got to the other side, I had to chase the vultures away from him, the taxi cab drivers who see foreigners and want to charge the living daylights out of them. I made sure he had the right transportation to go where he needed to go. He trusted me, and he had a good experience with Christianity. That is how you are supposed to treat people in airports if you are a Christian. I may never see him again, but he knows a Christian helped him. Just saying I was a Christian should have been enough for those girls. Pushing me and firing questions like I was their student was silly. If I asked them to be my professor, fine, but I didn’t, and I will never meet them again.