The Starfish Ministry – Prayer in the Park
I am a member of the Starfish Ministry at our church. If you are unfamiliar with the starfish story, you may read about it here. The basic concept of this ministry is that if we can help just one person come to Christ, then everything we do is worth it. As such, we will occasionally go out to a local park to both feed and witness to whomever we find there. Typically, we encounter many homeless individuals, but given the close proximity to Indiana University, we often meet wayward college students as well.
Last December was my first experience with the Starfish Ministry. That was a very special event for me as I had never “hit the streets” to witness before. We were in the park for over three hours in sub-freezing temperatures. We gave away hot soup all day from a variety of crockpots and pray for needs of many people. It is an amazing feeling of peace and humility that you receive when lifting up others in prayer to the Lord. I believe that it prepared me for what happened next.
I encounter many unbelievers and outright atheists in the course of my day. Sadly, it is sometimes difficult to find the opening and engage these individuals in a good theological discussion. As such, I am not as well practiced as I would like to be. I am eternally thankful to the Holy Spirit for guiding me as I encountered Max.
Max was an atheist. While he inquired about what I, and Christians in general, believe, I could tell that he had some prior knowledge. After I had described something to him, he began trying to find the weak points in my argument and exploiting them. It was at this time that I was thankful for David Ball’s “Defending the Faith” series (if you haven’t listened to it, do so…now). Every question from “How do you know there is a God”, to “What makes the Bible different from any other book”, and “Well, that’s a good truth for you, but doesn’t every religion claim to be the true and only path to heaven?” To date, I had never been challenged so hard on my beliefs by a person who had obviously constructed their own reasonable defenses.
I knew that Max was solid in his atheistic belief and nothing I said was going to change that. After struggling for a little bit after our conversation, trying to think of something I could have said that may have swayed his opinion, I remembered Matthew 10:19, where the Lord says, “When they deliver you over, do not be anxious how you are to speak or what you are to say, for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour.” I began to understand that everything that I said was what I should have said. Only the Lord offers salvation, and the only way Max is going to find it is if the Holy Spirit leads him to it. I now pray for Max that the Lord will lead him to Righteousness.
This past Sunday, August 26th, we again visited the park. This time, it was pizza and prayer, with much more acceptable weather conditions (85 degrees and sunny). We had more volunteers show up to help witness this time than any previous time we had gone out. I again had the opportunity to witness to people that may not otherwise hear the Good News. While I was not challenged to the extent that I was in December, I was still able to speak with at least one person who had some sincere questions and wanted a dialogue. I praise God for that blessing and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide Kenneth to salvation.
So, now the question is…What are YOU doing for Christ? We are all called to spread the Gospel using whatever means that we have. There is enough work that all of us can find something to do. An old preacher once said that even if you know very little about the Word, go out and find someone to share that knowledge with…they likely know less than you. The question is, if you are a Christian and you are not doing service for the Lord, what would you say you are doing? Just something to think about… 🙂
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