Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Evangelism at the Kansas State Fair

As many of you know, last week was the Kansas State Fair. Our church, for the fourth straight year, used the fair as an opportunity to share Jesus. Here are my thoughts after the 120 hours that GBC spent at the fair.

First, I am so thankful for the gospel. I walked around the fair a lot this year. I spent one whole day with my son's fifth grade class. I saw just about everything the fair had to offer (even the birthing barns, wow!). And from my perspective, there were many cool things that were for sale. There were many technological items that would make our lives so much more fun. But there was only one thing that was given away for free that can change a person for eternity: the gospel!

I did notice there were a few other religious booths at the fair this year. I did not get a chance to talk to them. Maybe you did. I hope they were preaching a biblical gospel. I hope they were showing people their need for a righteousness not of their own. I hope they were telling people they cannot do it on their own. I hope they were offering grace and mercy as Jesus did upon the cross. I hope WE DID! I just can't talk enough about the gospel. I know for some of you, I sound like a dripping faucet. But as I spent several hours telling person after person about the good news of Jesus, my heart was renewed. How could God forgive a sinner like ME? How could He offer me something that I do not deserve? I do not have that answer, but after sharing the gospel again, I was driven to be so thankful for what He has done in my life.

Second, My heart is broken at the countless lost people we talked to. Maybe if you served at the fair you had more positive conversations with people than I did (I did have some good ones). But I was stunned once again how many people think they can work their way to heaven. I know it should not surprise me, but as I asked that last question: "do you avoid hell by living a good life?" almost every single person said "YES." I have heard it said before that all religion can be boiled down into two questions: What can I do or what has Jesus done? 
The tub of surveys that were filled out
Jesus says the road is wide that leads to destruction but narrow that leads to life. I saw that in living color the past ten days. So many people are deceived. So many people think that if they just live a good enough life, they can make it to heaven. That is not true. The standard is perfection! But we can receive the perfect righteousness of Jesus when we come to Him in faith.

We talked to thousands of people. We had almost 600 surveys filled out by people, which means that over 600 people went all the way through the gospel message. But I would be that we talk to 2 or 3 times as many people as those that fill out the surveys. In addition to that, we hand out 10 times as many gospel tracts as we do talk to people. The message was proclaimed loud and hopefully clear.

Third, I rejoice at the 60 people that served at the tent this year. That's right. We had 60 different people spend time at the State Fair Booth this year. Our church is just over 500 people, which means, that we had over 10% of our church serve this year. That is great! There were many people who did this for the first time and many who have done it every year. There are some who were scared and timid and others who are evangelism soldiers, not scared at anything.

One particular person I am so proud of is my son, Karsten. He is 10 years old and he thinks it is totally cool to go to the fair and pass out tracts. He is not talking to people, but he wants to pass out literature about Jesus. I suppose that he has not matured to the point to realize that it is a scary thing to give spiritual literature to others. He spent a couple hours with me on Wednesday afternoon. After we were done, as we were driving home. I told him my prayer for him is that he will never lose that desire to pass out tracts or tell people about Jesus. I am praying that he will be an evangelist that is eager to share Jesus with others every day!

Fourth, I am sad that many others did not serve. Sixty people is a lot of people, but I wish there had been more. Each year, there are so many new people that serve. But that means that those who have served in the past are not doing it again. I have tried to ask myself why that is the case. I know for some it was work, for some it was kid issues, and for others, it was just that this year was really just too busy. What was your reason? Was it a good one? Really, I mean was it a really, valid reason? I hope it was not that you were scared or timid. We all are. My prayer is that next year, you will do it.

Dean Fast talking to some young ladies that he had
talked to last year. He told me he had just taken her off
his prayer list, but that she was going back on!
Fifth, I am hopeful that many were brought to faith. We are not about getting people to pray a prayer as if it is some magical incantation. We want to be faithful to share the gospel, point them to Jesus, and let the Spirit of God do His drawing works. Don't get me wrong, we want them to get right with God. We do pray with many people. But we do not think that praying some sort of prayer is saving.

I know there were many people that we have talked to the past couple of years that have come back and told us how much they appreciated their time with us. One couple I talked to this year left saying, "I really needed to hear that. Thank you for sharing that message with me. I am so glad I walked into your tent." Dean Fast had a conversation with a couple young ladies this year that he talked to last year. It is our prayer that God does His work through us as we are faithful to spreading the seed of His gospel! I fully expect to spend some time in heaven with some that we shared with. I truly believe God will use us as a link in the chain to seeing others come to faith. We do not do this to expand Grace Bible Church, we do it to help others see the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Sixth, I am sorrowful that we do not share the gospel like this every week. I hope I do not live my calling to be an evangelist only on the state fair. I hope I don't have the attitude "well, I shared with so many people, that's my quota for the year." I hope I take every opportunity that I have this coming year. Do you feel the same way?

Let me end with a copy of the letter that Pastor Rick read on Sunday morning. I have taken the names out as I am sure they were not expecting it to be broadcast on the internet. I hope this moves you to thankfulness as well as excitement for what we did and what we have left to do.
My husband and I were at the fair last Wednesday (19th) and just happened by your booth on our way out about 6:30 or so.  Your sign was so 'catchy' that I talked Jack into going in to find out if he was a good person or a bad person.  (He's a very good person) 

I didn't get the name of the young lady who was talking with us, but I certainly wish I had.  She was so pleasant and gracious.  I told her [my  husband] was hard of hearing so she moved her chair closer to him and talked right into his good, right ear.  I couldn't believe my ears when she asked the first question--'do you consider yourself a religious person?"   But her final question is one I have wanted someone to ask him for years!  If you died today, are you certain you will go to Heaven?  I could have cried at his answer--"I don't know". 

[My husband] and I have been married 56 years this November and he has always been faithful to go to church with me.  We have always been active in a church and Sunday school.  But all of that still hasn't penetrated into a living relationship with Christ that he will admit to. 

But I think your booth is ingenious.  There is no 'hard sell' and who knows what might happen to those who are not believers?  The seed is sown.  God bless each of your members who have put their time into your venture.

2 comments:

  1. I talked with 4 10 & 11 year-old girls. They had just been to another church's booth. When I asked, "Would you go to Heaven or Hell?" they replied, "Heaven, because we just said a prayer at the other booth."

    I shared the gospel with them anyway, and asked them if they had heard this before. They said no and that this is not what they heard earlier that day.

    Keeping in mind that they are 10 & 11 years old and may not have been paying close attention to the people at the other booth, I still was saddened. The last thing I wanted was for them to walk away believing that they were OKAY because they said a prayer at the state fair.

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  2. Thanks for keeping us updated on the booth this year. We were sad to not be there next to you, but we were with you in prayer!

    My favorite thing that you shared in this post is how we are seeing some "repeat" people from previous years. How exciting!

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