Contrition is a genuine sorrow for sin, and the Scriptures tell us that it is the catalyst for genuine repentance. So why don’t we focus on this attribute in modern evangelism?
May 13, 2021
The phone woke me at 4:30 a.m. I showered, dressed, and then made my way down for the 5:10 a.m. hotel shuttle to the Denver airport. I gave the lady at the desk a Million Dollar Bill tract and waited outside for the shuttle to arrive.
As I sat down, a man in his mid-twenties—who had followed me out of the hotel—asked me for a tract. It was 5:00 a.m., and I really didn’t feel like witnessing. I gave him one and reluctantly asked, “It’s a gospel tract. Do you know what a gospel tract is?”
“It’s about what happens after you die. Where do you think people go to?”
“Heaven or Hell.”
“Where do you think you will go?”
“Heaven, I hope.”
“Do you think you are a good person?”
He hesitated and said, “Yes.”
“What’s your name?”
Peter was from Ukraine, and despite his heavy accent, he was understandable.
I took him through the Commandments, and he, of course, proved to be a lying, thieving, lust-filled blasphemer.
“Do you think you will go to Heaven or Hell?”
“Does that concern you?”
“Yes, it does.”
“Do you know what God did for you so that you wouldn’t go to Hell?”
Peter had obviously had a Christian background because he then talked clearly about the cross, repentance, and faith in Jesus.
“When do you think you will get right with God?”
He hesitated to answer.
“If you died right now, where would you go?”
“Shouldn’t you get right with God today? Now?”
Peter then said, “Today is the day of salvation,” and soberly repeated the verse.
I gave him the book What Hollywood Believes and a CD of the same name. Just then, a taxi driver came over to us. I also gave him a Million Dollar Bill and a CD, and I did a little sleight of hand for them both. The taxi driver loved the entertainment, and then he returned to his vehicle.
I talked with Peter again about getting right with God that day and about how death can snatch us at any time. Then I did a little more magic and decided to wave the enthusiastic taxi driver back for some more early morning entertainment. But as he got out of the car, I realized that it was a different taxi driver. The first one must have taken off with a customer while I was talking to Peter. He walked over with a rather mystified expression on his face. I did some magic, which he also loved, and gave him a CD before he went back to his vehicle.
I waited until 5:22 a.m. The super shuttle was super late, so I decided that I had better get a taxi rather than miss my flight. When I waved to my new friend, he jumped out of his taxi, put my bags in the trunk, and we were off to the airport.
“What’s your name?”
“Where are you from?”
“What’s this pamphlet? It looks like Hebrew.”
In front of me was what looked like an Islamic tract, presumably placed so that (Arabic-speaking) passengers would see it.
“Where do you think you will go when you die?”
“I hope to go to Heaven. I will have to wait until I die to see.”
“What if you don’t make it?”
“I don’t know. I ask God to forgive me all the time.”
Housan then changed the subject a little. “Islam is a peaceful religion.”
“But what about jihad? If I’m an infidel, don’t you have to kill me?”
“No. Whoever does that is not a Muslim. We believe in Jesus. He was a prophet. I believe in Jesus more than you do. We believe in Moses also.”
I knew that I had at least 30 minutes to take him through the Commandments, so I decided to make a very important point before doing so.
“What would you think if a man raped and murdered a woman and then said to a judge, ‘Judge, I’m really sorry about what I did. I won’t do it again, so you can let me go?’”
Housan gave a mocking laugh and said that the judge would never let the man go. He had to be punished.
“That’s right. If the judge is good, he has to make sure that justice is done, that the man is punished.”
“Have you heard of the Ten Commandments?”
“That was the Law that God gave to Moses. You shall not lie, steal, kill, or commit adultery.”
“Yes, that’s right. It’s wrong to do those things.”
“Housan, have you ever lied?”
“Yes, when I was younger.”
“So that makes you a liar. Have you ever stolen anything?”
“No. That’s one thing I wouldn’t do. Someone left a bag in my taxi once. I didn’t even open it, and the owner gave me a $500 reward when I returned it.”
“Have you ever used God’s name in vain?”
“What do you mean?”
“Have you said, ‘Oh my G-d!’ or ‘G-d this or that’?”
“Yes, I have done that. Is it wrong?”
“Yes. It’s using God’s name as a cuss word, and it’s called blasphemy. It’s very wrong. Jesus said, ‘You have heard it said, “You shall not commit adultery,” but I say to you, whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.’ Have you ever looked at a woman with lust…with sexual desire?”
For the next few minutes, Housan tried to justify himself. He first pleaded ignorance as to what I meant by desiring a woman. After some vivid explanations of what I meant, he finally admitted to lusting after women.
“So, Housan, by your own admission, you are a lying, blasphemous adulterer at heart. What’s going to happen to you on Judgment Day? God can’t let you go just because you are sorry and you won’t do it again. He must punish you because He is good. You will end up in Hell.”
He didn’t try to justify himself, so I then shared the cross with him and the necessity of repentance and faith. I emphasized the fact that his fine was paid by God in Christ.
He said, “What do you think will happen to Muslims?”
“Anyone who dies without Christ as their Savior will be guilty before God and end up in Hell. Anyone.”
He then asked, “How many wives can a Christian have?”
“Not more than seventy.”
Housan laughed out loud.
“You’re funny. Thank you for talking to me.”
As we parked at the Denver airport, I gave him a generous tip and the book What Hollywood Believes, and I prayed with him—that God would reveal the cross to him, confirm the truth of what I had said, and continue to bless him and his family with health.