Have you ever heard of the “DTs”? The letters stand for “delirium tremens,” and they come as a result of alcohol withdrawal. The DTs are characterized by severe shaking, profuse sweating, paranoia, and frightening hallucinations. You will get the DTs when you go to your local fishing hole. (Christian DTs are “discouraging thoughts,” and a “fishing hole” is a place where you go to deliberately share your faith.) The DTs will begin from the moment you think about going fishing. You will get the sweats, the shakes, paranoia, and you will have hallucinations—frightening pictures of terrible things to come.
The Bible says that our fight is against dark and sinister demonic forces (see Ephesians 6:12). The area of the enemy’s attack is our mind. In a sense we are like unconverted ex-alcoholics. They never see themselves as being free from the disease. Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic. It is healthy to think like that because it makes them recognize their weakness. They have to understand that they will have a daily battle with the temptation to drink alcohol until the moment they die. That’s how you and I have to battle the temptation to be paranoid about seeking the lost: daily.
“Fear is one of the greatest possessions we have, depending on what we do with it. It can either paralyze or prostrate us.”
However, there is a big difference for the Christian. Fear is one of the greatest possessions we have, depending on what we do with it. It can either paralyze or prostrate us. If it paralyzes us and stops us from sharing our faith, it becomes our worst weakness. If it prostrates us before the Lord, crying, “Oh God, I am so scared. Please help me to stand up for You,” then it becomes our strength. It makes us trust in God. Our worst weakness then becomes our greatest strength. So always welcome fear to your doorstep, and then slam the door of faith in its face. It doesn’t need to come into your house. Just having it close at hand will make you pray.
How to Beat the DTs
One great key to personal witnessing is to be resolute. You have to realize that you have an incredibly important agenda, and you must determine that nothing is going to deter you. You have the mindset that you are going to have your mind set on seeking the lost. When the DTs come, you will know why they are coming, and you will know how to deal with them. Your weapon is the shield of faith, and its function is to quench all the fearful and fiery darts of the enemy.
Faith always overcomes fear. The “fear” that comes to your mind is that if you bring up the things of God, the stranger you have approached will think that you are a religious weirdo. But you know that if he dies in his sins, he will go to Hell…forever. Concern for his eternal salvation will help you ignore the DTs. Simply think of this reality: his worst-case scenario is the Lake of Fire; yours is that a stranger will think that you are weird. So you must make your approach. You are able to do this because you are mentally prepared. That resolute preparation will help you fight off your fears. Your feet have been “shod…with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, italics added). Your feet know where they are going because of your preparation. If you are hoping for inspiration without preparation, you may just end up with perspiration.
So, prepare for where you are going to take the conversation. You will greet the person with a warm and courteous, “Did you get one of these?” The “these” to which you are referring are gospel tracts. They are bait for your hook. If you don’t have a good quality bait, you won’t even get a nibble. When you get a bite on your bait, you then have to take control. Quickly pull in the hook with a confident resolve. You know where you want to go, so steer the conversation in that direction. You can do this with practice. So come with me, and let’s do some fishing.
It’s a warm Saturday afternoon around 4:00 p.m. Long Beach Town Center is swirling with activity. There’s nothing as exciting for fishermen as seeing the ocean’s surface swirling, revealing that shawls of fish are just beneath the surface.
Birds above the scene are another indication that fish are present. “Birds” in Scripture are often “types” of the demonic realm. The enemy is ever present when fish are about to be caught.
I walk ahead of our group and see a couple sitting on a bench. I don’t hesitate for a moment because that will feed my fears. I have prepared. I know where I am going to go with the conversation, and that gives me comfort.
“Hello. Did you get one of these?”
They don’t answer, but they each take a Million Dollar Bill tract. That in itself is an encouragement. I add, “It’s great when you get the change.”
They don’t smile, so I ask, “Where are you from?”
The woman replies, “Indonesia.”
I’m consoled that their lack of evident response to such quality humor isn’t personal. It’s cultural.
“That’s a gospel tract. Have you had a Christian background?”
They both say that they haven’t, so I then ask, “Do you ever think about what’s going to happen to you after you die? Will you go to Heaven? Do you think that you are good people?”
They both do, so I take them through a few of the Commandments. I ask if they have lied, stolen, blasphemed, and looked with lust. They had. They admit that they were guilty, heading for Hell.
“If you are hoping for inspiration without preparation, you may just end up with perspiration.”
Because there was little verbal interaction, I took them through the gospel and their need of repentance and faith in Jesus. The woman looked at me and said, “We are Buddhists.”
I smiled and said, “That doesn’t matter. Buddhism makes no provision to wash away your sins. Only Jesus can do that.”
I thanked them for listening and moved on. I had the consolation that even though there was little interaction, they had heard the gospel clearly and were both still holding the tracts.
Fishing in a Frozen Pond
I walked toward three teenagers who were sitting by a fountain. Once again, I took out three Million Dollar Bill tracts and gave a friendly, “Did you guys get one of these?” All three refused. That was unusual. So I used my old faithful: “Check the other side.” Curiosity almost always got a change of mind from someone who initially refused to take the tract. But that didn’t work. They totally ignored my words. It’s frustrating when fish don’t bite, especially when you are using proven bait. Change of bait. I reached into my pocket and grabbed my faithful “Department of Annoyance” tract. This looks like a business card, and when someone coldly refuses to take a bill, I follow it up with an official-sounding, “This is where I’m from.”
Only one responded and took it. But this kid didn’t even crack a smile as he looked at the card. That was unusual. I said, “I’m the director of the Department of Annoyance.”
Still no reaction. I reached for my wallet and did some sleight of hand. That made them smile, so I pointed at the card and said, “That’s a gospel tract. Have you guys had Christian backgrounds? Do you ever think about what’s going to happen to you after you die?”
I was hoping for some response, and I finally got it. One of them looked at me and earnestly said, “We…don…speak English.”
The four of us laughed, and I left. It had taken me about three minutes to figure out that the lake in which I had been trying to fish was frozen solid, and that was the reason for the cold response. I wasn’t discouraged that my icebreakers didn’t work because even seeming failures add to our experience. Besides, failures are relative.
Ignoring the DTs
My final Long Beach fishing session happened when I saw another three teenagers heading my way. Hopefully they spoke English. I resolutely stepped in front of them and said, “Did you guys get your million?” They grabbed one each.
“Wanna see a trick?” They did. They were very impressed.
“Those are gospel tracts. Do you have Christian backgrounds?” They were Catholics. I ignored the DTs about Mary, the pope, confession, purgatory, transubstantiation, etc. Instead I asked if they considered themselves to be good people. They did, and after going through the Law, one asked, “But what about asking for forgiveness?” I told them that that wouldn’t help them. They needed to repent and trust in Jesus alone for their salvation. They were very sober.
“You are young guys, and you are surrounded by sexual temptations. Get your heart right with God because you don’t know when you are going to die.”
I told them that 150,000 people die every 24 hours and that there was nothing more important than their eternal salvation. Afterwards they were upbeat and seemed to appreciate my concern for them.
Our team (made up of two members of my staff and three of their friends) then met in a well-known coffee shop, and we compared fishing stories. We spoke about trying to fish on ice. The ones that got away. Nibbles and bites. And of course, the DTs.