Some conversations are really worth having. I don’t mean the ones of meaningless banter. I mean the conversations of depth, honesty, and heck intellect is great too!
During the duration of the three days of the “Everything to do with Sex” show in Toronto, we had many conversations. We had mostly quick dialogues of explaining xxxChurch, why we were there, or “is this Christian porn?” [really people…really?]. A lot of people were on a mission to get to all of the booths, so they meticulously timed how long conversations would be anywhere as to not miss anything. Others were freebirds, taking their time through the hall, taking in everything at every booth. Often the conversations of quick passers-by were simple “Jesus loves you, here’s a book and a sticker”. Other times it would be answering a few questions about the church [which isn’t actually a church but a non-profit ministry]. But on those beautiful rarer occasions where curiosity was birthed, boredom was thriving, and questions were rising….
…we had ourselves some real conversations.
There are two conversations in particular that stuck out for me. Toward the end of the late night shift of the show on Friday night one of the girls from our group started a conversation with a 23 year old atheist named Matt*. He had just decided to stop by the convention and check out the goods. Somehow he began to get into a theological debate with our team member. Honestly, he was looking for a fight to see if we were the real deal. After about 30 minutes, give or take, I was brought into the conversation which was subjected on historicity of the Christian church, credibility of the Bible, and higher powers. Matt* was definitely educated on Christianity and its history, Roman history, and Judaic and other religious histories. He knew his stuff. However, so did we. I feel like I have my Apologetics professor, Dr. Davis, to thank for helping me a few years ago while in college. After about another 30-45 minutes the conversation closed. Though it would seem like we got nowhere with this guy, who was not at all annoyed or angry with my team member or myself, I believe the outcome of our intellectual debate was great. He thanked us for not being mad at him though he knew he was an asshole [his words not mine]. He thanked us for not backing down on our side of the conversational debate. I could tell, from this kids background, story, and even his education, that he definitely wants more. He wants something to believe [which he did tell us] but doesn’t know where to find it without religion. Right before he walked away, he told us how he had more fun chatting and debating with us (for what I believe was almost 1 1/2 hours) than walking around looking at tits. He was a 23 year old male… I’ll take that as a compliment to our conversation. Matt* I am praying for you, wherever you are. Don’t be afraid to let faith come before intellect or understanding.
It would seem as if my Saturday night repeated Friday night only with a different guy and subject matter. One of the camera guys from the expo stopped by our booth around 10 pm to see if he could get a free shirt. Luckily we had one for him. I had met Sam* a few times before in the weekend, quick hellos, etc. but this conversation was totally different and it was fantastic! I gave Sam* the free t-shirt and then we started to small talk. It began with basic questions about xxxChurch and then about his job as a photographer. He had some great stories. He spoke of his desire to do more for others, like humanitarian work. He specifically mentioned Habitat for Humanity and disaster response. I could tell he wanted to do good for others. As we continued our conversation he asked me more questions on why I am involved with xxxChurch, the humanitarian work I’ve done, but then the conversation took a twist that could have only be directed by God.
He asked about forgiveness. For whatever reason the conversation switched to discuss if anyone could be forgiven regardless of what atrocities they could have done. I felt the need to share two examples of extreme grace and forgiveness, which for the sake of not wanting to write every detail I will omit from this post. Redemption is the core of the story of Jesus. His love is for anyone who wants it. His grace is for us. Redemption is the product of a life turned to Jesus. For about an hour I was able to share with Sam* the beauty of Jesus’ love in my own life, why its the driving force for everything I do, and even why I believe God could have incredible plans for him if he opened his life to Him. Sam* was so engaged in the conversation that he missed a nude woman walked by us, only covered with tiny pasties and a string… a literally string. He was not only engaged in the conversation, he wanted to know more. Sadly the conversation had to end because the convention was wrapping up for the night. I believe something was stirred inside of Sam*. I could tell he wants more. I could tell, though he loves his life, he desires something greater. Sam* [you know who you really are], if you read this please know that not only do I believe Jesus loves you deeply, but I believe that Jesus could have far greater plans for your life than just photographing celebrities [though that’s pretty cool]. I believe your heart for wanting to help people is fantastic and I think the love of Jesus could make it that much stronger and deeper. I know you still have tons of questions and I sincerely hope you follow up with us like you promised.
Conversations matter. Taking the time to share your story with someone, Jesus’ love, or even just listening to their story could make such a difference. You never the impact a simple conversation could have on someone’s life. Never underestimate it. And never be afraid to be used by God in any conversations. I am so grateful for the people I met this weekend. For the conversations I had, short and longer, I am grateful. I hope they each felt loved by Jesus because he does deeply love each and every one of them.
[Matt* and Sam* are not the real names of the individuals I spoke with]