This article appeared in our Volume 8, Number 3 Summer 2018 issue of OneVoice.
… at Brighton Beach recently I decided to go to Manhattan where the Lord had given me many opportunities to share Christ and the gospel during my first two weeks here (NYC) in July. I passed through the turnstile at the Avenue J and 14th Street train station just as an MTA worker was finishing up securing a red tape across the entrance to the Manhattan bound Q trains with a sign reading: NO TRAINS TO MANHATTAN FROM THIS STATION. And so, I made an 180° turn and headed up the stairs for the Coney Island bound trains wondering what the Lord had planned for me today.
It didn’t take long once I departed from the Brighton Beach Station about 20 minutes later. I walked along and within a few minutes I passed a young man sitting on one of the benches lining the boardwalk. He was wearing a tee shirt with the following written in bold letters on the back: FANATIC ADVOCATE FOR JUSTICE.
I walked over to him and commented about the saying on his back, and asked why his fanaticism for justice. I found out that he (Israel) is a senior at John Jay University, majoring in Criminal Justice with a particular interest in forensic psychology, hoping to go on to graduate school next year with the intention of someday counseling the victims of violent crimes. Hearing about his acute interest in justice, I asked: “Do you think that God is just?” His response: “I used to think He was, but no longer.” (I would find out later what changed his mind.)
By using some illustrations and examples that Israel could relate to with his criminal justice education, I set out to convince him that God is just and that He has to punish those who have disobeyed His commands. When I saw that Israel was tracking with me, I then explained how God demonstrated His mercy by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to suffer the righteous wrath of God that we deserve for our sins. I told him that God was satisfied with Jesus’ death on our behalf and proved it by raising Jesus from the dead. It was all making sense to Israel. I then explained the difference between “believing” about Jesus and “trusting” Him as Lord and Savior. We read (John 1:1-18) and I explained the new birth and the new relationship that a sinner has with God when the Lord Jesus Christ comes into his life.
I could see that Israel understood and was interested, so I asked if there was anything keeping him from trusting the Lord Jesus as Savior today. He said, “Yes, my past.” He didn’t want to elaborate at first, but eventually with tears in his eyes he told me that two years ago he got testicular cancer and almost died.
That was perceived as an injustice by God and resulted in his current bitterness toward God. Seeing that this bitterness was rooted
deep in Israel’s heart, I told him that God is sovereign and works all things together for good, and that it is possible God allowed this cancer to get his attention and to make him think about death, which most healthy college guys do not.
Israel acknowledged that the cancer did make him very aware of and concerned about death. I then told him how God brought me to him today with this good news of salvation for his soul – which is a more critical matter than cancer. He agreed. With that I went through the Romans Road – reading Romans 3:10,23; 6:23; 5:10 and 10:9-13. I asked again: “Is there anything preventing you from trusting Jesus Christ as your Savior today?”
This time, there was not. With tears in his eyes, Israel followed me in a prayer for salvation. I assured him that if what he said was from his heart then he was now justified, in a right relationship with God. When I discussed follow up, Israel told me that one of his friends at college is a believer and goes to a Christian Union. I told Israel to tell that friend about the decision he had just made and to get involved in the Christian Union. When it was time for Israel to go, I gave him a copy of the New Testament; and God gave me the assurance that this was where He wanted me to be today. There were others I shared with during the rest of the day, but nothing surpasses the news of another sinner saved.
And when I arrived back at 14th Street and Avenue J that evening and walked over that red tape that barred me from entering the platform to Manhattan that morning, I thanked God for the red tapes He sets up in my life.
For He says, In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you. Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
2 Corinthians 6:2
Mr. Lenahan has served with
the BFC as both missionary and pastor.