I Got Saved at a Convenience Store by a Hippie Street Evangelist

A Street Evangelist Led Me to My Purpose

by Mike Robinson

He must have been born around 1955 and ministered on the streets of Southern California: rough-looking, a Jesus-people participant and not much of a worldly success. But he was a marvelous evangelist, gifted for all-comers. So he headed to the 7-Eleven on Roscoe Boulevard to witness to traditional Valley Girls and Guys, whose lives revolved around the beach, cars, and sports.

You don’t get famous that way, but in 1979 he won a minor league baseball player to the Lord. The ballplayer was me—happy, content, addiction-free, godless, and enjoying life. In the middle of the store, during our only encounter, the evangelist confronted me with the reality of heaven and hell as he called me to Jesus, as the other customers noticed a loud conversation regarding my eternal destiny and, mesmerized, watched me pray with the street minister over the shop counter.

In a set that looked like a 1970’s convenience store (because it was a 1970’s convenience store), with music from Seals and Crofts playing in the background, the reality of my sin and need of a Savior struck me for the first time, and the possibility of hell suddenly became conspicuous. Even though I was only looking for milk and a Hershey Bar, I came to Christ that night. That unknown evangelist has a big part in the dozens of books I have written, the pastoral work I have fulfilled, and all the people I have been blessed to lead to Jesus.

Yet the evangelist, whose name I did not get, never became famous himself. His era was filled with countless hippy-type evangelists—a very roll call of radical Christians, including such ministers as Greg Laurie, Wally Tope, and Craig Englert—but they tended to be kind, patient, or at least the hosts of great luaus. My nameless friend, however, never made it big or gained headlines. There are no churches or seminaries built by him. I just remember the scruffy clothes, beard, bare-feet, and beaming smile. He was aggressive with love and mercy, and he appeared to have lived by two rules: one, tell everyone about Jesus; and, two, tell everybody else about Jesus. Everyone. Assertive and gracious, he pursued souls the hard way: on the streets with strangers.

He was an ordinary man with extraordinary passion. He worked hard for the eternal benefit of others. Above all, he followed Jesus and brought the lost to his Lord—an unsung hero because he was personally in it for God alone and not any self-aggrandizement. One day when I am in heaven, I want to ask an angel to run the footage—replay the night I stumbled into 7-Eleven looking for candy but finding a glorious treasure. Mr. Gabriel, Sir, run the footage, and please go to the next room. I want to weep and rejoice as I rerun the moment Jesus called me to Himself—the moment I found real purpose.

Forget all about your problems and just go and share your faith—help others find their eternal purpose.

Understanding the Influence of Worldviews

It is absolutely safe to say that if you meet somebody who claims not to believe in evolution, that person is ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked (Richard Dawkins).

And unguided evolutionary theory of course, though a key, relentless issue, is only one. At the bottom, the worldview foundation, truth can only be supported by Almighty God. Thus, non-essential issues simply dissolve away. My concern is that worldview themes breed, grow and are pressed on believers as daily pestering by belligerent atheists who, uneducated in logic, theology, and ethics raise issues in a shotgun style. In some circles, Christians are more alarmed than in the past, and consequently less focused evangelizing the lost. And as the New Atheists increase their vitriolic attacks, I am concerned that Christians will withdrawal, even, in the future, to abandoning outreach to atheists and other hardcore sinners.

What should Christians do to make things better? At this point I look to a powerful yet often unnoticed truth that will make a real impact. It is the actuality that individuals are raised in a particular moral background and they tend to think that background and its presuppositions are true and will always remain true. Understanding the guiding power of competing worldviews will have a powerful effect in the communication of Christian truth.

Much of Western Europe is no longer Christian-centered. In contrast, American Christianity has grown and remains vibrant because it focused on Jesus Christ, the Bible, and the gospel. Additionally, from Jonathan Edwards to Josh McDowell, Christians in the U.S. have focused on apologetics.

In previous generations, I have come to think that many Christians in America were raised on the gospel and with some measure of instruction on defending the faith. The American Church in the past was so vigorous, muscular, and equipped that it could absorb any blow. This reality of the Kingdom became their governing assumption: Skeptics could throw any amount of punches at the church, Darwinian roundhouses and all, and it would be fine.

The controlling element of culture they were raised in is the reality that lived in their heads: the Judeo-Christian worldview. But when the nasty New Atheists went wild in the present, in which the rationally unprepared could actually be flustered, even disconcerted, things appeared different. All this reflects an intellectual culture of brute and irrational contempt, the type of rational environment[1] that makes the world worse. Nonetheless, I think the acrimony of the New Atheists birthed scores of apologists and ministries aimed at defending the Faith.

In the lives of countless congregations one can find leaders and members trained in tearing down false worldviews as they defend the truth. The church in America has always managed to maneuver itself through rough waters, pressed its way through intellectual challenges, survived every rational contest not only intact but more robust. Today, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we may be seeing a renaissance in apologetics; it’s growing wide and my prayer is it will grow deep.

The muscled, knowledgeable church is not merely in the past. Certainty, reason, and scriptural truth can still be extolled today as the church “takes the Kingdom and takes it by force” (Matthew 11:12). A winsome rational defense has to be practiced as well as demonstrated.

Truth has to be protected every season, in part by what atheists and false religionists say. But ultimately, the believer must repose upon the truth of God revealed in Scripture. God exists and all men know it (Romans 1:18-21). Proclaim it, defend it, and live it.

I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).

For the fresh and powerful proof for God see my book Reality and the Folly of Atheism HERE on Amazon

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Note

 

1. One cannot have the analysis of evidence without God. The God of the Bible is the precondition for the examination of evidence. Analysis uses induction, empirical testing, the laws of logic, and morality. One cannot account for any of those dynamics without God and His revelation. In a moment of honesty, renowned philosopher W.V. Quine, granted: “The collapse of empiricism (truth is found through man’s senses) would admit extra input ... by revelation.” Considering that empiricism is self-refuting (one cannot measure by seeing or hearing the definition of empiricism, so it collapses under its own load) it must concede truth claims to revelation by God and the general application of its precepts. Frame notes, “It is the responsibility of the Christian to regard God’s word as absolutely certain, and to make that word the criterion of all other sources of knowledge. Our certainty of the truth of God comes ultimately, not through rational demonstration or empirical verification, useful as these may often be, but from the authority of God’s own word. God’s word does testify to itself, often, by means of human testimony and historical evidence: the ‘proofs’ of Acts 1:3, the centurion’s witness in Luke 23:47, the many witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus in 1 Cor. 15:1-11. But we should never forget that these evidences come to us with God’s own authority. In 1 Cor. 15, Paul asks the church to believe the evidence because it is part of the authoritative apostolic preaching.” Rational pre-commitments assist in directing one’s investigation and analysis of the data (as well as its interpretation and communication). This admission is often difficult to get from some atheistic inquirers to acknowledge. What worldview can furnish the a priori necessities and rational tools for science, analysis, research and proof? Christian theism delivers the epistemic ground for the a priori immutable universals utilized in rational enquiry and proof; in principle, materialistic atheism cannot furnish the aforementioned ground. What is obligatory to account for analysis and proof is a first principle that has the ontological endowment to not only ground it, but to account for proof and its preconditions—all the universal operational features of knowledge. The loss of the immovable point of reference, in principle, leaves the ungodly bereft of a resource necessary to construct the analytical enterprise required to prove anything. Without God, one cannot hoist the necessary a priori operation features of the intellectual examination of evidence and proof. The Christian worldview supplies the fixed ontic platform as the sufficient truth condition that can justify induction, immutable universals, attributes, identity, and the uniformity of the physical world. But materialistic atheism lacks such a fixed ontic platform. Consequently, it fails to provide the sufficient ground required to justify enquiry, research, evidence, and proof.