I am always amazed at the people whom God brings to our festivals each year. Each year we have the privilege of going to different parts of the world and sharing the love of Christ with all kinds of people. This last summer, we arrived in Benidorm to partner with pastor Bruno who is leading a church in the city. We have incorporated our short term mission strategy for over a decade throughout Europe and we were hoping that we would see God work in a mighty way in Benidorm.
All our festivals were to take place in an amphitheater right next to the city hall building of Benidorm. It was a great location and one where many teens loved to hang out. Many times when we are given permits we find that we have been granted to perform where the gangs like to hang out and this was no exception. But this gang looked a little more sinister than any others that I had seen before today. I was willing to leave this group alone especially seeing that a few of them had red contacts in their eyes and looked a little like the type of scary you don't want to mess with ever. I thought, "Well we have the right to be there so if we don't bother them then they shouldn't bother us." I didn't share my thoughts with anyone else but I just decided to mind my own business.
That said I got to work arranging and setting up our group for the festival. Before long, a few from our group, decided they were going to go talk with them. It was one of those moments that you see happening and you can't do anything to prevent because it happened so fast. It is not that I am ashamed of the gospel, not at all, I was just afraid of those guys. But God was teaching me something important. Because in Romans 1 when Paul says why he is not ashamed of the gospel, he explains that precisely the fact that it is the power of God. This is to say that his power comes from the message which is powerful. Why be ashamed of great news right?
So, back to the story. Our team began to share with these guys sitting up in the amphitheater and as they would later tell me, my suspicions were confirmed: they were of the type you don't want to mess with ever! "We are satanists," they said. "We aren't interested in what you have to share." The people from our group boldly said, "Really? Wow, then you have to listen to what we have to say. This message is for you!" Wow! To my surprise the teens listened intently. While I was working on the set up I looked up at what was going on and I saw the group listening for quite a while. Then I got busy with other things.
When I next thought to look up at the group, they were no longer there but neither was anyone from our group. I scanned the festival and saw that all of them were in our gospel booth. All of them were standing and listening intently with a bracelet in hand. Luis, one of our students was passionately sharing his testimony as well as explaining the message that the bracelet proclaims; the message of salvation!
After a few more minutes I looked back and the boys were gone from the tent. Where were they? Back sitting up in the amphitheater. Every single one of them with a New Testament in their hands and reading it intently while we carried on our festival.As the week went on these boys were with us every day. They came to help with the set up of the festival and the take down and then we had to be at another location in the city later on during the week and they came to that place as well.
I was reminded once again that God is all powerful even to melt the most hardened hearts. The gospel is the power of God! I am eager to go and share the good news all throughout the year because God is at work and because His word does not return void but it is at work moment by moment. Join in His work whatever your station in life. God is doing great things and he wants to use you!