Rambling through my mind, I recalled a rather unique experience in evangelism many years ago. The Rev. Jack Miller invited a few of us new ministers to work with him in projects of evangelism. The one I am remembering was bar hopping evangelism. Jack was an up-front guy, so the first thing he did when we entered a neighborhood bar was to introduce himself to the bar tender, and explain that we were not here to cause trouble, but just to talk to anyone who wanted to share their problems. Most bar keeps are a bit weary of hearing the same problems from the same guys day by day anyway.
So when we had permission to be there, we ordered drinks and sat on bar stools at different places around the room. I ordered a ginger ale, and proceeded to nurse my drink for about an hour, wondering what in the world was I doing here. Next to me, at the corner of the bar, was a talkative young man, gulping down several beers, faster than I can drink water. My frustration was that he was talking to the guy on the other side of him, and I had no idea how I could wedge my way into the conversation in any fashion that seemed natural. More than once he needed to excuse himself to visit the men's room. What goes in must come out, and there was a lot of fluid going in.
Just about the time I thought this experiment was a failure, this guy turns to me and asks, "And what do you do?" (gulp) Okay here goes nothing. As soon as I tell him that I am a minister, I'm sure that will shut off the conversation--but it didn't! "I'm a minister of the gospel." "You are?" he responded with a genuine enthusiasm. "I've got a lot I wanted to ask a minister." That encouraged me to be a little bolder. "Yeah, we came in to talk to any guys who want to talk about their problems, but mostly to talk about how you can have eternal life."
I told him a few of my favorite gospel stories, and he listened with what I judged to be sincere attention. His big question was, "How can you be so sure?" I told him my story of conversion while watching Billy Graham on television, and my timid call to the ministry, and he still wanted to know how I can know. Well, of course, when anyone asks the epistemological question, we have to get them into the Bible. The evening ended with the guy weeping while we prayed for him and left him with the gospel of John. "Read this and pray, asking God to show Himself to you in this book." I never saw the man again. But I have often thought about trying that venue for evangelism again. I guess I am a coward because I have never tried it again--at least not yet.