I thought it would be fun to dedicate this page entirely to stories of evangelism and how God has used people to reach other people with the Gospel. While some of these stories are direct encounters I have experienced, many of them will come from those I am around. I guess I could use the hashtag #CircuitRiderEvangelism.
Felipe the Gangster
November 13-15, 2014, Circuit Riders held an event called The Tent LA in downtown Los Angeles. The event drew hundreds of members from the nearby communities as well as University of Southern California students. The event was very evangelistic in nature as we held worship sets and calls to accept the Lord each of the three days we were there.
The first night we were there, which was a Thursday, we encountered a middle-aged hispanic man named Felipe who was drinking and was completely intoxicated. Talking with Felipe didn’t amount to much due to his lack of sobriety. However, in chatting, I learned that he was a former military guy who now sells drugs and essentially “runs the streets” in the area where we were holding our event. Felipe goes on to show me a scar from a bullet wound in his left pectoral muscle and also claimed to have killed 24 people in his lifetime. Highly skeptical, I chatted with Felipe for probably half an hour and then moved on. Yet throughout the night, men from our Circuit Rider group continued to talk with him and show him love.
Friday rolled around and the story was practically the same. Felipe returned to our event less than sober and members of our group continued to speak with him. We learned from other guys hanging around the park that Felipe actually was who he claimed and was kind of the gangster boss for that area of LA.
Saturday night during one of the worship sets, I turned around during worship and noted four or five of our guys praying for Felipe. I learned later that, while they were praying for him, Felipe started manifesting a demon. Our guys quickly rebuked it and commanded it to leave peacefully. It did. The guys continued to pray over Felipe in tongues and to love on him.
As Saturday evening continued, a couple of our guys actually went with Felipe to a nearby house to meet a gang member named Ghost. Ghost appeared to be in his mid-50’s and had been in gangs since he was 10-years-old. The reason Felipe introduced them to Ghost was because Ghost was injured to the point that he could only walk slowly with a cane. Our guys prayed for Ghost for healing and then left.
Finally, Sunday morning came and we were cleaning up from the previous three days. Felipe again appeared at the park and surprisingly notified us he was going to check into rehab. We asked why. He said that when the guys were praying for him and making weird noises (which we know to be speaking in tongues), that someone told him to check into rehab. However, none of the men in our group had mentioned anything like that to him. Either God spoke to him directly or Felipe was graciously given the interpretation of one of the tongues and was told to check into rehab! What a miracle!
Felipe also informed us that he had seen his buddy Ghost outside jogging that morning! The night before Ghost couldn’t walk without a cane.
Although we were unable to determine if Felipe or Ghost gave their lives to Jesus, they were undeniably changed by love. Felipe looked like a different man Sunday morning than when we saw him Thursday night and he just kept coming back for more. His desire to check into rehab showed that he was tired of his lifestyle and was ready for something new. If you read this, lift up a quick prayer for him as only Jesus can make his life new.
High School Students at USC
Almost every Thursday, we spend 3:00 – 5:00 PM at the University of Southern California campus reaching out to students. We usually have some form of discussion with quite a few students within this time frame. One of these days when I was with my buddy, Chip, we started talking with a group of three guys who were actually high school students. As we walked with them to the library, Chip and I asked them if they were Christians. Two of the students responded by pointing to the third guy (sorry for my failure to remember their names) and stating that he was a Christian. After chatting briefly with the third guy about his relationship with Christ, we brought the discussion back to the other two guys.
Both of the guys stated they had some experience attending church when they were younger, but it didn’t mean much to them and they didn’t know Jesus. Chip and I told them that Jesus loves them so much that he is willing to encounter them right then and there. To demonstrate that God loved them, we asked if they had any pain in their bodies. They didn’t. When asked if there was anything going on in their lives they could use prayer for, they both mentioned that were undergoing a lot of stress as they prepared for college and took tests.
I asked the two guys if it would be pretty incredible if we prayed for them and they suddenly felt peace come over them even in the midst of their stress. They said that would be pretty cool. I then asked if there was anything else we could pray for that would be even more amazing than that happening. They both again stated that an experience of peace in the midst of their circumstances would be pretty incredible. So, we prayed for them and asked Jesus to come and let his peace cover them. We did not lay hands on them because we believed God would touch them and we didn’t want them to think that somehow it was us.
After praying, Chip and I turned to them and asked them if they felt anything. The first guy said, “Surprisingly, yes. While you were praying, I felt peace come over me.” The second guy said he had the exact same experience. We told the two students that what they felt was Jesus and that he loves them so much that he was willing to encounter them in a way they could tangibly feel. We told them that whenever they need Jesus, he is always with them and all they have to do is cry out to him.
Although the next logical step would be to lead them through the sinner’s prayer, we both felt that Jesus was finished using us and so we left. We know that Jesus encountered these two high school students and they will never forget it. Chip and I both believe these two students gave their lives to Christ. Since they were high school students who were only at USC for that day, we didn’t have much of a way to follow up with them. Please pray that they would both continue to seek Christ and that God would surround them with believers to encourage and disciple them.
The thing I took away most from this experience was that we can put God on the spot and he can hold his own. I don’t have to be afraid that God won’t show up. Instead, when I call on his name and ask that he does something, he says “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13). When you feel lead by the Spirit, proclaim Jesus’ character boldly, knowing that he will always come through!