“If this world is going to be reached, I am convinced that it must be done by men… of average talent.” D.L. Moody
Dwight Lyman Moody is a name that most people would not recognize, yet in the late 1800’s, he was one of the most well-known men in all the world. Often he spoke to audiences of 10,000 to 20,000 people. He presented God’s offer of salvation by his voice or pen to at least one hundred million people.
Moody was unconventional in the way he attracted people to hear the gospel message. He drew the children of the German and Scandinavian immigrant underclass to his mission with candy and pony rides, and he drew the adults through evening prayer meetings and English classes. He was convinced,
“If you can really make a man believe you love him, you have won him.”
Chantha and I hit the streets of Phnom Penh. I am a graduate of Moody Bible Institute and Chantha is a student there. We used some of D.L. Moody’s unconventional tactics to share the Gospel.
Our day did not turn out the way we had planned. The plan was to have a day off, a recreation day. Plan A: Three of us, Chantha, me and one other guy would meet up for breakfast and then head over to the Mall for some bowling competition. I am the bowling champ among these youngsters and I needed to retain my title. At the last minute, the other guy came down with an extreme migraine. I told him to stay home and rest and we would bowl another day. The three men turned into two.
Plan B: We did not have a plan. Chantha showed up at my hotel at 8 AM. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast although we had to swat mosquitoes biting our ankles. After breakfast we discussed several Bible studies for Chantha to lead on Saturday mornings. He will take the Hope Now Cambodia guys through the life of Abraham. Understanding Abraham and God’s promises to him will help guys understand the New Testament better. We had a good planning session and Chantha is excited about a new study.
Now what do we do? Since our number three guy was out, bowling was out too. “Let’s go down to the riverfront and just walk around” I said. We thought we would let God lead us. Our driver dropped us off in front of the royal palace.
As we walked along the street, drivers, beggars and vendors were calling out to us to buy their goods, give them alms, or to drive us around the city. One Tuk-tuk driver called out “Tuk-tuk? You go shoot? Bang bang?”
There is a shooting range in Phnom Penh where big guns, like rocket launchers can be fired, seriously! Small arms can be fired too, but the draw for tourists is to shoot the big guns. Rumor has it you get to blow up a cow! Every driver we passed by wanted to take us there. We rounded the corner, and another driver asked the same question, but this time we engaged him in conversation and our unplanned walk took on a new purpose.
I turned to the Tuk-tuk driver and put my hand on his shoulder and said, “I am from California in the United States. In the U.S.A. I can own a gun, I have a permit to carry one. So I do not need to go to the shooting range, I can do that at home (although I admit, I cannot blow up a cow), and besides, I have been to Cambodia eight times. If I wanted to go, I would have gone many years ago.” We bantered back and forth about the shooting range and guns in a friendly, jovial tone. We were laughing and enjoying the gun conversation.
Earlier in the week, I observed a shop owner throwing pieces of wrapped candy into the street. I thought that was odd. Why was she doing that? It was not only one shop owner, I saw several do it. I asked Chantha why they threw candy in the street; he did not know the reason.
As we talked to the Tuk-tuk driver about guns, at his feet were pieces of wrapped candy and incense sticks stuck in the ground next to the candy. Chantha remembered our conversation about the candy and asked the driver, “Why do you throw this candy in the street?” He responded it was a way to bring the store owner, or in his case, the driver good luck. “Does it work?” I asked him. “Does the candy bring you good luck?” He shifted back and forth, thought for a moment and said, “Everyday is the same, even if we do not throw the candy in the street.”
It was then I took a page out of D.L. Moody’s playbook, he used candy to draw kids to the gospel, I used dollars. I reached in my wallet and pulled out two dollars and said, “Jesus Christ has brought you good luck today, here is money for you in the name of Jesus Christ!” I know Jesus does not bring luck, but I was using terminology in which he could relate. He looked surprised by the money. I told him we are Christians and have good news for him.
Chantha shared the Gospel in Khmer. He told him, “You cannot reach God or gain luck by doing things. Good works will not help you for your eternal life. Jesus Christ is the only way. You must believe in Jesus and just as you received this money, receive His free gift. Jesus will save you. That is the message we wanted to share with you today.”
The young man was happy to hear this message and he and Chantha exchanged telephone numbers. We may follow up with him before I leave for home. Chantha asked him his name, “Chanthea” he said. “That’s like my name” Chantha said, “It will be easy to remember.” Please pray for him.
In the New Testament, the apostles received a beating from the Jewish council for preaching the gospel. Upon their release Acts 5:41 says,
“They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.”
Chantha and I did not receive a beating, and we did not suffer, but we could relate to the “rejoicing” part. I imagine the apostles walking away saying to each other, “Can you believe what just happened? That was awesome! We got to suffer for Jesus Christ!”
We had much of the same sentiment as we walked away, Chantha said, “I shared the gospel with him!” We were both excited. It began with a conversation about guns and cows. Now we are praying for his soul.
We crossed the street, and another driver said, “Shooting range?” Here we go again! Now we knew what to do. I gave him my same spiel, and said, “I want to bless you, here is a gift in the name of Jesus Christ.” Then Chantha shared the gospel in Khmer with this young man, and he listened attentively. He was interested in what Chantha was telling him. Chantha exchanged phone numbers with him too.
We left that exchange rejoicing again that we shared the truth of Jesus Christ and everlasting life with these men today. We thought we were going to be in a bowling alley, but due to a migraine, God had other plans. It was as if God said, “Bowling? I did not send you here to bowl.” I am not suggesting that God gave our friend a migraine, or that bowling is wrong, but God used the circumstances as an opportunity to direct us on a different path from what we thought our day would be like.
The plot thickens…
THE NEXT DAY:
Chantha and I met for breakfast this morning and worked our way through Genesis, chapters 13 and 14. After we finished, I wanted to buy some Khmer language Gospel of John booklets. I looked online and found a place in Phnom Penh that sold them; The Cambodia Bible Society. We decided to find their building.
We gave the address to our Tuk-tuk driver and after maneuvering through massive traffic jams we arrived in about 45 minutes. The little shop, located on a bumpy dirt road, was very nice and had lots of Khmer/English Gospel of John books, and other tracts and Bibles. We bought several books. Finding these books made the drive well worth it.
Our purchase in hand, we headed back to the riverfront. What did God have in store for us today? We were about to be surprised!
I told Chantha, “Let’s take the same route as yesterday. Let’s do the exact same thing.” We prayed and began walking. The street where I used to stay when I came to Phnom Penh was up ahead, so we walked along to see if Virak, my old friend and Tuk-tuk driver was there (See Virak’s story by clicking here). He was there, and we greeted each other warmly. I gave him a Christian tract, then Chantha and I went on our way.
As we rounded the corner, we came upon Chanthea, the young driver we met yesterday. He was sitting in his Tuk-tuk with another driver, Sina, waiting for customers. Chanthea was happy to see us and Sina was personable.
Sina, began to ask us questions about Jesus and God, which we answered. After ten minutes of questions and answers, Sina moved over and sat next to Chanthea and asked if we wanted to sit in the Tuk-tuk with them and talk more. We did.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out two Gospel of John books and handed them to each young man. They received them with gladness. As we answered more questions, I showed them various verses where Jesus said, “Believe in me and you will have everlasting life.”
Moments before, Sina asked, “Are you guys trying to make us believe?” Chantha replied, “We want you to believe, but we are not trying to do anything except tell you the truth about everlasting life through Jesus Christ. Whether you believe is up to you.”
I showed them John 3:16, John 6:47, John 14:6 and each time we turned to a verse I pointed to it and said to Sina, “Read it out loud.” As he read, Chanthea listened and was quiet. I thought, “Sina is interested in the gospel, I am not so sure about Chanthea.” (Later, Chantha told me he was thinking the same thing.) After Sina read John 14:6, I turned to one more verse, John 20:31, where the apostle John states the reason he wrote this book. It says,
“This gospel is written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
Before Sina could read it, his phone rang and he answered it. We sat there waiting for him to finish the call. He got up out of the Tuk-tuk and continued his conversation outside, standing on the sidewalk. We waited a little longer and I began to think, this is a ploy of the enemy to distract us. I said to Chanthea, “Why don’t you read this verse—read it out loud.” He read it clearly in his native Khmer language. When he finished I said, “That is what this book is about, Jesus is God and he offers you everlasting life–he will give it to you if you believe.”
I could tell something was different after he read the verse out loud, his demeanor changed. He said to Chantha, “No one has ever shared this good news about Jesus with me before. I want to believe in Jesus.” Chantha and I sort of gulped; we had not asked him if he wanted to believe. We had not coerced him or led him to say that. We did not manipulate the situation. We did not say, “Repeat this prayer after me.” or “Say these words.” He just read the verse of Scripture for himself and believed! That is the Holy Spirit at work.
“Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” Romans 10:17
Chantha prayed for him in Khmer and Chanthea had a look of happiness on his face when the prayer was finished. I told him,
“You now have everlasting life, Chanthea. Your sins are forgiven.”
As Chantha was praying, Sina came back into the Tuk-tuk and observed. He did not say he believed, but perhaps his friend Chanthea will lead him to the Lord?
I gave them each $3.00 because we had taken up their time. They could have been earning money driving. We said our goodbyes, and encouraged them to read the gospel of John and call Chantha if they have questions. Chantha and I went away rejoicing for a second day! After we had walked down the street, we stopped and prayed, thanking God for allowing us to share the good news with someone who was hearing it for the first time; with someone who was ready to believe.
We walked over to the marketplace, each of us still in shock (The good kind. The goose-bump kind of shock) over what had just occurred. I found a hat that summed up our day. The apostles rejoiced in Acts and my hat had essentially that message embroidered on the front in Khmer lettering. It reads, “Happy”.
We are two average men doing what Jesus has commissioned us to do,
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel.” Mark 16:15
I am happy He used us.