Last night we hosted John Dickson in the store. We set up chairs for 45 people but they filled up fast. We put out our reserve chairs and those filled just as fast. Minutes before we started we were pulling chairs from every office we could find. Last count before we started—80! At the end of the presentation we gave out just over 100 books! So attendance exceeded our biggest expectations.
John spoke about an hour and was an absolute delight to listen to. He started by briefly describing the difference between Australia and the US. Australia is much more secular than the US. As a matter of fact the first church built in Australia was “mysteriously” burnt down. The first schools were started by churches and then the government took over but with the agreement that there would be “Scripture Lessons” for one hour a day. This was part of early Australian law which has gradually been done away with. But when John was a boy he was in a state which still had Scripture Lessons. The lady who taught his class, Glenda, also opened her home and served hamburgers, shakes and scones. John realized what she was doing when he realized he was too full to move from the sofa. Glenda had a captive audience. But her efforts were blessed by God as a number of those students not only became Christian but three of them are now in full time ministry. John highlighted a few of the points from his book and was passionate in his delivery. One of those points was on the importance of prayer. John told how when he went back and asked Glenda what her “secret” was. She answered without hesitation—“prayer.” In prayer, he says, “we lift the work of the gospel above mere circumstances and into the hands of the One who governs everything.” In the Q and A session someone asked about the quote from Francis of Assisi who said “Preach the gospel. Use words if necessary.” John said he was uneasy with the expression because we can’t eliminate the need for the message of the gospel. Too often people use that as an excuse to get out of having to verbally present the gospel. But we should always be ready to talk about our Lord Jesus. Not in a forced or contrived way but in the same way you would talk about your spouse or children. It’s natural to talk about them because you love them so much. Our attitude should be the same about Jesus.
The evening could not have been better. Thanks to all who came out. You are wonderful. Thank you John for challenging us with a bigger vision of what evangelism is. And finally, many thanks to the kind folks at Zondervan for sharing John with us and providing the books for those who attended the event.
Here's a few photos from the night: