04 April 2011

Open Doors

I'm posting the following letter with permission from Joe Mellon, a good friend and missionary who has been serving the Lord in France for many years. Joe does the work of an evangelist. Among the many things he does on the mission field, he actually shares the gospel with people, personally. For that reason, it is always encouraging to read his letters, because I am reminded that I, too, should be doing the work of an evangelist in the location God has placed me. And Joe's faithfulness and boldness encourages me to be the same.

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Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ......

Colossians 4:2-3

Dear Enoch & Merrilee; April 4, 2011

What does an open door look like? How do we know when it is opened? Do we need to push on the door or does it open automatically before us? Have you had any open doors recently? If the door is open and we don’t speak, is that sin?

Having lived in France for 25 years where the topics of God, Christ, Bible and such are treated with mild scorn and continued irrelevance, I constantly pray for God to open a door for me to explain the gospel to lost folks. At times, it is not always easy to determine if God has opened a door or not. But, when He does, it is a magnificent thing to observe and experience.

I have two stories to relate to you about open doors. You ought to be thrilled to read these; after all, this is what you sent us here to do. Read on.....

Open Door #1..... FINALLY!

As you are aware, I have been involved with the American football Club in Chambéry, first as a consultant, and more recently as the Head Coach. The personal goal of my involvement is to talk to the men about Christ, nothing more--nothing less. I also put an enormous amount of effort into coaching football. In this setting, waiting for the open door takes time and in this case, about 19 months. Let me be clear, when I say “talking to folks about Christ”, I don’t mean short conversations on the existence of God or why the catholic church is worthless. Those are frequent, easy and probably useless discussions. I’m talking about presenting the truths of Scripture centered on Jesus Christ with a gospel presentation including the consequences of unbelief.

On Saturday, march 23rd, we went south to Toulon for a Saturday evening game. The bus trip was about 4 ½ hours. About halfway thru I was absorbed in a book about the raid by the Israeli commandos on Entebbe in July 1976. That was the year that I got saved. The fellow sitting in the aisle next to me tapped me on the shoulder and said “Joe, can I ask you a question”. Of course, I responded. Greg continued, “What’s a Protestant”? (Did you just hear that door swing open?) That launched a half hour conversation with Greg, his girlfriend and Tony who was sitting in front of them. We covered everything, The truth of the Scripture, the person of Christ, evil in the world, the atoning work of Christ and the need to be converted or one goes to hell for eternity.

Then, all of a sudden, the door closed. I could hear it shut. That was it. Game Over. I just reveled in the joy of having seen God’s Hand at work on that doorknob. And I said, “Yes, the 19 months have been worth it”. Do you know how often that happens? But it did. We lost the game that night, 7-3.

Open Door #2.....Captive Audience

I led a camp in August 2010 for 10-14 year old French kids with the goal of teaching them some English. We had a week of simple English lessons, games, Bible stories and crafts. Each staff member had a Bible study group in the evening. I had the older boys cabin that consisted of 5 young men. Our Bible study consisted of me answering any questions they had. We did not lack for topics and I remember covering Creation/Evolution, Cults, Why do I have to go to church, do we have to put up with Arabs in heaven, etc. No matter where the discussion wandered for the evening, I always finished with an explanation of the New Birth and an urging for them to be right with God. One of the young men in my group was Benjamin Orset. Read on.........

On January 22, 2011, 14-year-old Benjamin Orset died after eating two contaminated hamburgers at a Quick Restaurant in Avignon, France. An autopsy report concluded that Benjamin died from food poisoning. Traces of staphylococci were detected in the boy’s body, as well as in five of the eight employees. Quick’s managing director, Jacques-Edouard Charret, has refused to accept responsibility for the death of the boy.

Was there an open door for the gospel? Yes. In fact, it was easier than the door for which I waited to be opened with a few of the football players. At the camp I had a captive audience, and they were wired with questions. Did Ben make a profession of faith at camp? Not to my knowledge. But he heard, that is for certain.

What if I had quit the Football Team because there was no interest? Or I was tired! What if I had not talked to the 5 boys constantly about their souls? Or better yet, I developed a gutless and hell-less theology that allows everyone to enter heaven by his or her own merit. Then I could be a super nice guy, coach football, run camps and watch people slowly slide into a Christ-less eternity. No urgency, no appeal for their eternal souls. No Thanks. I will stick with being the odd man out, holding to a message of forgiveness through the Savior alone.

Jesus said, "Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut....”

Revelation 3:8

Yeah, they were OPEN DOORS for certain. Let us not grow weary of praying for, anticipating and walking through OPEN DOORS with the Gospel message.

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will

dine with him, and he with Me”.

Jesus Christ

Pressing on in Chambéry.......

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