Bridging the Gap – part 4

“What’s with those girls?”

Our student ministry building was just across the street from the Dental School of one of the largest universities in the world, and their volleyball team needed a place to practice.  We had a basketball/volleyball court behind our building, so when the coach asked if they could practice on our court, my answer was “yes, of course.”

What follows, as you can see, did not happen in an ESL or TESOL ministry, but it does illustrate how to take any circumstance and use it to open a door for sharing the gospel.

I often watched their practices and soon became intrigued by the fact that one of their best players on the team was a very short guy.  After one of their practices, I introduced myself to that player and he told me his name was Iván[1].   One afternoon when the team was practicing one of the men in our Bible study group from our church came by to see me and noticed Iván playing volleyball on our court.  His comment to me was, “What in the world is Iván doing here?  He lives in the apartment just below ours.  He and his brothers are wild, and I mean really wild party animals!  They have wild drunken sex parties all the time!”  I asked him if he had ever tried to share the gospel with them.  “Share the gospel with them?  Not on your life!  They are troublemakers!”

When the university’s intermural volleyball competition began, I started attending some of their games, thinking I might find a way to witness to some of the players.  After one of the games, I walked onto the court and struck up a conversation with Iván.  I asked him how was it that he, a very short player, was one of the best on the team.  He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know . . . perhaps his enthusiasm and commitment to the game.  We talked a little about what chance he thought the team had in the league with other schools on the campus.

I finally asked him what he liked to do in his free time, besides volleyball.  Iván brightened and said that he and his two brothers had a music group and they loved playing music.  When I asked him what kind of music they liked most, he said Andean music, which was a little surprising because that style of music is not well known in that country.

I think Iván was a little surprised, but also excited, by my next comment.  I told him that from time to time we have groups of American students come to our student center for a week to help us, and if they would be open to it, I would like to invite them to come play the next time a group came down (which was only a little over a month away).

That group of American students were coming to help us do evangelism on campus and in our student center.  There was only one problem.  Just before that group arrived, the university students went on strike and there was nothing for the American students to do because the university was completely closed.  However, I decided we would have a party at our house and invite Iván and his brothers to provide music.

When the Fernandez [1] brothers showed up at our house that Friday night for the party they were about half drunk, and spent most of the night, when not playing their music, flirting with, and trying to touch or hug the girls.  Fortunately for us, the girls in the group were spiritually mature enough to know how to turn the boys away without making them feel rejected. 

The following Monday, all three of the Fernandez brothers showed up at my office.  The American students had already returned to the U.S., but the brothers wanted to talk with me.  They apologized over and over again for showing up half drunk, and I assured them that it was not a problem.  To my surprise, they said they had a question about the girls.  “In all our years and experience with girls, NO girl has ever turned down our advances! Not once!  What was going on with those girls?”

I smiled and told them, “Let me explain something to you guys.  Jesus Christ has transformed the lives of those girls and they now have a very different concept of sex.  They have decided to save the beauty of their sexual experience for the special man God has for each of them in the future.  They want to bring honor to God with their sex life.”  That completely blew the mind of those three young men and they began peppering me with all kinds of questions and just could not wrap their minds around that whole concept.

I asked them if they would be interested in studying the Bible with me to help them understand what made those girls so different.  They were somewhat non-committal, and it took us several months to get them to agree to study the Bible with us, but when they did accept, they asked if we would be willing to drive down each week to a small town south of the university to do the studies there, so their mother could also join the study.

Once a week for the next three or four months we met them at their mother’s house to study the Bible. We went through four studies based on the Gospel of John and another four studies called “Encounters with Jesus,” mostly based on Luke’s Gospel.  The mother was the first to accept Christ, but the three brothers eventually gave their lives to Christ.  They later lead their divorced father and his new wife to Christ.

[1] Names have been changed to protect these individuals’ privacy.

This article is 4 of 5 in a series.

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