Persistence means sticking with something. Not giving up. Last week in the Holy Land, I had an experience with a guy who didn’t give up easily and the Lord use that to teach me a lesson in evangelism.
Last week, Holli and I spent a week with a group touring the Holy Land. One day, our group was taken to a store that had beautiful wood-working pieces based on Biblical scenes. For instance, there was one of Jesus and the last supper. There was another of Jesus blessing the children, etc.. I spent several minutes looking around but then, I was going to get on the bus to wait on the others in the group.
As I walked out of the store, there were a couple of Palestinian men standing there. One man was selling scarves. He immediately approached me and asked me to purchase a scarf. We had been told by our guides that we should just ignore these guys and keep walking. I tried that. But the scarf salesman blocked my path. I said, “Buddy, I know they are pretty, but I don’t need one.” (I’m not sure he understood what “buddy” meant but….)
Well, the scarf salesman didn’t back away. He then took my hand and basically forced me to feel the scarf. I did… but again I said, “I don’t need one.” That didn’t stop him.
He then, took the scarf off the ring it was on and was going to demonstrate how the scarf could be wrapped around your head. I told him I understood that and I was sure they were beautiful but, in my neck of the woods, you didn’t see many men wearing scarves. That STILL didn’t do it..
The man then, puts his cigarette down and STRONGLY encourages me that this scarf is just the thing I need. Again I said, “I’m not buying one.” I was trying to get to the bus but I couldn’t. So, I did the only thing I knew to do.. I went back in the store.
As I stood in the store I thought, ‘How am I going to get past this guy?” Then, I thought, “I walk between some people when they left the store so maybe I could squeeze by the scarf-salesman onto the bus.” And, I thought, “maybe I could wear a disguise or something and slip by him.” So, I began explaining my dilemma to a few people in our group and lo and behold… the door of the store opens and the scarf-salesman is looking straight at me! I thought, “I’m going to have to have a blocking back to get by this guy!”
I walked out with some others and did get by him and got on the bus. As I shared this story with others, we all had a good laugh. One guy even wished this whole scene could have been caught on candid camera.
As I thought about my experience with the scarf salesman, I had to admit.. the guy was persistent. He did not intend for me to get away without purchasing a scarf. I thought how I needed to be as persistent as the scarf-salesman in witnessing to unbelievers.
This Palestinian man was determined to sell me a scarf. He did not intend to take “No” for an answer. Then I thought that I needed the same persistence in sharing the gospel with non-believers. I am not nearly as determined in sharing the gospel with unbelievers as this scarf-salesman was in trying to get me to purchase a scarf.
This incident was funny… but it also teaches us a lesson in evangelism. We need to know that people urgently need Christ. We need to be more faithful in sharing the gospel.