This morning my mom woke me up from a nightmare.
I won’t tell you what the nightmare was, but it certainly made me grateful that she had woken me up. The two of us headed out earlier than planned so we could spend some time together, considering we hadn’t really had the time to do so throughout the weekend.
The thing I love about moms is that they have the capability of being your best friend and your worst enemy in a matter of twenty-four hours, but you love them and they love you despite their title.
My train was running thirty minutes late. I was worrying about having to go to my dorm at seven-thirty at night. I decided I would just sleep the whole five and a half hours of the train ride home. Little did I know that I would be doing the exact opposite.
I sat next to a Jamaican woman in the front seat of one of the cars. The seats next to us were taken up by one very large man who was asleep when I boarded. For the first half hour of the ride, I tried to sleep as best I could, but I was just too uncomfortable. I was sad to be leaving home again already…sad that school was already tomorrow.
Finally I just kept my eyes open, listening to music, staring at the people who entered into the car through the vestibule. Eventually I felt God tugging at my thoughts.
“Hunter, you should talk about me with the woman sitting next to you.”
I glanced over at my seat mate: she was fast asleep.
“Lord, she looks exhausted.” When I glanced over again, she was wide awake.
Unbelievable. I thought.
“When are we arriving in New York?” She asked me.
“At 6:30 or so.” She sighed heavily, explaining that she had been on the train since last night. My heart ached for her; I couldn’t imagine being on a train all through the night. I asked her where she was coming from and this question started off a superficial conversation of comings and goings. I was given the opportunity to tell her why I was in New York. I told her that God had led me to attend Pratt for writing. She voiced her worry about my being spiritually strong enough for such a secular college. After a few more questions, it was safe to say that this woman was a sister in Christ.
She pulled out a red binder filled with notes from past bible studies. She showed me all of these patterns that weave in and out of the bible and how it all connects. We were able to exchange stories about God’s perfect timing and His promises and how awesome He is.
During our conversation, the man sitting across the isle had woken up and was eavesdropping. He interrupted our talk to ask what exactly we were talking about. We explained vaguely and he assumed his part in the conversation. Throughout his talking I picked up on a few facts that he may or may not have been aware of revealing: his name was Moses, he was Muslim, he had a thyroid problem (which accounted for his smell and obesity, two things beyond his control), he was married, and was going for his Ph.D in Public Health. He didn’t ask many questions, which left the door open for me to ask as many as I wanted. When he began speaking about being Muslim was when I really began asking questions. He began making claims of his beliefs and talking about the problems with the bible and how the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John were all different and contradicted each other (even though all of them are testimonies of the same events, including the crucifixion, the last supper, the deliverance of Christ into the hands of Pontius Pilate, etc), and that Jesus wasn’t actually the son of God but merely a prophet. He made this last claim based on the “knowledge” that “there is not enough biblical evidence to support his being the son of God or his resurrection.” I didn’t even know how to answer.
Moses claimed to have an extensive knowledge of both the Qu’ran and the Bible, yet he made claims like this without offering up examples. I pushed for him to back up his claims; when I did so, he changed the subject.
I have been reading Tactics by Gregory Koukl; it’s a book all about how to witness to people in a way that doesn’t necessarily convert them on the spot, but plants a seed so that another Christian can come about and sow it. What I’ve learned from this book so far is this: one should ask more questions in order to gather information before trying to prove anything or trying to plant the seed of thought.
There are times during these kinds of conversations where it is appropriate to ask questions and other times where it is appropriate to make a point based on the answers to your questions. I repeated back to him my interpretation of his claims and beliefs specifically concerning the gospels. He confirmed these. I then (drawing off of his given information of having an extensive biblical knowledge) brought up the points I mentioned before, such as the correlating events of the crucifixion, the betrayal. I even went as far as to mention that the geography and chronology is parallel between the four. I explained that the point of having four different testimonies is so that we can be sure these events transpired and also so we may see said events from different perspectives. The correlating events and occurrences between the Gospels further prove the deity of Christ and his death and resurrection. I asked him how he could have an extensive knowledge of the bible and claim that there is not enough biblical evidence to support the resurrection of Christ? The death and resurrection of Christ is the climax of the Bible; it’s the whole reason why Christians are Christians. Because of an empty tomb, holes in holy wrists, a torn veil, and a being that was one hundred percent man and one hundred percent God, we have hope; we have truth.
He grew somewhat weary of this so he moved on to argue Creation. He was trying to hard to fluster me rather than focus on explaining his perspective. He was claiming that evolution was part of God’s plan for man. Now, I’m not entirely educated on the science and faith aspects on evolution, but I do know that many leading scientists in today’s modern society as well as in past societies have stated that evolution is much like a fairytale. A well-known evolutionist, Sir Arthur Keith, stated that “evolution is unproved and unprovable. We believe it because the only alternative is special creation which is unthinkable.” Louis T. More , a 20th century physics professor at the University of Cincinnati and a vocal evolutionist, stated “the more one studies paleontology [the fossil record], the more certain one becomes that evolution is based on faith alone.”
Wow! We don’t even have to argue about it; respected evolutionists are coming right out and saying what they think of their own beliefs….and the statements are shocking! I brought these points up in my conversation with Moses and continued to ask him questions. At one point, he couldn’t give me an answer. He claimed that it was just too early for this sort of thing (even though he had begun the conversation and it was three in the afternoon). Needless to say, God was definitely there for me during this conversation; I’m not very good at applying the things I read or the things I learn, “but the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” John 14:26 (ESV).
When I stepped off the train, I wasn’t entirely sure how to feel about what had transpired. I almost felt as if I hadn’t even been in the conversation, but rather watching from the outside as God used me to make Moses think. I’m not entirely sure if he did think about any of it, but I know that God won.
Now, I’m back in the city, preparing to take on another week of college. This whole thing is difficult; I’m sure I don’t have to come right out and say that, but it is. However, I feel so much stronger in God and much more experienced as a Christian and much more confident in God’s word than I ever have before. It just a matter of remembering who I am, why I’m here, and who God is.
Verses exposing parallels between the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John)
Crucifixion: Matthew 27:32-44, Mark 15:21-32, Luke 23:26-43, John 19:16-27
The Resurrection: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21
Jesus Before Pilate: Matthew 27:1-14, Mark 15:1-15, Luke 23:1-25, John 18:28-40, 19:1-16
The Last Supper: Matthew 26:17-29, Mark 14:12-25, Luke 22:7-23, John 13:1-30
(these are only some parallels, not all)
Kennedy, James. Why I Believe. Waco: Word Books Inc., 1980. Print.
Keith, Arthur, forward to 100th anniversary edition of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, 1959
Louis T. More, The Dogma of Evolution (Princeton: University Press, 1925), p. 160.
Jackson, Wayne. “Ellen Goodman and Those Creationists.” (2013): n. page. Web. 29 Sep. 2013. <https://www.christiancourier.com/articles/102-ellen-goodman-and-those-creationists>.