Sunday, October 9, 2011

From The Archives: 'The Quittance of Quisha'

Not long ago I realized I was collecting blogs like baseball cards. I had way too many. So, I decided to close several of my blogs and write exclusively, here, "On the Box." From time to time, I will dig an article or story out of the archives of my other blogs and post it, here.

To get things started, here's the story of a witnessing encounter on the campus of Cerritos College, on January 25, 2008.

Allow me to testify about my Lord.

I spent some time at Cerritos College, today. The campus of this community college is quickly becoming one of my favorite fishing ponds.

The Lord blessed me with a new fishing buddy for today's fishing trip. Heather is one of our customer service representatives at Living Waters. She shared with me earlier this week that she is relatively new to biblical evangelism and has been working up the courage to initiate her first spiritual conversation with a stranger. I offered to help.

As we turned down the street of one of the college's several parking lots, I immediately noticed something different from previous trips to the school. There were very few cars in the parking lot. Then it dawned on me. Most community colleges have very few classes on Fridays. We decided to give it a shot anyways. The smaller campus population might be a little more comfortable for Heather, on her first fishing trip.

We made our way from the car to the center of the campus. As we rounded the corner of a building I noticed a young African American lady standing off in the distance. She didn't appear to be in a hurry to get anywhere. She looked lost in her thoughts.

"Heather, let's pray. And then we're going to talk to her." I said, pointing to the young lady.

After we prayed, we walked over to the young lady. I handed her a Billion Dollar Bill gospel tract, which she accepted with a wary look on her face.

"My name's Tony, and this is my friend, Heather. What's your name?"

"Quisha."

"Quisha, this may sound silly; but what if that was a real billion dollar bill and I told you I would give you a billion dollars for your right eye. Heather and I are medical researchers and we're looking for healthy eyes for research. Your eyes look very healthy. We'll give you a billion dollars for one of your eyes. We'll also replace your eye with a glass eye that looks just like the one we removed. You just won't be able to see out of it. Would you do it?"

"No."

"Okay. What if I offered you five billion dollars for both of your eyes. You would be blind as a bat, but you would be rich beyond your wildest dreams. Would you give me both of your eyes?"

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because without my eyes I wouldn't be able to see my one-year-old son."

"So, your eyes are precious to you?"

"Yes."

'Then let me ask you this. It's said that the eyes are the window to the soul. If your eyes are precious to you, shouldn't your soul that looks out of the windows of your eyes be even more precious to you?"

"I guess so."

"Quisha, what do you think happens to someone when they die?"

"I hope they go to heaven."

"And what do you think a person must do to go to heaven?"

"Do good." She said with some uncertainty in her voice.

"Are you a good person, Quisha?"

"Yes. I think so. I try to be."

Quisha answered the question with very little confidence in her voice.

"May I ask you a few questions to see if you are, in fact, a good person?"

"Okay." A curious smile appeared on her face.

I took Qhisha through several of the Ten Commandments. She admitted to being a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart.

"Qhisha, does that sound like the definition of a good person?"

She shook her head.

"Think of it this way. Let's say that after meeting me and Heather, you invite us to your home for dinner. When we walk in the door, your family asks you who we are. And you introduce me this way. 'This is Tony. He's a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. But other than that, he's a pretty good guy.' Would your family think I'm a good person?"

"No."

"That's right. In fact, they would probably ask you why you brought someone like me to your house."

Quisha smiled and nodded her head.

"So, if you were to die and stand before God, based on what you admitted about yourself, do you think He would find you innocent or guilty of breaking His Law?"

"I guess I would be guilty."

"You guess?"

"I would be guilty."

"And if God were to find you guilty, would you go to heaven or hell?"

"Heaven?"

"I'm sure that's where you would like to go. But what should God do with you?"

"Send me to hell. But I would ask for forgiveness."

"Quisha, let's say you were in Wal-Mart one day with your little son. You're a good mom. Very careful and attentive. But, for whatever reason, you turn away your attention for just a moment. And during that brief moment, someone kidnaps your child."

I could tell that Quisha's pulse was quickening by the widening of her eyes and the obvious indicators of heavier breathing.

"The man who kidnapped your son is caught before he could harm him. Your son is okay."

I said that to try to help her calm down so she could focus on what I was saying.

"The case goes to trial. He is found guilty by the jury. It's the day of sentencing. You, your family, and your friends are in the courtroom. The man who kidnapped your precious son is standing before the judge awaiting his sentence. The man looks at the judge and says, 'Your honor, I am sorry that I kidnapped that little boy. I know it was wrong. So, since I said I was sorry, I think you should let me go.'

"The judge looks at the man for a moment and smiles. 'Well, since you're sorry, you're free to go.'

"Quisha, what would you and your family expect from the judge?"

"Justice."

"That's right. A good judge will not let a guilty criminal go, just because the criminal apologizes and asks to be let go. A good judge will punish lawbreakers, right?"

"Yes."

"Well, God's standard is much higher than any human court. God's standard is protection. And being good, God must punish sin. He cannot let us go simply on the basis of us asking to be let go. Does that make sense?"

"Yes it does."

"So, does it concern you that if God finds you guilty of breaking His Law that He will send you to hell as the just punishment for your sins against Him?"

"Yes it does."

"Do you know what God did to make a way for you not to spend eternity in hell?"

"Jesus died on the cross."

"That's right. But you know what, Quisha? Many people believe what you just said. And like you, when I ask that question, most people give the same answer with about as much conviction and passion as when they order a double-double from In-n-Out Burger.

I took Quisha back to the courtroom, sharing with her the analogy of someone coming into the courtroom to pay her fine.

"The judge turns to you and tells you that you are free to go--not on the basis of anything you did; not on the basis of your goodness; but on the basis of someone else paying your fine. Would that be good news?"

"Yes."

"What would you think of the stranger who came into the courtroom to pay your fine?"

"I would love that person and want to follow him the rest of my life."

"Interesting that you would answer that way; because that's exactly what God did."

I don't know if Quisha blinked or moved a muscle as I shared the gospel of God's amazing grace with her.

"God sent His Son to earth in the person of Jesus Christ. He was fully God and fully Man. He lived a sinless, perfect life. He died a horrible bloody death on the cross in order to take upon Himself the punishment you deserve for breaking God's Law. Three days later He rose from the dead and forever defeated death.

"But it's not enough to simply believe the truths about Jesus in your head. You must believe in your heart, to the point that you want to repent. That means to turn away from your sins. You must repent and put your trust in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation. There is nothing you can do to save yourself. None of us are good, according to God's standard. You cannot earn or deserve heaven.

"If you turn from your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, when you die and stand before Him, instead of receiving what you deserve for breaking His Law, which is eternity in hell; you will receive what you don't deserve, which is grace and mercy and the free gift of everlasting life with Him. Does that make sense?"

"Yes."

"Quisha, there's one statistic that no one can avoid. Ten out of ten people die."

"I know. Four people who were close to me have died recently."

"Then you know from experience that what I'm telling you is true. And the time to get right with God is not when you are standing before Him as a guilty criminal waiting to be judged. It will be too late, then. The Bible says that today is the day of salvation.

"Quisha, do you believe that what I am telling you is true?"

"Yes."

"Is there any reason why you wouldn't, right now, turn from your sin and receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior."

Tears immediately began to stream down Quisha's cheeks.

"Why the tears? Are you thinking about the people close to you who have died, or are you thinking about yourself?"

"Both. But more about me."

"Is there anything keeping you from repenting of your sin and receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?"

"No."

"Would you like to receive forgiveness for your sins and the free gift of eternal life?"

"Yes."

I motioned toward a nearby bench and asked Quisha if the three of us could sit down. She agreed.

I spent a little more time reaffirming the gospel. I wanted to make sure Quisha understood everything I shared with her. It was clear to me that she did. I also wanted to make sure, to the extent that I am able in my fallibility, that what I was seeing was not simply emotion, but the Holy Spirit working on the heart of this young woman. I believe it was the latter.

I encouraged Quisha to cry out to God, ask Him for His forgiveness, and ask Him to be her Lord and Savior. The three of us bowed our head.

Seemingly in an instant, Quisha was undone. She wept so bitterly that her words were almost unintelligible. But Heather and I understood enough of what Quisha was praying that we, too, were soon in tears.

Quisha cried out to God in a way that I have not often seen. She cried out to Him for forgiveness of her sin. She begged Him to save her. She begged Him to help her be a good mother to her baby boy. She prayed and she prayed--her sobs intensifying with each sentence.

After what seemed like several minutes, Quisha grew quiet. And then I prayed for her.

Heather and I spent another half-hour or so encouraging and counseling her. I explained to her that if she was born again (I never declare anyone saved), she would begin to bear fruit.

"Quisha, if God has truly saved you, then you will begin to love the things that God loves, and you will begin to hate the things that God hates. You will continue to sin; but when you do sin you will run to God for forgiveness--just as a loving little girl runs to her loving father. You will want to spend time with Him in prayer. You will want to read and understand His Word. You will want to fellowship with other genuine followers of Christ. You will want to grow in your faith and in your love for and obedience to Him.

"Some of the changes in your life will be instantaneous. And yet others will take time."

I spent a few minutes sharing parts of my own testimony with Quisha to explain the sometimes instant and sometimes gradual process of sanctification.

Heather gave Quisha her phone number. She wrote it on the back of a billion dollar bill. We both encouraged Quisha to call if she had any questions, needed encouragement, or wanted help finding a good, Bible-believing, Bible-teaching church.

Heather and I said good-bye to Quisha. We walked around the campus for several minutes. At first, few words were exchanged. We were both in awe of what we had just seen God do.

I am not the least bit hesitant to say that I believe Heather and I saw a miracle. We saw the quittance of Quisha. The dictionary defines a quittance as the "release from a debt, obligation, or penalty." And that's exactly what we saw. We saw a young woman who, to us, was a stranger just an hour before her outcry of repentance and faith released from the debt, obligation, and penalty of sin. God, in His sovereign grace and mercy, allowed us to watch Him move upon the heart of Quisha and, we believe, usher her from darkness into light--from death into life.

The quittance of Quisha was beautiful. Pray for her as she grows in her new-found faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.