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Originally published in Creation 15, no 4 (September 1993).
We need to be aware of where people are at today, and like the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill, be prepared to adapt our approach.
The rough-looking Australian standing next to a smaller Fijian man looked as if he had ‘been around’. Tattoos, a black T-shirt with something rude written across the front, and the outline of a cigarette packet bulging under the sleeve completed the picture.
This was in a tough part of Sydney, Australia. A group of us from our church were doing evangelistic street-singing and story-telling when these two came up and watched us for a while. In the end, I walked over, introduced myself and asked them to join us. The young Australian said something like ‘No mate, what you believe is garbage.’ I said ‘O, yeah—why would you believe that?’ He said it was because evolution had proved it wrong.
Each time, he was rebuffed by the argument that evolution had proved it wrong.While we were talking, one of the members of my church, who didn’t think the creation/evolution issue was important and had some vaguely theistic evolutionary beliefs, came up and kept trying to witness to these two about the Gospel. Each time, he was rebuffed by the argument that evolution had proved it wrong. He kept trying to use standard approaches about the Gospel, instead of answering the issue of evolution. Eventually one of the two simply told him to shut up and that would normally have been that.
Having been involved in creation science ministry for some time, I cut in and asked why they believed evolution had proved the Bible wrong. The tattooed man said it was because of all the fossil forms in between one kind of animal and another. He was quite startled when I was able to tell him of the opinions of expert evolutionists that the intermediate fossil types, required to show evolution, didn’t exist. After a while, his ideas that science had proved the Bible wrong were obviously crumbling. So when I invited them to our church service that night they came.
After the message, the pastor made a call for those who wanted to commit their life to the Lord Jesus to come forward. The Fijian jumped out of his seat and literally raced to the front. His Australian friend, clearly greatly moved, stood up and sat down a few times, but he didn’t make it to the front that night. They were due to return to Fiji shortly after, but it was clear that my answering their evolutionary objection had been used by the Holy Spirit to break through their mindset, to get them to this point.
I have often seen this sort of thing. Have you heard of the man who wanted to have a rabbit for supper? Using a technique that had always worked for him before, he sat outside the entrance to the rabbit’s warren with a gun. After days of frustrated waiting, he was asked by a passer-by what he was doing. When he explained, he was told ‘But the rabbit doesn’t live there anymore.’
Isn’t this like much of our present-day evangelism and witnessing? We use methods and approaches that used to work years ago, before evolutionary teaching so conditioned a generation that ‘the rabbit doesn’t live there anymore’.
We need to be aware of where people are at today, and like the Apostle Paul at Mars Hill, be prepared to adapt our approach, and be ‘always ready to give an answer’ (1 Peter 3:15). It’s exciting to know there are so many answers available today to the lie of evolution.