Being a disciple of Jesus means different things in different denominations. For Methodists it’s performing good works and regular church attendance. For Pentecostals its having a special prayer language and a gold-leafed baby grand. For Presbyterians it is possessing a large library, a iPhone with a ESV Bible app and a micro brewery. For the Baptist students at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University it is having a burden for the lost. That’s why every Spring Break they send a busload of smiling, clean-cut kids to Daytona Beach for mass evangelism. Last year, one of these tract-pushing, Bible-thumping, soul winners happened to be a unregenerate, left-leaning non-believer named Kevin Roose. He describes his baptism in Christian witnessing in his new book, The Unlikely Disciple: A Sinner’s Semester at America’s Holiest University:
Around 11:00 pm, the Jesusmobile pulls up to Razzle’s. Razzle’s is a Wal-Mart-size nightclub with a squadron of earpieced bouncers manning the velvet rope and a set of revolving laser lights that overflow onto the sidewalk. We won’t be going inside, Scott says, but we’ll stand just outside the rope, witnessing to people waiting in line.
The first surprise is that there are at least two other groups of Christian evangelists here. One group, a youth team from a Florida church, has set up a shaved-ice machine on the sidewalk. They’re making sno-cones for the Razzle’s patrons, which almost seems like cheating. (Some Christians call this “gastro-evangelism.”) The other group, which is affiliated with Campus Crusade for Christ, has done something truly brilliant. A well-funded national organization, Campus Crusade rented the ballroom at a hotel next to Razzle’s and set up a fake party inside, complete with strobe lights, a security team, and attractive models paid to stand outside the hotel and gossip loudly about the great party inside. When would-be clubbers enter the room, they quickly realize they’ve been duped — instead of bar specials and trance music, they get gospel tracts and a salvation message.
Our group has no such Trojan horse, just the same Way of the Master routine we used on the beach. Witnessing at Razzle’s, where everyone we meet is either drunk or well on the way, makes communication a little harder.
“Excuse me, sir. Would you help me with an opinion poll?” I ask.
“Sure, go ahead.”
“Who is the greatest person you know?”
“Hmm … gayest person I know … I’d have to say Richard Simmons.”
Roose recently shared with NPR how his semester at Liberty opened his eyes to the sincerity and compassion of these young Christians. Roose never did open his heart to Jesus. But the experience opened something else. His mind. Funny how so many liberals can have such closed ones. There’s irony.