FROM THE PROFS: Waitress’ weeping turns to joy
Editor’s Note: The following is the first in an ongoing series in which we ask our professors to share a personal experience of everyday evangelism. This first entry is from evangelism professor Matt Queen.
“Has anyone told you today that Jesus loves you?”
Matt Queen, L.R. Scarborough Chair of Evangelism at Southwestern Seminary, asked this of his waitress at an Applebee’s restaurant in Easley, S.C., during Revive This Nation earlier this year. Queen often attempts to evangelize his servers, typically by first asking if he can pray for them, then actually praying for them (with them present, if possible), and then sharing the Gospel and inviting a response before he leaves. In this particular instance, however, Queen sensed the need to be more direct.
Somewhat unexpectedly, this question elicited an emotional response from the waitress. In Queen’s words, “the biggest crocodile tears began to flow from her eyes.”
Through her tears, the waitress shared that, in fact, her mother had communicated this truth to her earlier that day. Queen continued, “Has there been a time when you received the forgiveness of Jesus and His love?” The waitress replied, “Yes, I’ve done that.”
Discerning the need to inquire further, not the least because of her sobbing, Queen said, “Let me ask you this way: If you were to die, would you go to heaven?” The waitress answered, “I think I would.”
“On what basis?” Queen asked her. She said, “Because I think I’m a pretty good person.”
“I began to very politely explain to her that good works doesn’t handle it,” Queen recalls. “If we could get there by good works,” he told her, “Jesus would have stayed up in heaven.
“But Jesus had to come to earth. He had to die on a cross for our sins. He had to be buried. And on the third day, He had to be raised from the dead.”
Clearly under conviction, the waitress’ tears continued to flow down her cheeks. Queen said to her, “Would you like to receive the forgiveness that Jesus can offer, not that you can earn by your own good works?” She replied, “Yes, but I want to show you something first.”
The waitress rolled up her left sleeve, and at that point, the reason for her crying finally became clear; her left arm was covered with blood, scratches and bruises. She proceeded to turn around and reveal that the back of her shirt was torn.
The waitress shared that, until that morning, she had been in a homosexual relationship. That day, however, knowing the relationship to be against God’s will, she had decided to leave. Her bloody arm and torn clothing were the result of her girlfriend’s attempts to prevent her from doing so.
With all of her belongings left in her girlfriend’s apartment, the waitress was unsure of where to go and what to do. Queen, who was at the restaurant with the pastor of the church at which he was preaching that week, told the waitress, “I know two places you can go: (1) you need to go to Jesus; (2) you need to go to this church.”
“I know you weren’t expecting this [witnessing encounter],” he continued. “But it seems to me that before we even met, God was already beginning to work on your heart. Today, instead of just trusting in your being a good person and trying to do the right thing, would you trust in Jesus—His death, burial and resurrection—being the only thing you need to be saved?”
The waitress reaffirmed her desire to call upon the name of the Lord. So, with guidance from Queen, she expressed to God that she is a sinner; that Jesus lived, died and rose again for her sins; and that He is Lord.
Right there in the restaurant, before all the other servers and customers, the waitress became a born-again believer. “She was still crying,” Queen says, “but the meaning for the tears had taken a different shape; it was joy.”
The pastor committed his church to follow up with her, and Queen provided her with money to stay somewhere for the night. Though her momentary issues had not been fully resolved, she had solved the eternal problem every individual faces—she was now right with God.