It was a Princess Cruise. As I’d done in the past, I approached the cruise director asking permission to lead an interdenominational Bible study.
He was enthusiastic! He said I could do it Sunday morning and he would give me the theater! I thought to myself, “Hmm…the theater holds at least a thousand people. Oh well, I suppose I could gather the usual 30-50 people over in a corner.”
Sunday morning I arrived ten minutes early and was shocked to discover the theater was already half full. Each entrance had a table with stacks of hymnals! The stage had been converted to an altar with a large brass cross, tall electric candles and a podium.
I started to panic. My little study in Colossians was not going to work. My first thought was to quietly back up and disappear. But instead, I picked up a hymnal and walked down the center aisle, praying like crazy. I greeted those in front and tried to act confident.
I stepped to the podium at exactly 9AM and suggested we open our hymnals to Amazing Grace—a song familiar to both Protestants and Catholics. Next I opened in prayer. Then I introduced myself.
“I am not a pastor, nor a minister. I’m simply a guest, as you are. However, for several years I have been a volunteer chaplain in our county jail back home.” For some reason, that comment brought a peal of laughter.
During the laughter God spoke to me. I didn’t actually hear Him, but I felt Him direct me to speak to the people as if they were inmates. So I did. I was winging it, and yet I wasn’t. It was almost as if God was speaking through me.
I began, “Let me ask you a question that I often ask inmates. That is, ‘Who is Jesus Christ to you, personally?’”
People from all over the theater began calling out answers. I repeated the answers as I heard them and told them these are the same types of answers I often hear from inmates: “Jesus was a great teacher. Jesus was the ultimate role model. Jesus was a good person, an historical figure. He was the Son of God.” These are all true statements, but they don’t answer my question, “Who is Jesus to you, personally?”
There were two couples sitting together down in the front that called out, “My personal Lord and Savior!” I instantly felt a connection with them. Somehow I knew they were praying for me. Later I discovered I was right.
I said, “When inmates tell me, ‘Jesus is my personal Savior. He is everything to me,’ they are letting me know that Jesus Christ has personally impacted their lives.
“Another question I might ask is, ‘If you were to die today, do you know where you’d go?’ Often inmates say they are pretty confident they’d go to heaven because a few years ago they prayed a prayer and got saved. It doesn’t seem to concern them that they have continued to live a life of sin.
“Recently an inmate said, ‘I think I deserve heaven because I’m a good person. I’ve never really done anything wrong.’ I wanted to say ‘HELLO! Do you know where you are?’”
Somehow I filled 25 minutes and the response from passengers amazed me. Several actually requested we meet again mid-week! The cruise director was again pleased.
Since then I have led many on-board church services—adding altar calls. But now I come with a prepared message—it makes it much easier!
- Wherever we go there are people who need the Lord. God wants to use us to be His light to a lost world. Have you ever considered leading a church service on a cruise ship? Would you?
- You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14
- SONG: I KNOW HIM – By Kathleen
[This life is temporary. This life is short. When this life is over, our bodies will die and become empty shells, but our souls will continue to live forever. Where will the “real you” live? Will you live for all eternity separated from God? Or will you spend eternity in the presence of God in heaven? Learn more so you can make your most important decision: http://www.godlife.com/gospel/ and http://www.godlife.com/en/about-christianity
[To leave a comment or prayer request, simply click on the TITLE of this post and scroll to the bottom.]