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Feet on the Ground

February 4, 2014

Yesterday, Kyle sat down just as the bell rang, waving his hands.  “You should see the Twitter debate we had last night!” he1a exclaimed.  “Somehow a group of atheists started attacking Christianity, so Reed and I went back and forth with them.”

Kyle went on to discuss how they carefully and methodically walked through Intelligent Design and prophecies, explaining things in detail to the atheists.  “Here, let me show you, sir,” he said, displaying the whole evening’s conversation that went back and forth.  As I read the exchange I was happy to note that our young men met every snide remark with grace and calmness, always sticking to Biblical reason and gentlemanly behavior.

“Well done!” I cried.  “You were pretty straightforward but not arrogant.  I applaud you!”

Kyle grinned.  “It was fun.  It got heated at times, but it was fun.”

I was reminded of the excited voice on the other end of a cell phone call I got one evening at dinnertime five years ago…

“Dr. Zockoll, this is Thomas, from your fifth period class?”

“Yes, Tom, how can I help you?”

“I’m at my shift at the sub shop,” he said quickly, “and I am out in the alley behind the store, taking my five minute break.  I need backup.”

I paused.  “You need what?”

“Backup,” repeated Thomas. “I’m in the store with another worker and we’re making subs in the back kitchen.  About a half an hour ago he started asking me questions about Heaven and God and, well, a whole lot of stuff.  I walked him through some of the class notes I could remember about Jesus’ appearance in Revelation chapter 1 and then about His ultimate victory in chapter 19… and, uh, I talked about some of the Messianic prophecies…”

“Excellent, Thomas” I said, grinning.  “I’ll start praying for you.”

“Yeah, well, I need that and some more,” said Tom, trying to talk over the traffic noise.  “I’m tapped out.”  He took a breath.  “I took them through the plan of salvation but they’re asking some more questions about Heaven and sin… and I don’t have my Bible!”

“You need some answers?”

“Yes, yes I do,” said Tom excitedly.  “Let me ask you a couple of things and then in about a half an hour I’ll pop back out here and get you a couple more questions…”

And so it went through his whole shift.  Tom would spend thirty or forty minutes giving them Biblical truths and then dart outside when they piled other inquiries on him.  I helped him as best I could and then he’d dash back inside.  My phone rang through the whole evening.  I felt like M in a James Bond movie.

One of the great joys of teaching Bible is in seeing feet-on-the-ground results.  Every time I get a late evening or weekend call from a student who has a question about a devotional thought, an intriguing Bible passage or a witnessing opportunity, I am once again reminded of why I went into this particular ministry.

It happened with Bill at Boys’ State.  “I’m at the hotel, next to the ice machine, Doc,” he said.  “I’m rooming with an atheist, and agnostic and a cult member.  The sparks are flying.”  He took a deep breath.  “What a great time!”

“The debate’s really getting hot, huh?”

“Yessir,” he said.  “But I need some backup…”

And so I helped Bill throughout that whole weekend of witnessing for Christ.

I learned that I can be more than a teacher.

I can be Backup.

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