Have you ever met someone that at least for a fleeting moment, right or wrong, you thought was “just off?” Yeah, I know we shouldn’t judge people like that and I usually don’t but James was different. He grew up in the Bronx, raised on the streets, addicted to drugs and alcohol in his teens, but then got saved and ended up on the same floor in my dorm.
All he ever wanted to talk about was the Bible and the Gospel and in every free moment he had walked around town looking for opportunities to share. I had a few occasions to be around him off campus, my roommate and he became pretty good friends. He had absolutely no reservations about talking to anyone about the Gospel, even if they seemed uninterested, he inserted his Gospel presentation into their conversations. Pretty, professional, wealthy, poor, Muslim, Catholic… James didn’t seem to be phased by any of that. It was like he was “color blind” to differences and he was unintimidated, bold and unashamed. I admired him for that.
One of the summers during college, I travelled to the Philippines with the singing group I sang with, and some interns traveled to Manila with us at the same time. James was one of them. We took a couple of days off in Manila and the missionaries decided to take us to the beach. James seemed a little agitated, no one knew why. I knew. I knew James. He was thinking that he wasn’t there to do touristy type things. He was there to proclaim the Gospel.
So, it came as no surprise after my small group who had ventured off looking for shells, returned to where we started to find James, ankle deep in water literally shouting the Gospel to a small group of strangers surrounding him.
I don’t know if anyone came to Christ that day, ankle deep in the ocean, but I do know it wasn’t because they didn’t hear the Gospel loud and clear. James was a gifted evangelist, articulate, bold, empowered… color blind and unashamed.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 KJV
I believe Paul was wired the same way: color blind and unashamed. He said so himself to the Romans. If there was someone out there who could reject him and his message, they have! They’ve chased him out of towns, abused him, incarcerated him and yet in spite of it all, he never had fear or shame in sharing the Gospel. It takes a unique individual to undergo his level of opposition to stay strong in his faith, unashamed to share, until they have truly grabbed the “power of God unto salvation.” If we could fully grasp the depth of that power, that mercy, that grace, perhaps we too could become among the few who proudly declare the Gospel of Christ, unashamed and color blind!
Dr. Ronald J. Barnes
President / CEO
August 16, 2022