Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Grand Theft Auto Evangelism -- Update


What is the best way for me to understand sacrifice?

Watching movies about Jesus? I thought "Passion of The Christ" was powerful, gruesome, brutal, bloody and compelling but most movies about Jesus can be just plain silly. The actor that plays Jesus wears a clean, glowing white robe and he looks like he might have been a California surfer.

Listening to sermons about sacrifice? (Warning: Broad Sweeping Statement Follows) The pastor gives a sermon on "sacrifice" and "digging down deep" during the "new building campaign". Immediately following the sermon, the pastor and his family leave the church in a brand new, black, extremely shiny Cadillac SUV (I love the fact that my pastor has an extremely crappy old van but more about that later).

Watching "Jesus" flicks and listening to sermons dripping in "sacrifice" don't ring my bell like someone who is living, breathing and actually doing sacrificial acts. Yesterday I heard about a skydiving instructor who sacrificed his body for one of his students. Over the weekend in Florida, a plane crashed into a family's home while they were eating breakfast. The father made sure his family was safe and then rushed to the plane that crashed into his home to see if he could save the passengers. Another sacrificial act hit closer to home. This past Sunday my Pastor Tom Nelson played a living, breathing role in an extremely real reality show called "Grand Theft Auto Evangelism".

A stranger walked into church Sunday morning while Pastor Tom and others were preparing for services. The stranger asked Tom for cab fare. Instead Tom gave the stranger his van to use for the day. The verbal agreement was "use my van and bring it back when you're finished". Long story short that was Sunday and today is Wednesday. The stranger and the van have not returned. Pastor Tom's van is a clunker or as I like to say, "piece of crap". Even if Tom had a new, shiny SUV and God led him to do it I'm pretty sure that the story would have played out the same. Here is something else I know about my Pastor. He won't take one ounce of the glory. He'll give the glory to God instead.

God changes the hearts of men and then compels them to make sacrifices for others. Will you and I be obedient to His call or will we make Christ followers look shallow, selfish and comfortable? Many have heard the Gospel. Very few have actually seen the Gospel in action. What will you and I do today to show the Gospel to others through sacrificial acts? When we make a sacrifice will we give God the glory or put ourselves in the spotlight?

"You can learn a lot about a person by watching how they treat strangers."

"Christians love evangelism as long as someone else is doing it."
--Ed Stetzer

Pastor Tom's sacrifice made it to the Daytona Beach News Journal. Click here to read the story.

Thurs. May 20th, 6:50 PM. Pastor Tom just tweeted: "Police just called. Astro (the van) phoned home! A block from the church." Follow Pastor Tom on Twitter by clicking here.


  1. Thanks Mike. I am overwhelmed. -PT

  2. I love this post. I believe that this pastor's actions will speak so much more than any of his words.

    Good stuff bro.

  3. Very Cool. Glad I don't have a caddy. :)

  4. Mike, thanks for sharing this story. It's neat to see Tom living what he teaches.

    I'm curious, what is Tom's response? Did he expect that he might not see the van for a while or ever? Is he cool with that? Is he looking for another vehicle?

  5. OK, now that I've read the newspaper article I know that a police report has been filed.

    Mike, I'm going to push the envelope on this... I think it was generous of Tom to loan the man his van. Honestly, I probably would have taken the easy way out and just given him some money. But wouldn't the ultimate act of mercy be to let the guy have the van?

    I just read Luke 6:34-36

    34And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. 35But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

    Almost none of us who claim to be Christ followers (myself included) seem to take this passage seriously. We almost never "lend without expecting to get anything back." Should we?

  6. Good post but even better news article.

    I wish more newspapers would print articles as well written and unbiased as that!

  7. So few of us understand true sacrifice. Attempting to help the homeless last year was a hard lesson in sacrifice. It's easy to bring someone a bottle of water or a meal. Once you get beyond that and begin forming relationships with some of these guys, it gets messy. Messy and heartbreaking and disappointing at times. But you don't stop trying. You don't give up. Even if you continue to fail time and time again. Because you just never know what kind of impact you may have on them later. And maybe it's not for you to know. God knows.

    Sounds like you've got a pretty great pastor.

  8. Nice blog. That was my quote for your title.

  9. Sacrifice costs. Betrayal of kindness stings, even when love has been extended for only a short time. But me? I belong to the Lord, as does my stuff. When it's ripped off via a lie or theft, the debt belongs to God alone.

    I pray that the kindness shown in the use of a car might be all it takes to entice a sinner to step onto the path of life.

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