Gary: Welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7, a radio ministry of The Berean Call featuring T.A. McMahon. I’m Gary Carmichael. It’s great to have you tuned in! In today’s program, Tom begins a two-part series with guest Mark Cahill as they address the topic: “Evangelize, evangelize, evangelize!” Here’s TBC Executive Director, Tom McMahon.
Tom: Thanks, Gary. Today and next week I have the pleasure of interviewing Mark Cahill. Mark’s ministry is evangelism, and from my observation having spent time with him, he is called, in my view, he is gifted and anointed for the task. Mark’s been a speaker at our TBC conference, and honestly I don’t know anyone more effective in encouraging fellow believers in their witnessing for the Lord.
Now, some of Mark’s books are One Heartbeat Away; One Thing You Can’t Do in Heaven, which we offer here at The Berean Call; and we’re going to talk about another book a little later, a little booklet: The Second Greatest Lie Ever Told. So that’s coming up.
Mark, welcome to Search the Scriptures 24/7.
Mark: Hey, Tom. Great to hear your voice again, and always good to do things with TBC. You know, when I did the conferences - I think I did a couple of them - we kept getting all these really neat emails from people that were sitting out there that just went back home and opened up their mouth at restaurants, at the hotels, and just were bold for Christ. And you know, that just brings joy to my heart, I know it brings joy to yours, but really it brings joy to Jesus Christ, because that’s what we’re here for: to seek and to save those who are lost.
Tom: Yeah. You know, and, Mark, afterwards you not only spoke at our conference, but you spoke at the fellowship where I belong, and let me tell you: you packed it out there, and they still talk about it.
Now, again, this is to the glory of the Lord. You know what I’m saying here: when we can get excited about what the Lord’s doing and see people have a renewed heart for evangelism.
Now, let me give you another insight on a personal basis, and you can give me an “amen” to this: I have five children, as you know. I have no greater joy than to see my children walking in the truth. Mark, they were all over you, especially my daughter who ministers at University of Oregon, to get your books, to get your materials, and so on. So again, thank you, Jesus, and thank you, Mark, for being available to Him for all of this.
Mark: I think one of the things is - I think it should actually be illegal to talk about Jesus Christ without being passionate about talking about Christ. You know, people get passionate over the Oscars, or passionate over March Madness or something like that - wait a minute! This is the real deal here. This is what we’re here for, and I just am always a little - get heebie jeebies when I’m listening to a speaker and I just… It doesn’t mean you have to be loud or boisterous, but if I don’t get that passion out of your voice…
And you know, it’s funny, because your daughter emailed me a few times from up in Eugene and we sent her some materials, and she’s bold for the Lord up there, and that’s what we love to hear, as well.
Tom: Yeah, yeah. Now, Mark, tell us about your background. I know there are many of those who know The Berean Call are familiar with you, but many may not be. So tell us about your background, how you got saved.
Mark: Yeah, we grew up in New Jersey [and] New York back in the day, and then we moved down South, and grew up Roman Catholic, so just going to Mass and confirmation and all the basics, as you know of. I made it through high school without ever having the gospel shared with me. I don’t know how you can do that in the Deep South, but I was able to do that; and nobody cared about my soul, so I thought that was kind of interesting.
So I go off to college to chase my god of basketball, and little did I know, Tom, that at Auburn University there were going to be four young men--two football players, the manager on the basketball team, and the head of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes--who took time to share Jesus Christ with me, and I still know their names 30 years later. And I was sitting there one day, there were a couple football players sitting on the end of my bed and sharing some stuff with me, and I thought a little bit later, I thought, “You know, they wouldn’t have taken the time to do this if they didn’t care about me. You know, maybe I need to look into this.” And it was just one of the things that hit me.
A guy gave me a Bible (never owned a Bible; living in the Deep South, never owned a Bible), and I started researching, studying… I love knowledge. I love to think, I love to study, so I started doing that. And then someone handed me a gospel tract on Bourbon Street in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, and I read that. Didn’t get saved, but it sure still sits in my head to this day.
Then I was actually watching a Christian television show, and the person just laid out the gospel as clear as a bell, Tom, and I just knelt down in front of my television and repented of my sins and believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of my sins, and that’s how it got started, and that’s what gets me out here on the radio all these years later.
Tom: Yeah, praise the Lord. Praise the Lord. You know, Mark, a verse I think about a lot: “One man plants, another waters, but God gives the increase, and neither he that plants nor he that waters is anything.” But the context here, at least in my thinking, is you never know where somebody is with regard to what’s already been planted, what’s already been watered. So that means, certainly, if we recognize that somebody doesn’t understand the gospel, or hasn’t been given the gospel - but sometimes it’s a lot easier than that, isn’t it? You’re just there to confirm…
Mark: Yeah, yeah, exactly. That’s where we did the book The Watchmen, and it’s out of Ezekiel 33, blowing the trumpet and warning people trouble’s coming, and that’s just - that’s what our job is to do. God handles all the rest of it.
So I was at Cal State Fullerton a few weeks ago, and I sat down next to this girl named Erica. We started talking, asked her what she thought happened when she died, and we’re just going back and forth, Tom. Next thing you know, right towards the end of the conversation, she looks at me and says, “You know, you’re the second person in two days to tell me about God and Jesus Christ.”
Tom: Mm-hmm. Wow.
Mark: I said, “Really?”
She said, “Yeah.” She said, “I don’t believe in coincidences. I think God’s trying to get my attention.”
And that’s what she said to me sitting on a brick wall by the student union at Cal State Fullerton the other day. And so somebody planted the day before. I don’t know who that was, but God allowed me to water on that seed, so I’m very thankful for whoever that faithful person was, because Erica was doing some serious thinking and that person didn’t even know it, they were just being faithful to God.
Tom: Amen, amen, amen. Now, Mark, your ministry - you know, you heard me talk about it, just how blessed I have been personally, and we as a ministry have been blessed to offer your materials and to work with you. But is it more than just evangelism? Tell us about your ministry.
Mark: Yeah, sure. You know, remember, you really, really… evangelism ministries - it’s actually so much more than that, because it’s so much apologetics, because when you’re out on the streets and you’re talking with people - and I love to go to college campuses and talk with students, and they have great questions. But you and I both know that the Bible and the Lord Jesus Christ have great answers to those questions. And so you have to learn these answers to their questions, so it keeps you studying: studying to show yourself approved unto God, rightly handling the Word of God, you know, with people. So you get into all the good, fun apologetics with it, too. But it also has so much to do with prayer, because, you know, before you walk out your front door, you want to be prayed up, ready to go, because you don’t know if you’re sitting next to Erica right there, or you’re going to be talking to a college professor, or you’re going to get somebody that - boy, we’ve had this a lot, Tom, just had bad experiences in church settings, and so they’re kind of not a big fan of Christians. But then all of a sudden when they meet you and you’re a nice person and you’re speaking the truth in love as Ephesians 4 tells us to do, you can just see their guards begin to drop a little bit, their barriers go down, and they get very open for a conversation.
So actually evangelism kind of drives those other things in a Christian walk, you know, and that’s what I tell people. People forget it’s kind of like putting a key in a car: you turn it on and evangelism is the engine that drives that car, but many people aren’t putting the key in. They’re studying apologetics books, or they’re doing this Bible study here, and that’s all great, but if it doesn’t cause me to open up my mouth to want to talk to that Muslim, or want to talk to that atheist to give them truth, then really, what’s the whole point of it all?
Tom: Yeah. Mark, a good buddy of mine is Carl Kerby, and he loves you, as you well know, and he likes to credit you with this statement, and you explain it to our believers: “Witnessing,” and you’ve just been saying this, “Witnessing is not about confrontation; it’s about conversation.” Explain that for our listeners.
Mark: Yeah, I was actually speaking in Cincinnati one time when Carl came to hear me speak, and he was sitting out there. So he came up to chat afterwards - I did a two-hour training seminar - and he came up and said, “Mark, the best line you said the whole night: ‘Witnessing is not a presentation; witnessing is a conversation.’” So witnessing is not a presentation; witnessing is a conversation.
And what’s interesting, Tom, it was kind of a throw-in line. It wasn’t in my notes, I just kind of went on a tangent for a second, came back, and he said to me - and I’ll never forget what he said to me. He said, “That’s the best line in your entire talk. Make sure you say that all the time.”
Well, not only do I say it all the time now, Carl says it all the time in his talks, as well, the same thing. But if we just remember very basically Jesus had a conversation with the woman at the well. He had a conversation with the rich young ruler. Paul had a conversation with Felix. He had a conversation with Agrippa. So what we do is we just go out there and have conversations, and then we present things during the conversation.
So again, one thing we always encourage our audiences with, and yours as well, is that every one of us can have a conversation. We just need to make sure we flip the switch and make it an eternal conversation. So we don’t have to go out there and just present, present, present, and present; conversations go back and forth.
I just did a retreat over in Austin, Texas a couple weeks ago, and it was an Asian church, so most of the kids went to the University of Texas. And one of the guys emailed me afterwards, Justin, and he went to get his hair cut. Same guy who always cut his hair a million times, Tom, and he’s just never asked him a question. And so he finally said, “Hey, can I ask you an interesting question?”
He said, “Sure.”
He said, “When you die, what do you think is on the other side? What do you think is out there when you walk out of here?” Bingo! They start talking back and forth. You know, he’s looking in the mirror back at the guy cutting his hair, and the guy’s looking in the mirror back at him, and the guy was atheist, agnostic. Justin did a really good job sharing his faith with him, and then he just said, “Hey, do you like to read?”
And he said, “Yeah, I actually do.”
He said, “Well, I’ve got a book for you.” Justin drives home, gets the book One Heartbeat Away (you guys carry that; great book for thinkers), signs a little note to the barber, drives back to the barbershop, and gives the guy the book.
So think about that whole encounter: one, he just had a conversation with the guy cutting his hair, okay? Asked him good questions. Justin’s a very smart senior at UT, accounting major, loves the Lord, so he did very good with his answers to him - lovingly did it. “Hey, do you like to read?” - planted the seed. Now, who knows what’s going to water behind that seed? But Justin gets to actually get to follow that one up, because he’ll get his hair cut again, and get to talk to him again and see how he’s liking the book.
So yeah, it’s just very simple. I just go out and have conversations with people, then we present truth, biblical truth during the conversation.
Tom: Going back to my buddy Carl, there’s such a - I don’t even know what the term to use is, but there’s such a relationship here in what we’ve just been talking about. In other words, the relationship of apologetics to evangelism.
As you know, Carl, was one of the founders of Answers in Genesis, but the Lord had put on his heart - he wanted to do more than just apologetics. He wanted to evangelize, and now with the ministry that he has - you know, I want to say this: there’s no holds barred in terms of going from apologetics to evangelism back to apologetics, and so on. I mean, it’s the way we need to go about it. So you’re just underscoring that.
Mark: Yeah, they go hand in glove, Tom; they really do. And the other thing that’s different about a conversation than a presentation: a conversation makes you vulnerable, because they can ask you questions. You have to be open with the person...you know, like I was walking someone through the Ten Commandments the other day, you know: “Have you ever told a lie before?”
“What’s it make you?”
He said, “A liar.”
And he turned right back and said, “You’ve never told a lie before?”
Well, of course, I have, as well. You see, it wasn’t putting me above him. It allowed him to ask me questions, as well. If I’m just presenting things to people, that can be so robotic. You know, it’s almost like you feel the person’s got an agenda and they’re trying to get a notch on their belt because they’ve got five sentences they memorized out of their head today in someone’s life. A conversation is much more personal, much more direct with the person. They can look in your eyes, you can look in their eyes to see if they’re serious about it; they can see if you’re serious about it, and I just see that in the Scriptures, as well. And I just think if we would just model that as we’re ambassadors of Christ, model that so much better and do that…
And, actually, Carl’s very good at that, because the other thing: it just keeps you a regular person. It doesn’t make you some high-falutin’ speaker who writes books. You’re just sitting next to somebody in the student union at USC getting into a conversation. There’s just something about one-on-one to people that just is...there’s this power to that that I don’t think you get anywhere else.
Tom: Right. Well, I know for me personally, as I mentioned earlier, I pray, “Lord, just give me an opportunity. Give me an opportunity. Today’s the day that You have made. Give me an opportunity to be used of You.” And I can’t think of anything on this temporal time on earth that is more exciting than to know that the Lord gave you an opportunity and you used it and you were being used of Him. I would ask any of our listeners: Write to me. Tell me what’s more exciting than knowing that you’ve just been used by the Lord…
Tom: ...for things that relate to eternity!
Mark: Exactly. I tell people, at the end of their life, Tom, either God’s going to have used you or Satan’s going to have used you, but you got used. I mean, you’re going to get used. And then I’ll usually ask the audience, “You ever been used by another person before?”
And they go, “Yeah.”
And I said, “It wasn’t a good feeling, was it?”
And they go, “No.”
I say, “You just want to make sure that at the end of your life God’s done the using and Satan hasn’t done the using.”
So that’s why when I stand at my front door I put my hands up in the air (and I gave the talk out at the conference - I call it “pray for BOB”). I just pray for a “B” burden for these lost people. “O” for opportunity, God. Give me that opportunity. Give me the “B” boldness,” and I stand there and pray for BOB: Burden, Opportunity, Boldness. I walk out the door and just begin to watch what happens.
I was at the Fort Walton Beach Airport in January, and there was this guy with all these tattoos who was working there. I said, “Hey, what’s your favorite tattoo?”
Tom, he started showing me all these tattoos. He had a Star of David, a Hindu tattoo, he had a Buddhist tattoo, he had every tattoo of a religion except - what was the one religion he didn’t have? Yep, there was no cross on him. I said, “Wait a minute, why no cross of Christianity?” Well, bingo. We start talking. He’s an atheist. I said, “Hey, what’s the best piece of evidence you have found that there is no God?” We start talking back and forth, back and forth - conversation, not a presentation. Then Austin tells me that he was into Satanism for a while. I said, “Really?”
He said, “Yeah, as a matter of fact one time I took some wood from a pallet, built a cross, and burned the cross.”
And I said, “Austin, I highly recommend you don’t do that.”
He said, “I actually took a picture of it.” He said, “When I looked at the picture, there was a demon face in the picture.”
So I asked Austin a very simple question: I said, “Austin, where did the demon come from? Because once you have angels and demons, there has to be something greater than us that made angels and demons.” And I let him know the God of the Bible is the Creator of all that. You should have seen his eyes when I asked him that question, because he couldn’t answer the question where the demon came from.
So we’re talking back and forth, Tom. And so he was working at one of the kiosk-type things. Well, people came over and started buying water and stuff and magazines, so I just pulled my credit card out every time someone came up and said, “I’m going to get that - I’m going to buy that for you. Jesus said it’s more blessed to give than to receive.”
They’re like, “Really? Wow!” So we keep talking. Another person…three different people walked up interrupting this conversation. You should have seen Austin’s eyes, Tom. [They] got bigger and bigger, because he saw I was trying to be the real deal. I bless people everywhere I go, but he saw me living out what I was just telling him: how this Jesus Christ changes your life.
“Do you like to read?”
Austin said, “I love to read.”
So I signed a book, gave him a book, and said, “Now, you’ve got to search this out.” I said, “I want to see you in heaven one day.” This Austin guy, Tom, was so thankful that this Christian man walked into his life to give him eternal truth. I think that’s sometimes what your audience - that’s what they’re forgetting: they’re forgetting the other person, that they can be so thankful that you sat next to them on the plane flight. You were the one that they got to cut your hair today. You were the one that sat next to them at the coffee shop. And I think we just forget that dynamic, and that’s why there’s such a thrill - talk to anybody who shares their faith: there’s always an excitement to their walk with Christ. It’s always exciting, because every day, every person keeps that an exciting way to live your life for Jesus Christ.
Tom: Yeah. Mark, I think in all of what you’ve said, there’s something underlying, and whether the people articulate it to you or don’t, you’re expounding upon hope, a hope. You have a hope that they don’t have, whether that comes through directly or not. I think that’s just a main deal. They got to talk to somebody - you sat down with them, and whether you use the term “hope” or not, that’s what we know they don’t have. Call themselves an agnostic, call themselves an atheist or whatever, they don’t have any hope. Wow.
Mark: Why is Jesus Christ in the Bible called the blessed hope? Because we have hope that they don’t have. I was in the LAX Airport, and a guy with a turban on his head...I walked up to him, I said, “Sikh!”
He said, “How do you know that?” Because most people think they’re Muslims and stuff. So we just start talking back and forth; I know a little bit about their religion, so I just asked him some questions about their beliefs about God… So just remember it’s a conversation, keep asking questions. I said, “What do you think happens when you die?”
He said, “Well, I have 8.4 millions lives to live.” And he said, “Human is the last life. If I don’t get it right, I have to go back through the 8.4 million lives again,” the different species and everything. Just think about that for a second, Tom: he’s got to go back through the whole cycle one more time.
So I said, “So if you get it right, then what?”
And he said, “Well, then I move on out of this body. Human is the last part and blends back into God,” whatever it is.
And I said, “Okay, question for you…”
He said, “What?”
I said, “Have you gotten it right in this life?”
Tom, he looked at me with the biggest eyes, and he said, “That’s a great question.” So here he is going through life and what doesn’t he have? He doesn’t have hope, because he doesn’t know if he’s gotten it right to get out of the 8.4 million cycle and do that. Well, it doesn’t matter if you’re a successful IT guy, which he was. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Sikh in the middle of the airport and a nice, friendly guy that he was. He had no hope.
That’s why - we have all the hope in the world - that when a friend of mine just died in January and he had committed his life to Jesus Christ, and served in his church, and boom-boom-boom, and lived for God, I know exactly where Tate’s at! I don’t have any, “Oh, I wonder where he might be?” No, no, no, I can know that, and we as Christians need to know that. But if we have that where we know where we’re going, why don’t we want to give that to somebody else so they get out of that cycle of not having any hope?
Tom: Yeah. Now, Mark, we’ve got about five minutes left in this segment, but in your view, what’s the biggest issue from all your experience and all the seminars that you’ve put on for the retreats and so on, what’s the biggest issue that you think keeps believers from sharing their faith, and how can they overcome it?
Mark: Yeah, good question. I actually do that in one of my seminars. I go back and forth with the audience and have them...what holds us back from sharing with everybody we mee? I just did it the other day with about 2,000 students at Biola, and we’re in a big gym, and I made them raise hands up and come back and give me the answer. And the answers always typically wind up being the same things: “What if I can’t answer a question that they ask me?” Well, what if you can’t? It doesn’t mean God isn’t God. It doesn’t mean the Bible isn’t still true. It doesn’t mean the tomb isn’t empty, so what if I can’t answer a question? It shouldn’t stop me from sharing my faith.
“Hey, it’s somebody else’s job!” That’s always a big one. They think it’s Tom’s job, because he’s in full-time ministry, but I tell people if you’re breathing, you’re in full-time ministry. It may not be at a church, it may not be at a ministry, but we need Christian school teachers, Christian plumbers, we need Christian business owners. We’re all in full time ministry and do that.
But the biggest one that you get from people is they’re scared to get rejected: “What if I get rejected when I’m out there?” Well, one: what if you do? Why would that stop us from sharing our faith? Because if we truly know the Scriptures correctly, and if I’m sharing the biblical Jesus with people, Tom, they’re actually not rejecting you, they’re not rejecting me, they’re rejecting Jesus Christ, and shouldn’t that hurt my little heart just a little bit more that they hate the Savior that I’ve committed my life to? Shouldn’t that bother me just a little bit more?
So again, in basketball, if you’re driving to the goal and some big dude blocks your shot and rejects it and knocks it out of the gym into the stands, well, does that mean you just shoot jump shots the rest of your life? No, you go right back in there, you drive back down in the hole again, and you try to get that ball in the bucket. So just because rejection - we don’t have to worry about that, because the Scriptures say in Luke 6 as well: “If you are rejected for Christ, great is your reward in heaven,” okay, because you made a bold stand for God. And I just tell people, “Read Hebrews 11 and look at the real rejection.” People get sawn asunder, thrown to lions, thrown in prison. Yeah, we might get laughed at over in Eugene. Someone over there may not want to talk to us, but my goodness, I met so many open hearts at Cal State Fullerton and USC a couple weeks ago that you don’t...the rejections don’t even worry you anymore.
Tom: Right, right. And again, as I mentioned earlier, even if you were being rejected, Jesus said, “Hey, they rejected Me. What do you think? They persecuted Me. What do you think’s going to happen?” But what’s the option? The option is the person who rejected what you may have brought forth - their eternal destiny - that’s what we’re dealing with here! Where are they going to spend eternity?
Tom: Yeah. So, anyway, my guest is Mark Cahill, and as you’ve heard, Mark’s an author and, you know, I believe (my words - you can blame me for this, Mark) certainly one of the most anointed evangelists I know. And he’s out in the rough and tumble, out on the street, out with the people, and so on. So, Mark, we’re going to continue to pray for you, for your protection, but for your effectiveness to God’s glory. And this is just part one, folks. Coming back next week we’re going to deal with some more issues related to evangelizing, how important it is, and what needs to be our basis for getting into it. And Mark said earlier, hey, he doesn’t walk out the door without being prayed up, and that’s a major part of this as well. So, Mark, thank you for being with me in this segment, and we look forward to having you back next week.
Mark: Always fun, Tom. Thank you.
Gary: You’ve been listening to Search the Scriptures 24/7 with T.A. McMahon, a radio ministry of The Berean Call. We offer a wide variety of resources to help you in your study of God’s Word. For a complete list of materials and a free subscription to our monthly newsletter contact us at PO Box 7019 Bend, Oregon, 97708. Call us at 800.937.6638, or visit our website at the bereancall.org. I’m Gary Carmichael. Thanks for being here, and we invite you back again next week. Until then, we encourage you to Search the Scriptures 24/7.