It was a Wednesday night, which meant the Iowa State campus bars were busy. I parked on a side street near the largest beer joint, repositioned my cap with its JESUS lettering on the front, picked up my Bible, and headed for the place.
I walked inside and over to the bar on the side wall. The bartender wiped the counter in front of me. “What would you like, sir?” he asked.
“A Pepsi,” I replied.
He laughed. “Tell you what I’m going to do, this one’s on the house. You just might add some excitement to our crowd tonight,” he said, pouring ice and Pepsi into a tall glass.
I thanked him, turned around, and walked over to the largest table I could find. I sat down and began reading my Bible, even though loud music blasted through an overhead stereo system.
A few minutes, a frat guy and his date stopped by my table. “What are you doing?” he asked, sipping his beer.
I looked up and smiled. “I’m holding a Bible study,” I said.
“You can’t hold a Bible study in a bar!”
“Yes, I can. This is the perfect place.”
“You should really hold your study in a church or maybe in your home.”
“That’s where I used to hold Bible studies, but you and your friends didn’t show up there. So, I’ve decided to come where you are – to the bars.”
“You’re a nut!”
“Yes, I’m a nut for Jesus.”
He and his girl friend shook their heads and walked away.
But it wasn’t long before six or seven students sat at my table and a bunch of kids stood around us. All fired questions at me, about my beliefs, about Bible concerns, and so forth. One girl summed up what everyone felt: “Jesus would never walk into a campus bar. He wouldn’t do that!”
“Well, He came here tonight,” I said, “because He lives in me. And you know what? Jesus absolutely loves you because He went to the cross with you on His mind.”
What did I accomplish at that campus bar?
I really have no clue, but I felt the Lord wanted me to go there. So I just obeyed Him.
Now, to be honest, as I walked from my truck to the front door of the bar, my brain screamed: “You’re crazy to do this. God would never want you to do this. Why the bouncer will pick you up by your neck and through you out into the street. Jesus’ name will be muddied by your actions.”
After I opened the bar’s door and stepped inside, my brain shut up and His grace fell upon me. I felt bold as the Lion of Judah.
This was the night I learned that the Lord’s grace, boldness, and anointing awaited us in the action, not outside on the street, looking in.
Jesus said, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel,” and on that particular autumn night in 1993, the walls encircling my world fell down.
(Continued in Part 5…if you’re interested, the full series to date can be seen here.)