Continuing with “Iowa’s Top 10 In 2023,” an outreach campaign designed by Tulip Gospel Outreach and other churches to reach the ten most populated cities in Iowa with the gospel of Jesus Christ — we went to Waterloo. It was an interesting experience, because we didn’t really have a plan as to where to go, but was hoping that the Lord would provide someone to talk to.
After meeting others in our team and having lunch at Arby’s, we decided to go to Lincoln Park, in downtown Waterloo. It is this very quaint park that doesn’t seem to fit in the area; almost an oasis in the middle of concrete and cars. We parked, paid the meters, and there wasn’t a soul around. I was hopeful that someone would be there, but we had to get our steps in and go where the fish were.
We split into two teams; I went with Jon Neifert of Tulip Gospel Outreach, and the Charles family stuck together. We decided to take different city blocks and see if we could find someone to strike up a conversation. After a few minutes we came around the corner and met everyone again. I was praying in my head that the Lord would give us wisdom as to where to go. That’s when I said to Jon, “You know, civilizations on earth were always created near water and drawn to water. People today are not that different. Is there any water around here?” He stopped and thought a minute and then we started walking in that direction.
As we walked towards the bridge, we found a disheveled man who was walking in the same direction. His name is Cody. We talked a little with him, and gave him a tract and a Gideon Bible. He seemed a little anxious to get to his destination so we had to cut it a little short.
We met up with the Chris and his daughter who were talking to a man fishing off the bridge and they had a good conversation with him. They said it went well with good dialogue and left the man with some things to consider and think about. We parted again and I heard barking, but couldn’t see any dogs anywhere. That’s when we saw that there was a walkway below us where people were fishing. We investigated and so glad we did.
Fishing with men
As we walked along the waterway we ran into a few people and handed out some tracts. Then we came across a guy wearing this green shirt and decided to talk to him. Jon asked him if he caught anything. All smiles he lifted up what looked like a 15 in carp. That was a nice fish. So, I walked down to him, gave him a tract and the book, “What Time is Purple.” He was happy, but learned quickly that his English was weak.
We talked with him for a few minutes as best we could and Jon wished him well and that Jesus would bring him a good catch. He smiled and as we walked up the hill again his pole dropped fast and hard. He had something big. We couldn’t walk away yet, now we were invested, and you could tell he was struggling.
We walked down to see what he was reeling in — a large carp about 18-24 in long. He started making his way to a lower area when all of a sudden, his other pole dropped and was climbing the wall. “YOU, YOU!” He shouted. I grabbed ahold of the pole before it went over; whatever was on the other end was huge! This was definitely the largest freshwater fish I’ve ever had on a line, and it did not want to be caught.
I took the gentlemen’s advice and made my way to where he was, not reeling it in, but keeping it from getting away. As I got to the wall, I heard the disappointment of him and Jon: he lost his first fish, but was determined to get the one I was holding onto. The man took the pole, and I was relieved. He took his time and pulled it up. From nose to tail it had to be 20-24 in long, and girthy to boot. He was happy, and you could tell he was feeding more than just himself. We had a good laugh, shook hands and gave him one of my Got Questions contact cards that he could get some Spanish translated material.
Ending the day
As we parted ways with the Charles family, Jon and I decided to check out another area. Not very many people were out, but we “talked shop,” ministry, and gave me some good ideas for PensAndWrenches.com. Even though we didn’t have the number of people we were aiming for, I wouldn’t call it a bust. There were some valuable lessons learned.
First, even if we just talked to one person it was a win. Maybe that one person was the one who’s life was going to be changed with the gospel, or someone else will read the tract and get saved. God works in ways we can’t even imagine. Sometimes He will use you to fish for men, and to fish with men. Also, it is what we do that matters too. If we would have walked away from “green-shirt” man, he would have lost a lot more than his fish. Prayerfully he will remember us when a Spanish-speaking Christian shares the gospel to him.
Second, I have to remember to have at least one Spanish tract on me. So many times, I’ve had these opportunities and neglected to be prepared. At the very least, I should have a website available in Spanish as a “go-to.” Got Questions is a fantastic ministry which has a plethora of languages through their international link. Spanish can be found here.
Lastly, when things look bleak, there are two things we should do: stop and pray. Seek wisdom, guidance, and the Lord to just bring people. The wisdom the Lord gave me about going toward water was excellent advice, and one that I will keep in my back pocket for the future. It is true — people throughout time were always drawn to water. As I’m typing this, I am reminded of the places where I have given some of the most tracts: The Des Moines River concert series, Gray’s Lake, Saylorville Dam, and so many more.
I hope you enjoyed hearing about our little adventure yesterday. Please consider subscribing to get the latest content to your inbox as we restore the lost and equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
Great story. You helped to “feed” some people in different ways.
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