The Tailgating “Born Again”

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A few weeks ago I decided to go witnessing during a University of Utah tailgate party across the street from the Rice-Eccles stadium. It was actually my first experience with tailgating.  Walking into the massive party by myself, with tracts and materials in hand, I struck up several conversations with various people and groups. I must say the heavy drinking threw me back to my college days. Not only had I forgotten what that atmosphere was like, I was seeing it through a whole new set of eyes as a Christian.  It was an interesting place for non-Mormons to gather since the LDS rarely drink. These lost people needed to hear the gospel. My job was to keep things friendly yet clear.

After an afternoon of great conversations and seed planting, the sun’s warmth was giving way to the cold fall air. I decided it was time to call it for the day. I had only four tracts left which I handed to four coeds on the way out. They had been drinking too and were about to go into the game…way late of course.  After a quick glance at the tract, the youngest of these four sorority sisters was drawn to me like a magnet saying, “Miss, Miss, I need to talk to you!”

Pulling me aside she said, “Miss, I have some questions to ask you.” I said, “Certainly, what’s up?” She came very close with her eyes searching mine asking, “Miss, are you a Christian?” I answered back, “Yes.”  “Miss, what kind of Christian are you?” I said, “A Bible believing, born again Christian.”  Aware of the drink in her hand, she was instantly convicted and said there was no way she could have a discussion with me until she set her stadium cup of alcohol down.  She told me she was sinning by drinking.  She seemed very lucid at the moment.

Coming close again she said, “Miss, I’m a born again Christian too. You are just like my mom who is also a born again Christian. My mother would love you. You and my mother would have lots to talk about.” Finding her partying a conspicuous contradiction with her confession, I quizzed her further.  She told me how her mother had taught her about the gospel, she was saved at the age of 14, she knew that Jesus was her Savior, and that she loved God. I asked more about her conversion. The details were vague. I asked about her religious upbringing to which she answered, “My mom and I are both Greek Orthodox.”  There was a check in my spirit.

I asked her what she thought it would take for her to go to heaven. What was she depending on to be right with God?  Was she depending on baptism, confession, or church authority?  She emphatically answered, “Miss, I know I am saved. I love what my mom tells me about God. I know that God exists. He has to exist. I love God with all my heart.” I asked her if she ever read her Bible to which she answered “no” because she was busy with school. I should have pointed out she was a freshman and had only been in college for two months.

Without catching her breath and still very close, and with a hint of desperation she said, “Miss, I have these friends that are good people. I know these friends of mine love God. Miss, I believe that God loves all those who love Him and these friends of mine love Jesus.”  Checking further I asked, “What religious traditions are they?”  She replied, “They’re Mormon and Muslim.”
Addressing her by name I said, “Helena, your Mormon friend believes Jesus was once a man who became a god and is the half-brother of Lucifer. And your Muslim friend believes in Allah who Islam says has no son. How can your friends love Jesus? They don’t even know who He is.”  Paraphrasing John 17:3 I said, “Helena, it is eternal life to know God and Jesus Christ. Your friends may say they believe in Jesus, but it’s not the Jesus of the Bible.  Do you see that?”

I explained that a false Jesus cannot forgive sins. Only the real Jesus of the Bible can do that. The question is which Jesus do they trust? I asked, “Do you want them to come to know the true Jesus? Do you believe that Jesus is the only way?  If morality is the way to heaven, then why did Jesus have to die? He asked His Father in the Garden of Gethsemane if there is any other way, to ‘let this cup pass from Me’ (Mt 26:42).  Being ‘good’ is saying there’s another way to heaven that bypasses Jesus.  Jesus Christ, the Son of God in the flesh, is the only One who paid for sins.  He died for all men’s sins.”

She continued, “But Miss, I am in a class here at the university. The professor wrote the word ‘Christian’ on the board and listed the traits of a Christian underneath it. Then the professor erased the word ‘Christian’ and substituted ‘Muslim’ then ‘Mormon’ in its place.  Miss, why can’t these other religions know Jesus the way we do?” I explained it was moral characteristics that were listed on the board rather than distinctives about Jesus and the gospel. I said, “It’s not morality that saves a person because no one is good enough. It’s about coming to God through the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross to have our sins removed.” That demonstration on the board was designed to make it seem like all religions worship the same God.

Continuing on I said, “Helena, let me ask if you have ever lied, stolen, lusted, coveted, dishonored your parents, been angry without cause, used God’s name in vain, or worshipped other gods?  Do you understand that you’re a sinner?”  She said, “Yes, I do.”  I said, “Helena, do you realize that you’re going to stand before God one day and that if your sins aren’t cleansed away you will be judged by your deeds?  If that happens you will not go to heaven to be with Jesus, but will go to hell and be under the wrath of God for all eternity?” Her gaze fixed on me. I said, “Rather than assume your friends are saved for naming the name ‘Jesus,’ they need to know how to be saved by the true Jesus.”

By this point, I had serious doubts that she was truly a born again believer.  I asked her, “Helena, how does a person get to heaven?”  Drawing close enough that I could feel her breath she said, “Miss, how does a person get to heaven?” I said, “Helena, a born again believer knows the way to heaven.” With urgency I asked again, “Helena, how does a person get to heaven? How do they have their sins removed?”  Still very close she answered, “Miss, how does a person have their sins removed?”  I said, “How do they?”  She asked, “That’s my question, how?”

I said, “Helena, a born again Christian knows they were saved by placing their faith in the death and blood of Jesus Christ to wash away their sins. Helena, have you repented of your sins and trusted in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of those sins?” She said, “Miss, I like to smoke marijuana. I know it’s wrong, but I like it and I don’t want to give it up.”  God was pricking her conscience yet her answer suggested she wanted her sin more than turning to God in repentance and faith.  I said, “Helena, here is a book and some materials for your search. Sin offends God but He loves you so much that He paid for your sins.  He’ll forgive you and give you a new life that doesn’t need drugs.  Will you come to Him?”

At that point, her countenance changed. She took my number and asked if I was willing to speak to her Greek Orthodox relatives and friends.  I’m hoping she’ll call.  At the beginning of our encounter, she nearly convinced me by her earnestness and professed love for Jesus that she was a born again believer, but in the end, she revealed that she was unwilling to come to God in faith and didn’t know the way of salvation at all.  Thankfully she’s now heard the gospel and has some real thinking ahead of her.

  1. Heath says:

    Beautiful account. You have encouraged me today. During my witnessing accounts, I too have learned that with some additional probing questions to those who make a quick statement of a love for God and Christ we all too often learn that they have been deceived by our enemy in believing they have a relationship with God. I pray your account helps draw other brothers and sisters to know to probe a bit prior to moving on when someone professes to know and love God.

  2. Brenda says:

    Hi Heath,
    Thanks so much for your comments that encourage me as well! It’s good to know that we’re not alone in discovering people who are just making a profession. We aren’t being faithful witnesses if we don’t make sure others are indeed saved as they claim. The trick is not to discourage them in the process. Thanks for your prayers as well and I pray God continues to use you in reaching many who want to hear the good news of Christ and true salvation!
    Many Blessings,

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