Life-saving “Trash” Talk

by Ron Hutchcraft

evangelism, Jesus, faith conversationsIt was trash day in our neighborhood and my wife was on the lookout. More than once, I’ve had to stop the car because she saw something with “possibilities” in someone’s garbage. All I could see was some frowning neighbor who must have been looking at this guy raiding the trash.

But I learned not to complain. Because, time and again, she made something useful—even beautiful—out of what most people would consider junk.

I know Someone else like that. My Jesus. He has this amazing ability to recycle the garbage of our lives into something useful and beautiful. He calls it “a crown of beauty” from our “ashes” (Isa. 61:3).

In a world increasingly resistant to gospel “salesmen” and anyone pushing their beliefs, we “ambassadors” for Christ need a bridge. We need something that is human, and not “religious.” We need something that a lost person might care about—a bridge that begins where they are and ends at the cross of Jesus.

And that’s where the recycled garbage of your life and mine comes in. Your worst moments, most painful experiences, and greatest regrets become, in Jesus’ hands, something with supernatural power to open a heart.

I’ve seen it as Native American young people stand on a reservation basketball court and pour out the pain of their life. I’ve seen it as hardened “rez” kids suddenly become soft. When that sad story turns to a Hope Story about the difference Jesus makes, it goes straight to the heart.

I’ve seen it as high-powered marketplace winners open up about their scars and their failures.  Suddenly, men and women with highly-developed defenses are ready for some answers.  Specifically, they are ready for the Jesus who has forgiven and restored a broken person like them.

I’m experiencing that holy recycling even now, in the months following the most wrenching heartbreak of my life: the loss of my wife, who has been my best friend and greatest love of my life since I was 20. In a moment, she was gone.

But my Anchor holds, because I have found a Love that is death-proof. “Unloseable.” This is the one Person who loved me enough to die for me. The Bible says of this Love: “Nothing in all creation can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:39).

People are listening to my story of a peace that has withstood the Category 5 storm of my life.  Of a hope that makes heaven guaranteed and by the only One who Himself conquered death. The Bible says of Jesus that, “Whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

The worst thing that ever happened to me has become the most powerful platform I’ve ever had to talk about my Jesus.

Only a Savior like Jesus can take a loss like that and redeem it by making it life-giving to someone who’s lost. He is the Great Recycler.

Our ministry is all about using a wide variety of creative bridges to reach people—especially digital media and social networks.

But I believe the most powerful heart-opener is the most human medium of all: someone’s personal story.

People can argue with your beliefs, but they can’t argue with your story any more than the Pharisees could challenge the change in a man with an unarguable story:  “Once I was blind;  now I can see” (John 9:25).

Every believer has a story. It’s about the difference Jesus makes. We are the living proof that a parent can change, a marriage can change, an addiction can change, a temper can change, and a broken heart can change. Because of Jesus.

Communicating Jesus in a heart-hardened world is really all about three stories: your story. His story (and how His story changed your story, and how His story can change their story.

Jesus builds a bridge to heaven out of recycled garbage.

 

Ron Hutchcraft (@ronhutchcraft) is an international speaker, radio host, and bestselling author. As president of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries, Ron and his team specialize in developing, authentic, relevant, and creative tools to reach people with the message of Jesus. Ron’s closest partner in life and work, Karen, recently entered the presence of the Lord. Ron has three grown children and nine grandchildren.