Overcoming Obstacles

How 4 students overcame indifference, anger, noise and darkness to tell others about Jesus' love and forgiveness.

Rich Atkinson
Photo courtesy Tommy Waters

One bright lamp lit up the boardwalk. For Mike Oriundo, a New Jersey-native and his 3 friends it looked like the perfect place to talk with people about Jesus. But as soon as they decided to stop there, the light turned off.

After a night of disappointment, Mike had had enough. He walked away from his friends.

“I just lost it,” says Mike. “I started crying.”

A Christian for less than a year, he was frustrated by what had transpired that Tuesday night.

Their night started with a scavenger hunt sponsored by Cru. They were given tasks to help initiate spiritual conversations with non-Christians.

Mike, a junior at Rutgers University, says, “As soon as you mentioned Christ, people either didn’t want to talk or they argued with you.”

After 3 or 4 discouraging conversations, the Criminal Justice and Spanish major pulled his friends aside. “This isn’t working,” Mike said. “We are focusing on the scavenger hunt and not our main objective -- talking to people about Christ

It was relatively quiet when they stopped and prayed. But as they started, a man came out with his boombox blasting loud music around them like he was trying to keep them from praying. 

Afterward they walked toward the restaurants and boardwalk. All the restaurants, people and bright lights were to their left, but Mike suggested they go right.

That’s when they stopped under the bright light and it immediately went out. And that’s when Mike walked away.

They all decided to pray again. For another 10 minutes, they sat in the dark and prayed.

Mike calmed down and agreed to try again. “The minute I said yeah, let’s do it, the light comes back on,” he says. “We needed to talk with somebody.”

When they saw a group of 4 high school students -- two boys and two girls -- they approached them. Andrew Shem did most of the talking because Mike was still trying to collect himself. Andrew asked them about their experience with Christianity.

He explained Christianity by using the Would You Like to Know God Personally? booklet. Mike pulled out a piece of paper and drew a picture to explain sin.

About 15 minutes later, they asked the students about what they had heard. “Is this something that you want to believe in?”

“Yes,” they said.

Mike was in utter disbelief. Normally unexpressive, Andrew had the biggest smile on his face.

While circling up and holding hands, they prayed with all 4 of them. The students prayed and indicated they had placed their faith in Christ.

“It was the perfect 4 people to come and talk with us,” says Mike.

Prayer changes circumstances. God changes people to believe.

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