Sunday, April 30, 2017

Paintball and Evangelism

Whizz.  Pop. Smack. Splat. I crawled through the dry grass on my belly, forearms crushing thistle, knees pressing me forward.  When the coast was clear, I jumped to my feet, ran and hid behind a large blue barrel. Sneaking my gun around the plastic edge, I drew a bead on the fort and fired rapid shots before withdrawing, my knuckle purple with paint, red with blood. A wince must have crossed my face, but I was more determined than ever to make it worthwhile and capture the small white flag waving up the hill. My teammates drew fire, I leaped over the fence, grabbed the pole and ran. We won. That game.

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Paintball: Slow. Fast. Furious. Painful.

My husband invited me to join him and our son a few years ago while during family camp one summer. I balked. Made excuses. Gave in. Now it's one of my favorite things to do.

You can leave a comment or refuse to read further based on your feelings about firearms and the game itself. But you would never guess that my motivation and take-away is evangelism.

If you are anti-weapon, I am not here to win you over. To my Wyoming native way of thinking, paintball is long-range "tag-you're-out." As one of few women who plays the game with young people and fun-loving family men, my goal is to win--whether it means capturing people, a chest of gold or the flag from the fort. Paintballs travel farther and faster than this old body--so the game's easier and more fun than old-fashioned tag. The  danger is superficial and temporary: a welt, bruise, or bloody knuckle.

"This is like evangelism," crept to mind as I hid behind a tree and considered the cost of rushing the offense. I stood sideways, heart thumping, chest tight. Was I willing to suffer? Yes. What was my objective? To work with the team. Had I thought it through and considered the opposition? Yes. Did I have a plan? Yes. Was I willing to pay the price of rushing the enemy? Absolutely.

As crazy as it sounds, a person I dearly love and have been praying for often comes to my mind as I wait for the game to begin or crawl from pillar to tree. That is what I'm after as I play this silly, intense game. And as I pray for them I ask, "Am I willing to suffer their insults, indignation or rejection?" Yes. "Do I have an objective?" Yes, to win them for Christ. "Have I thought it through and considered my options?"  Yes, share the gospel of Jesus and show His love or risk their eternity. "Do I have a plan?"  Yes.  Am I willing to suffer the consequences? You betcha.

I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. In sharing Christ with others, by stepping out in faith and love, I risk comfort, reputation, approval--superficial and temporary--that I may gain Christ.

“Therefore do not fear them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.

“Therefore everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 10:26-33)


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