A Real Barn Burner

When I was 16, one of my sister’s prized dolls went missing. It probably sounds strange to say that the doll went to hell, but it did. Sort of.

We had a “man cave” barn at my house: old couches, bean bags, ping pong tables, a bar, and a wood stove. It was the perfect place for pursuing my passion of telling my friends about Jesus. In the fall of 1972, I had about 85 high-school friends over for a party and, unbeknownst to them, to tell them all about Jesus.

After ice cream and root-beer floats (no alcohol at this bar), everyone gathered near the wood stove. I asked everyone to write their name on a slip of paper and place it in a shoebox. They may have expected a prize drawing of some sort, but they never would have suspected what was about to happen.

Here’s where the doll comes into play. I took my sister’s doll, drenched it with lighter fluid, and threw it into the Franklin stove…to explosive effect. With the doll’s immolation underway, I preached about hell. Then I took the shoebox—the one with all their names in it—and tossed it into the stove with the doll. “This,” I proclaimed, “is your future destiny without Christ.” Kids, don’t try this at home.

Looking back, I am surprised that several actually came to Christ as a result of my stunt; some are still pastors to this day! After four decades of growing up, I wouldn’t advocate for an evangelism strategy like this; I have grown more disciplined and caring in my approach.

One thing that I did get right in my moment of youthful zeal was obedience to the Great Commission: I felt a compelling urgency to reach my friends for Christ. I cared deeply about them and was desperate to share the Gospel with them.

Forty-five years later, I wonder: Where has that desperation gone? Have I become so sophisticated that I have lost that passion? Do I still have that same determination to reach people for Christ? The same sense of urgency?

The Word of God is clear, more clear even than my fiery illustration: life without a dependent faith in Jesus Christ will result in an eternity of separation from God. This truth must make us desperate to offer to the lost their only hope of salvation: a fireproof acceptance of Jesus Christ as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can reach our Heavenly Father except through Him!

You don’t need to destroy any kids’ toys to make this point. You only need your Bible, your voice, and a willingness to risk your reputation for the one who willingly gave up his own so that we might join Him in the presence of His (and our) Heavenly Father.

2 comments

  • Thank you for this article ! I struggle with this question all the time, Where has the desperation gone? Have I Lost My Passion? This is not only thought-provoking very convicting. Thank you again!

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