A guest post by Jason Vera.
The week the college team spent with Tom Short was full of blessings. Every day was a new day, where my only goal was to spread the good news of Christ to everyone I spoke to. In the beginning, I did not know what to expect. I had heard a lot of crazy stories and awesome things that God had done with Tom and his ministry beforehand but it was hard to imagine what that would really be like. The first day I spent listening and working with Tom set the stage for the rest of the week. On the first day, Monday, we were all eager for Tom to kick things off. After everything was all set, everyone dispersed into the surrounding area and mixed in with the people that were lounging outside the MU and left Tom all alone on his stool. He sat in a large walkway where there is a lot of traffic and began speaking and it struck me how his voice projected throughout the whole area. He began by saying that it was time for ASU to listen up. Within 15 minutes, maybe even 10, Tom had drawn out someone to speak and argue with him over the existence of God. Their discussion quickly drew a sizable crowd. It was incredible to see how God brought everything we needed together in the form of the heckler and the crowd. This created the perfect environment for the rest of us to begin.
As Tom continued to loudly debate and argue the heckler(s) (more of them joined in after a while) and the crowd grew, we all began to ‘work’ the crowd. Maddie, who was with me the whole time, went and began speaking with people to my right and I began speaking with the guy in front of me. This particular guy I spoke to for the better part of an hour and had a great discussion. He is agnostic and has no doubt in his mind that the universe has a creator. He could not, however, accept the Christian God mostly on account of all the horrible things that he commanded and similar things found in the Bible. We went through every single problem he had with God and the Bible and I showed him how it all pointed to Christ. It was incredible to see his willingness to listen to me when I responded to his questions. Although he did not accept Christ, it was apparent that he had begun to see things differently than he had before.
That was essentially the story of all my conversations throughout the week. In every conversation I had, it amazed me how easy and how well I could answer everyone’s questions and explain the Gospel and Bible to them. I spoke to atheists, Muslims, agnostics, and all sorts of different people each day Tom was out there preaching, and they ALL listened. That was the story for many of us working that week. In all the conversations I had, I was never stumped, or stuck, or unable to explain my faith.
I can only praise God for that and say that the Spirit was working in all of us and preparing the hearts of the unbelievers for the honor and the glory of Him.
Tom himself had great talks with everyone who spoke up to him. God certainly was using Tom in a powerful way. The last day, literally as Tom began speaking, there immediately came a heckler that drew a big crowd. At one point Tom was surrounded by a crowd of predominantly Muslims as he went through the Bible and the Gospel with them. Without fail Tom drew people to him as he was very approachable and not too aggressive. Crowds came to him easily, and at one point he was asked to move from his spot because the crowd was disrupting the huge walkway he was speaking on. Everyone knew that Tom was different. He wasn't like usual campus preachers that come on campus that offend, condemn, and yell at people. Everyone agreed that Tom actually was genuine, and simply had a loud conversation with you and discussed the ideas of whoever was willing to bring them forth.
By the will of God, Tom came at the perfect time for the Desert’s End Student group. It was right after our flagstaff retreat and it helped keep our spiritual momentum going. That week with Tom was incredible, not only because Tom is an awesome influential person, but because we were all actively seeing God work in not just the people we all talked to, but also in our own lives and in the group as a whole. During the dinners with Tom, our college team asked him and his crew so many questions about what God had done in their lives and it was truly incredible to hear their stories. Tom has so much experience doing what he does and his crew is learning so much and tasting all the wonders that God is doing in their lives. Every member of Tom’s crew has amazing testimonies and it was just brilliant to be a part of what God was doing with these people.
That entire week was a week of running after God.
I couldn't stand being apart from where Tom was speaking because all I wanted to do was share the Good News with the people around me. It’s a contagious feeling that spread throughout the college group and is still going. Our group has even increased in size as new people have come from hearing Tom speak and talking with us. It is evident that God is working in us right now and all I want to do is continue to delight in the Lord and what he is doing.
So what was it like having Tom around, interacting and working with him? It was hard, it was tiring. I only ate once a day, I left class early, it was scary and exciting, but above all, it was simply amazing serving the Lord and sharing the Gospel all that week.