About two months after I had reported to my first assignment in the United States Air Force, I met Dave. We lived in the same apartment complex and had many of the same interests. Dave was my first friend outside of work in Montgomery, Alabama. And he served as a gateway to other friends who shared out interests. Dave and I didn’t just share interests, we also shared many of the same views. But one area we differed was faith. I was a Christian, sure of my faith in Jesus Christ. Dave was still seeking, not settling on any one faith. While he had been exposed to Christianity as a kid, he didn’t really understand the Gospel message. When the opportunity presented itself, I talked to him about what I believed. I was able to share the Gospel with him.
Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness. Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. “Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” – Matthew 9:35-38, NASB
Dave was like these people. In many ways he was distressed and dispirited. It carried over into most of his relationships and certainly into his inability to hold a steady job. He was smart, he was a hard worker, and he was very personable. When you met Dave you tended to like him. But sooner or later the “stresses” of the job would get to him and he’d move on to something else. In the time I knew him he had several jobs, including helping to run a coffee shop and serving as a part of the setup crew for a company for conventions. It was the latter that was his last job and let to our last visit together.
Dave stopped by the apartment one evening and I remember I had made some beef stew, flavored with a little spice to give it a bit of heat. We hadn’t seen each other in months, as he had been on the road because of his job, setting up for the various conventions. Dave’s job didn’t pay well. He was barely surviving. But he had a book signed by an artist I really liked. Dave liked him, too, and had the opportunity to meet the guy at a convention and get his autograph. So I agreed to buy the book off of him and hold it for a while until he could afford to buy it back. So we shared some stew, talked about what was going on in life, looked at the book, and discussed faith. Dave was leaning towards some Buddhist principles and was looking at maybe studying more along the lines of the Shaolin monks. It gave me a chance to talk to him once more about the Gospel, something I had done several times during the course of our friendship, but he wasn’t disposed to accepting Christ at that time. It would be the last time I would see Dave.
I got word a little while later from a mutual friend that Dave had been killed in a car crash in Florida. When I heard I felt completely crushed. Because unless Dave had changed his heart in the couple of months between our last visit together and his death, I knew I would never see my friend again. I know that I took each opportunity I was given to share my faith with him, but Dave hadn’t accepted Christ. Without Christ there is no salvation. Even for my friend, Dave.
I didn’t want there to be another Dave in my life. It was Dave’s death that spurred me on to talk to another friend of mine, Jason, about his faith. And as I talked with Jason, I realized that this guy who had grown up his whole life in Montgomery, Alabama hadn’t had many people share the Gospel with him. How could this be when there churches all over the place? The truth of the matter is that many he knew to be Christians had never shared their faith with him. And I’m betting the same was true of Dave. This goes back to Jesus’ statement that “the harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few.” We are those workers. And many of us are not going into the fields like we need to do. We must do better. We must share our faith. We must ensure that every person in our lives has heard the Gospel. Ultimately, it is their choice on whether or not to accept Christ. But it is our calling to share our faith so that they would have a chance to make that choice and knowing what it means to accept or reject the Savior. There have been too many Daves. We need to do our utmost to prevent as many more as we can. We must share our faith.