What Josh McDowell provides in Evidence that Demands a Verdict is objective evidence.
But subjective evidence, although unverifiable, can be equally powerful.
Paul’s testimony of his conversion from persecutor and murderer to preacher in little more than a week in Acts 22 is a striking example of subjective evidence. I was no murderer, but my conversion, too, was sudden.
I am very grateful for the Christian home in which I was brought up, but by the age of thirty-four I had drifted far from God. An addicted smoker (forty a day), and hiding my loneliness through busyness, I was shocked when a doctor was not able to assure me that I did not have throat cancer. Further examination was needed.
I had been a schoolmaster at St Andrew’s College, Grahamstown, for some fourteen years. My senor Latin class comprised eight boys, four of whom called themselves committed Christians. They were delightful young men but I thought they were a bunch of “Holy Joes”, so I set out to annoy them…. When one of them lost his temper I crossed him off my list. But there was a boy called Hugh whom I couldn’t faze. He was totally unjudgmental. In retrospect I would say that he was full of the love of Jesus.
Unbeknown to me his father had been praying for me every night for three weeks.
It so happened that Hugh came to my study to borrow a book just before I was due to see the doctor.
“Will you please pray for me?”
He and another boy, Andrew, came to my study that night for an extra lesson. We didn’t do any Latin. I just poured out my heart to them, and they just listened. And listened.
At the end of the evening I said to them, “If you had mentioned God to me, I would have said, ‘There’s the door. Get out!’” But they didn’t. I was the one who said to Hugh, “Will you please say a prayer?” I thought he would say the Lord’s Prayer, because that’s how I had been taught to pray, but he didn’t. Instead he said: “Thank you, Jesus, that You’ve been here the whole time we’ve been talking.”
I was shocked. He talked to Him as if he knew Him.
Then it happened.
You know when you’re in a room, trying to sleep, and someone turns the light on? You can see the light with your eyes shut. But this was a man. He was standing behind my desk. I didn’t actually open my eyes but the sense of His light, warmth, presence and love was overwhelming.
I was shocked.
“So it’s true!” I thought. “Everything my parents told me is true!”
“You come and pray with me tomorrow,” I said to Hugh. I figured if Jesus arrived in the room when he prayed…. I was so glad to discover He was alive, and I didn’t want to lose Him.
That evening changed my life.
And when I asked Jesus to take away my desire to smoke, I went from forty cigarettes a day to none in three days with no withdrawal. That really got my attention.
You could call what I have written above evidence.
But I could be lying.
The question is – why would I want to?