All he wanted was a double cheeseburger.
As Seth Peterson stopped at a red light in Norfolk, Virginia, he glanced over to see a teenager dancing on the side of the street. With a boombox hoisted over his shoulder, the young man performed a slick moonwalk as cars piled up at the four-way stop.
Peterson nearly missed his light while watching the scene—a rare form of entertainment during COVID-19.
“As I made the turn, I sensed the Lord saying, ‘I want you to turn around and go share with him,'” the 27-year-old youth pastor said.
But Peterson kept driving. As he went through a fast food chain drive-thru, he couldn’t shake the feeling he needed to talk with this young man. On his way back home, he prayed, “Okay Lord, if he’s still there, I’ll share.”
But the young man wasn’t at the intersection. Instead, as Peterson drove through his own neighborhood, he saw him once again—and realized they were actually neighbors.
“Hey man, awesome moves back there!” Peterson called out, rolling down his window.
The young man smiled and thanked him, and Peterson handed him a Billy Graham tract, known as Steps to Peace with God.
“What’s this?” the high school senior asked, introducing himself as James.
“It’s about how you can have the joy of the Lord,” responded Peterson, who’d printed several copies of these free tracts—in hopes of an opportunity like this one.
“When my big brother was with us, he would carry around this boombox. I do this in honor of him to spread joy with the strangers I meet,” James explained.
Peterson asked James if he could share with him about the joy of the Lord, the 18-year-old quickly agreed. As he explained the Good News, Peterson said he saw a look of excitement on the teen’s face.
“Wow, you mean all I have to do is confess my sins, put my faith in Him and God will freely give me His joy instead?” he asked.
“Yes, you’ve got it,” Peterson replied, and the teenager prayed for Christ to come into his life.
Afterward, James praised God and said, “I’m 100% sure I’m saved now!”
Reflecting on the conversation, Peterson said, “There’s no greater joy than to lead this young man who has faced such difficulty in His life, but also to see someone experience the joy of a new life which can only come from Christ.”
Going Beyond Church Doors
Peterson has shared the Gospel with people since he was a teenager, sometimes five or more times a week.
Each morning, he invites God to be a part of his day and prays for boldness to obey the Holy Spirit’s promptings.
With many church meetings still limited by COVID-19, the youth pastor hopes believers use this time to intentionally reach out to their neighbors.
“You can indicate you’re praying for them, care for them in some way or share the Gospel with them,” he suggested.
For years, Peterson has used Billy Graham tracts as an evangelistic tool at gas stations, diners and drive-thru’s. He also gives them to his students, and he encourages them to not toss tracts at people but, instead, spend time getting to know them.
Sometimes those Peterson talks to choose not to make a decision for Christ. But he has received texts from people who stumbled across the tract years later and decided to accept the Gospel.
“They’ll be people represented around throne of God that would not be there otherwise had they not come across the tract,” Peterson said.