Mike Barko's blog post recounts an encounter at a Walmart in Dayton, Virginia. He met a couple, Debbie and William, and engaged them in a conversation about salvation. William was initially uncertain about salvation, believing it required more than faith in Jesus. Mike graciously shared the gospel, helping William grasp salvation through faith in Christ alone. Mike then reflects on his own internal struggle to share the gospel due to fear of rejection. He's inspired by the Apostle Paul's commitment to sharing the message of God's grace. The post concludes with Mike choosing to share the gospel with a man named Cooper during a rainstorm. Cooper listens attentively, and Mike guides him to understand salvation through faith in Jesus. In summary, Mike's post highlights a meaningful encounter, his internal battle, and the importance of sharing the gospel with love and compassion.


Mike Barko

9/2/20198 min read



Here is a story that happened recently at the Dayton, Va Walmart.

As I walked in, a gentleman greeted me. He recognized me as the guy who holds the cross. His wife was there with him. We conversed some and then I offered both of them a bracelet.

Debbie was initially 100% sure of salvation. William was not sure. He told me that 'he believed in Jesus'. So, I asked, "Is that enough?" He gave the answer I expected, "No, you also have to pray, read the bible, go to church...etc"

William gave me permission and I shared the gospel with him. By God's grace, I was able to help him become 100% sure because of Christ alone. Whether this was the first time he really understood, or whether he was mired in the book of Galatians, I do not know. It was just good to help him.

We spent some time fellowshipping, and then afterwards, I did my shopping. As I approached the exit, it was raining cats and dogs. In fact, it was such a torrential downpour, there were quite a few people gathered in front of the exit, waiting for the rain to stop.

I had a decision to make. Should I just go through the rain? It was really pouring, and I knew that I would get wet. However, the alternative was not something that I was comfortable with.

Some may look at me as the 'superman' of gospel sharers. In fact, a dear brother in the Lord gave that name to me about a month ago. When I shared my struggle with him, he told me that more people needed to know.

So here goes. There are times that I really don't enjoy sharing the gospel. Yes, it is beautiful when someone responds and places their faith in Christ. That definitely motivates me to continue doing what I do.

By God's grace, I will continue sharing the gospel. However, there is a part of me that doesn't want rejection. There is a part of me that doesn't want to rock the boat. There is a part of me that wants to fit in. I have seen the faces of some people as they express their displeasure at what I do.

The resistance can really wear you out. It can make you want to 'shut up'. By the grace of God I will not. I like what the Apostle Paul said...

"But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I may finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)

So, should I just make a run for it? (The best way I could with my back pain through the rain) Or, should I see if there is an opportunity for me to share the gospel?

You know, God's love for me is the same, whether I share or whether I turn tail and run. My standing is secure in the righteousness of Jesus Christ. I am so thankful for that. My performance cannot alter that.

It is in that place of freedom that I am motivated to share. So, I looked around at the crowd. There were quite a few people in groups. That presents a challenge. I decided just to head for the exit...

Then I saw him. A gentleman right outside the door, underneath the overhang, sheltered from the rain. I thought, "Should I, or shouldn't I?"

My flesh did not want to. Rejection. I don't like that. My Spirit said, "Just say hi, and then see what happens."

So, I stepped outside and said 'hi'. Yes, he said 'hi' back. He hadn't screamed at me and taken my head off. At least not yet...

His name was Cooper. He worked for the Sheriff's department for the last two years. He is from Seneca Rocks, West Virginia and he graduated from a local high school, Turner Ashby.

The rain actually let up quite a bit. Part of me wanted to make a dash for it and just be done with the whole thing. Nobody would ever know, and then at least I wouldn't offend the poor guy.

Well, he didn't seem in a hurry to leave. When he mentioned that he worked for the Sheriff's department, I asked him if he had ever seen me with these bracelets in front of the courthouse sharing the message. I pulled one out.

I honestly can't remember what he said. Maybe I was nervous. I think he said that he had seen me. Then it was very natural, "Would you like one of my bracelets?"

'No, thank you. I would probably lose it or break it.'

Now, there is an EEYORE inside of me that says, "Oh well, you tried. Now don't force it. Let it go. Now you can leave."

Then I stopped and said to myself, "Wait a minute. He did not say no to the message, he said no to the bracelet for a valid reason."

You see, the unbelief inside of Mike Barko will presume upon certain answers and run with them..."You see, he's not interested. Don't bother him. Let it go."

No. Give him the benefit of the doubt. Stop assuming that people are not really interested. Of all the people who should not assume that, it is you. You are the one who has seen so many people interested.

My flesh does not want to share and will always look for a way out. I am thankful this time that I responded in faith...

"Well, would you like to hear the message?"


Imagine that. He really wants to hear. And, he definitely knows what this is about. He hasn't yelled at me or eaten me yet...not yet at least.

So, I asked him our diagnostic question..."O-100, how sure are you that you would go to Heaven?"...'80%'


'I try to help people'.

So, I said to him, "Based on your answer, I have some really good news for you that will help you become 100% sure. Would you like to hear?"

'Yes I would'.

It is interesting. At each point, I am waiting for him to yell at me, or get upset, or bite my head off. Never happened. Imagine that. People are much more interested to hear than I desire to share.

So, we talked about five of the commandments. I made sure that each time I prefaced with, "I have done this many times, have you?"

Cooper acknowledged every single one...(Liar, thief, adulterer, murderer, blasphemer) No resistance. A humble young man.

I let him know that I was telling him these things because I loved him. I didn't want him to stand before God and find these truths out when it would be too late.

So, I said, "Let's go to a courtroom. God is your judge, and you are on trial right now. Would you be innocent or guilty?"


"Do you know the penalty?"


"Does that concern you?"

'Yes, definitely.'

This young man was receiving the truth step by step as I shared with him. My head was still in tact. I continue to be amazed at how people respond. They really do want to hear.

So, I went back to his first answer, 'I help people.' Standing before God as a guilty criminal, would that justify Cooper in the eyes of his judge?

He got the point. 'No.'

"So I said, 'Let's figure out how you can be justified before God so you don't have to go to Hell."

I was right there with Cooper, and really wanted him to be justified before God.

He mentioned two things...

"Learn from my mistakes, correct them, and do better. Also ask forgiveness."

All I did was take that argument into the courtroom again. What would a just judge say to any criminal with that argument? Would he let the person go? No.

Are those good things? Sure. But, do those things justify the person in the eyes of God? No.

Cooper understood. So, I asked him again...

"Is there anything you can do in the courtroom to be justified with God?"


Excellent. I explained to Cooper that God wanted to save him. However, as long as Cooper was trying to save himself, God could not save him. Step one was Cooper recognizing there was nothing he could do to save himself.

So, I asked him, "Are you the Savior?"...


"Who is?"


"What did He do for you so He could save you?"

'Died for me on the cross.'

Most people know this. However, they don't know how it relates to the courtroom and them being justified. They also don't understand how they are trusting in the wrong thing to be justified...'I try to help people'.

So, I shared the divinity of Christ..."God became a man. His name is Jesus. 100% God. 100% man."

Then I explained how he lived the perfect life, and at the end of his life sat in Cooper's electric chair. Judgment was satisfied. The one who demanded justice had provided the necessary payment...spiritual death.

I explained, "Cooper if you place all of your trust in God, then God will not judge you for any of your sins when you stand before Him one day...for He was already judged for your sins."

"However, if you don't trust in God, then He will judge you for your sins, for you were trusting in yourself."

I mentioned that the blood had paid for his sins and that the resurrection receipt said, "Paid-in-full."

Now, the moment of truth. I asked him, "Cooper, if you placed all of your trust in God, then how sure would you be of going to Heaven?"


"And why?"

'Because I trust in God. He died for me.'

"Good. And if you trust in yourself, what happens to you?"

'Not good. I don't make it.'

"Yes, do you remember what you told me when we started as the reason God would let you into Heaven?"

'Yes, because I help people.'

"So, if you said that to God on judgment day, what would he say?"

'You're not getting in.'

"Cooper, I have a wonderful invitation for you. Would you like to repent, that is change your mind, and stop trusting in your self and place all of your trust in God?"

'Yes, I would.'

I made sure that he understood that Christ was God, and then I led him in a prayer of repentance, transferring his trust to God alone...

Afterwards Cooper told me that God had saved him and that he was now 100% sure because he was trusting in God.


I hadn't got yelled at yet and I hadn't been eaten either. In fact, do you know about this time the rain began to stop. And, the most beautiful rainbow came out. I really wish I had gotten a picture. It was really large and clear.

I then asked Cooper how his heart would feel towards me if I had gotten executed in his place and he was set free.

'Grateful and sad'.

But, if I had risen from the grave, then he would not have to feel sad anymore.

Would he love me?...'Yes'.

Would he want to live for me?...'Yes'

Would he honor me and want to serve me?...'Yes'

I explained that there was nothing Cooper could ever do to be saved in God's eyes. That had already happened. However, if he was really thankful for what God had done, then he had the rest of his life to show God exactly how thankful he was.

I am thankful too. I am most thankful that if I had not shared with Cooper and given in to my flesh, God's love for me would have been the same. I am thankful that the times I do miss the 'Coopers', God's love for me is the same.

I am thankful that I am perfectly free to share the gospel, or, to tuck tail and run. However, it is from that place of freedom, and from that place of having failed many times...

that I am motivated to continue sharing the gospel...

one person at a time.