In The Parking Lot...

In The Parking Lot...

Mike Barko candidly reflects on his moments of hesitancy and growth in responding to the promptings of the Lord to share the gospel. Barko humorously contemplates how his frequent "no" responses to God's calls could have made him rich if he had a nickel for each one. He introduces the impact of a dear friend, Dwight Miller, on his journey of spreading the gospel, recounting instances of meaningful interactions that challenged his perspective on evangelism. Barko candidly shares encounters where he overcame his reluctance, describing a chance encounter at a grocery store parking lot that led to an unexpected and profound gospel conversation with a young couple, Kyra and Tarius. Through his storytelling, he highlights the transformation that can occur when individuals shift from relying on their own efforts to recognizing their need for God's grace and salvation through Christ. Barko's narrative serves as a reminder of the importance of seizing opportunities to share the gospel, even in unconventional settings.


Mike Barko

10/31/202012 min read

If I had a nickel for every time I said 'no' to the Lord when He prompted me to share the gospel I would be a rich man. I am glad that the Lord's delight is with the poor. LOL

Several months ago a dear friend named Dwight Miller began working with the ministry. We have had many classroom gospel training sessions as well as on the street lab lessons.

Since that time, Dwight has been able to lead several to the Lord. One of these was a young man named Michael. Just a few weeks ago this young man was killed in a car accident. Thank you Dwight. Thank you Jesus.

Last Tuesday in the grocery store parking lot, I was on the phone with Dwight. Earlier in the day he had driven past someone on the road. The Holy Spirit had prompted him to turn around and go back to share the gospel with him. Dwight was obedient.

As he was sharing this with me, I was thinking about two opportunities at the gym earlier in the day that I had let slip by. I am reminded of Hebrews 10:24...

'And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works.'

Thank you for the provocation Dwight.

After doing my shopping, as I was leaving the parking lot, I noticed a young lady in the driver's seat of her car. I sensed that I should share the gospel with her. I thought about it as I was driving away.

I thought about it some more as I drove further away. Now I happened to be on the phone with another dear friend Rob Gilmer. I wanted to talk with my friend and did not want to turn around.

'Okay, I'll turn around.'

When I arrived back next to her car I noticed a young man in the passenger seat. Now there were two. I only wanted to share with one. Sharing with one is easier than sharing with two.

...'There's two, not one. I came back with the intention of just sharing with one.'

'(DEEP SIGH)...Okay, I'll share.'

I actually left my phone in the car figuring I would be back in an instant. After all, who wants to listen to a complete stranger share the gospel with them in the times that we live in today?

'After all, who wants to listen to a complete stranger share the gospel with them in the times that we live in today?'

How many times have I shared the gospel? You would think that I would have learned by now. No, the flesh is tenacious and relentless.

Also, is it really wise to walk up to a complete stranger in a car and share the gospel with them?

I approached the car expecting rejection at best and a .357 magnum at worst...

"Would you guys like a free bracelet?"


Taken aback, I almost corrected them...'Are you sure?'

I continued..."May I share the colors with you?"


I was stunned and humbled.




I have experienced this over and over again. How many times have I asked people the initial questions expecting rejection. How many times have these same people expressed an earnest desire to hear how they can go to Heaven.

I guess the whole rejection thing is deep seated in all of us. Ten people can eagerly comply with only one getting upset and we end up in a tissy. Phooey on my flesh. Dead men don't fear rejection.

I need to remind myself more of something that evangelist Ray Comfort said. Imagine standing outside of a burning building. The first floor is on fire. People on the third floor are completely unaware of it. Hold down my voice because I don't want to offend anybody? Don't bother them because they might not want to hear it? Don't say anything because it would be socially awkward?


Atheist comedian Penn Gillette says he doesn't respect Christians who don't proselytize. He said something like, "If you believe in a place called Heaven and eternal life is possible, and Hell is also real and people could be going there, how much do you have to hate someone not to tell them?"

He continues (paraphrased), 'If I see a truck coming at you at 60 mph and you don't see it, at some point I tackle you, and this is even more important than that. To refrain from speaking because it is socially awkward doesn't make sense.'

Back to the story...

Kyra and Tarius were brother and sister. As part of my initial connection I found out that Tarius enjoys photography and watching football.

Both didn't know where they would go if they were to die. Tarius spoke up, 'I used to do a lot of bad, but now I am doing good.' Kyra echoed the same thing.

Here is a sincere young man who is trying to live right. He knows he was wrong in the past, and is attempting to 'right the ship'.

So many people are right here. So many of these same people go to church every Sunday but have never trusted in Christ as their Savior. These people are hoping that when they stand before God He will weigh them in the balance and they will get in because their good outweighed their bad.

These are sincere people who just need to hear the simple gospel truth. When they hear it, they want to receive it. They have in a sense already 'repented for their sins.' They just need to 'repent for their good works' and trust in Christ alone.

Did they measure up? In other words, did their good outweigh their bad? Were they good enough? Did they want to know?...'YES'

This is a great transition into the gospel. You meet someone where they are...'hoping their good will outweigh their bad' and then you take them to a test to see if they will measure up. Better to find out now so if they fail they can make the necessary corrections. When they stand before the Lord it will be too late for that.

You and I know that no one is good enough, no one measures up. However, instead of telling them this, we show them.

So we took the test together. We go to the law, the ten commandments and we go through five of them.

I confessed to lying. Had they? Sure, who hasn't. What does that make us?...'liars'

How about stealing something? Like many people, at first the answer was 'no'. Dig a little bit. Ever take two minutes too long on a break or leave work two minutes early? I got them on that one. lol What did that make us?...'thieves'

Ever look with lust? Right, who hasn't? If you say no, you are a liar. At first there was a little confusion about what I meant by this, but when I clarified both readily admitted to lusting. What did that make us?...'adulterers'

Ever hate someone? Sure we all have. In today's politically correct climate many don't want to admit to this, but yes we have all hated. Both admitted to this as well. What did that make us?...'murderers'. "Anyone who hates another is a murderer." (1 John 3:15)

Tarius spoke up, "We're not doing to well are we? We're failing." We all laughed together.

Both, like me, had used the Lord's name in vain...OMG. What did that make us?...'blasphemers.'

At this point I thanked them for their patience and humility with me and I reviewed each of the five with them...'liars, thieves, adulterers, murderers, blasphemers.'

Did they measure up or fall short?...'fall short' Just like the rest of us. Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone." (Mark 10:18)

How could they measure up? I invited them to go with me to a courtroom and there I would show them how they could measure up.

With the aforementioned record, in God's courtroom, would they be 'innocent or guilty?'...'guilty'. Did they know the penalty?...'hell'. Did they understand where they would go if they were to die right now?...'hell'. Did that concern them?...'yes'.

We now bring a visual into the courtroom to bring more understanding to the situation...'an electric chair'. If God gave them justice, they would be in the chair and they would go to Hell. Me too.

"What would keep them from the chair?" (This question lets us know what they are going to trust in to be innocent with God.)

They spoke up, "We'll be honest." (They are trying to 'right their wrongs' and 'do better'. Since they know they are guilty for lying, they now want to 'be honest'. Is 'being honest' good? Sure. Does it keep us from the electric chair? No.)

Use the mirror illustration. Ever play in the mud as a child? What did the mirror tell you?...'dirty'. How did you get clean?...'water'. Did you ever try to clean yourself with the mirror?...'certainly not.' What would that look like?...'silly'.

The ten commandments are a mirror. They are not designed to clean us. They are designed to show us that we are dirty. So many people are wrongly relying upon the mirror for justification and cleansing.

"Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin." (Romans 3:19,20)

Why do people rely upon the law (mirror) for justification? It is our inherent pride which wants to believe that we can do something to justify ourselves.

"But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offense: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed." (Romans 9:31-33)

Christ is 'a stumblingstone and rock of offense' to our human pride which wrongly believes that we can do something to be saved.

After I explained the mirror illustration to Kyra and Tarius I asked them the question again...

"What is going to clean you / keep you from the chair?"

'Start doing the right thing.'

They are back to relying on the mirror again. This self-justification thing goes on and on and on. It is incessant and deeply rooted within us. That is why people don't need primarily to 'repent for their sins'. They need to 'repent for their good works'.

"...not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God." (Hebrews 6:1 part)

The foundation of our salvation is repentance from dead works and faith toward God. To truly repent from dead works, a person has to be convinced that there is absolutely nothing they can do to be saved. NOTHING.

This is true repentance. We have nothing to offer God of our own accord which commends us to Him. 'Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to the cross I cling.'

Even the prodigal son struggled with this. When he came back to the Father he had already left the pigpen of his sin. But, when he got home he said...

"Father I have sinned against Heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants." (Luke 15:18,19)

In other words, he had left his sin, but now he wants to work his way back into the Father's favor. He needed to repent from his dead works, those works he is relying on to be justified with the Father.

Back to Kyra and Tarius...

So, after explaining that they were still relying on the mirror by saying 'start doing the right thing', I asked the question again...

"What can you do to stay out of the chair / be clean?"

'Ask forgiveness.'

This is better than them trying to do something, but it is still not relying upon Christ. It is sort of in-between the two.

Use the speeding ticket illustration. Yes, one of them had gotten a speeding ticket with a fine of $155. Saying 'please forgive me' to the judge, but not paying the fine? Sorry, won't work.

God's fine?...'spiritual death'.

How is that going to get paid? I told them, "If you pay it, you pay it in Hell. That won't work for you. How is it going to get paid so you don't have to sit in the chair and go to Hell?"

'There's nothing we can do.'




"O wretched man that I am!" (Romans 7:24 part)

Paul cried out, 'THERE'S NOTHING I CAN DO!'

To some degree, this couple was saying the same thing...


Watchman Nee says there is nothing more musical in the ears of the Lord than for Him to hear this cry from one of us.

For emphasis I told them, "What can a guilty murderer do to get out of what he deserves?"


At this point, Kyra and Tairus saw that they had been relying on themselves as savior instead of relying upon Christ as Savior. Their minds were beginning to change.

Now that they understood they couldn't save themselves, who were they to rely on?

They knew that it was Jesus and they knew that it was He who had died for them.

Did they know who Jesus was? Remember, understanding the person of Christ is half of the person's salvation.

Like many people, they knew that Jesus was the Son of God, but when asked if He was God, they said 'no'.

Simply share the Trinity with people: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

On the second time around they confessed that Jesus is indeed God, God the Son.

So, who was it that sat in their electric chair?...


Who was it that took their judgment?...


Who was it that paid their 'spiritual death fine' on the cross?...


As a test, I sometimes ask...

"Is that enough?"

They replied, 'Enough for what?'

I said, "To save you."

They replied, 'Yes.'

For God to save them, they needed to lay down any works they were trusting in, and instead, only trust in the work of Christ. If they lifted up their works as the basis for their justification, God would point out all of their sins and they would go to Hell. However, if they humbled themselves recognizing there was nothing they could do to save themselves, and only trusted in Christ, then God would justify them on that basis alone.

If I paid their $155 speeding ticket, on what basis would the judge let them go?

Because they 'did more good than bad', a.k.a. they didn't speed on 364 days and only sped on one day?...'no'.

Because they promised to 'do the right thing' and not speed again?...'no'.

Because they said, 'please forgive me?'...'no'.


What little white piece of paper could the judge give them as proof that I had paid their fine?...'a receipt.'

After Christ died, what happened three days later?...'he rose'. That is the resurrection receipt and it shouts...


What was Tairus and Kyra's favorite dessert?...'chocolate ice cream.' If I bought that for them, and they tried to pay the cashier again, what would they be saying about my payment?...'not enough.'

Tarius and Kyra were understanding the gospel. If they put all of their trust in God, how sure would they be that they would go to Heaven?...'100%'

If they trusted in themselves, where would they go?...'hell'.

Who were they trusting when we started?...'themselves.'

Who was their savior?...'themselves'.

So, I asked them...



So we prayed. Afterwards, I asked them...

"What did God just do for you?"


"Why did He forgive you?"


I shared John 6:47, 'Whoever believes in Me has eternal life.'

"What do you have?"...'eternal life'.

"When do you have it?"...'STARTING TODAY.'

I explained the two-coat story to them. If we had a coat, and every time we sinned we put a mark on it, what would our coat look like?...'marked up'.

What does His coat look like?...'clean'.

"Christ didn't have any sin, but God made Him to become sin for us..."

What did God do with their marked up coat?...'put it on Him at the cross.'

Who became sin for them at the cross?...'God.'

Who was already judged guilty for all of their sin?...'God.'

Did they have to be judged guilty for their sins?...'no'

Why not?...'God was already judged guilty for them.'

Who gets the pure coat?...'we do.'

"So now God sees us as righteous, because we are in Christ."

Who is 'good' now?...'we are.'

Who measures up now?...'we do'.



I continued...

"Did He deserve the chair, or did you deserve the chair?"...'we did'. "How does your heart feel towards Him, knowing that He did that for you?"...'thankful and grateful'.

"Great. With that thankful heart, you live for Him. He died for you, now you live for Him. Anyone in your life that would be happy to hear that you put your trust in God today?...'grandmother' "Tell her."

They already had a bible to read and they had a church to attend.

We closed with prayer. I prayed for them, and then I asked them to tell God what was on their heart...



Because I had wrongly believed this was going to be over in a moment, I had left my phone back in my car. I asked them if I could get it and return so we could get a selfie...'yes'.

When I came back, they were both standing outside their car, ready for the picture. That really blessed me.


"Anything you want to share with me before I go?"