One Special Encounter...

One Special Encounter...

Mike Barko shares the remarkable journey of sharing the Gospel in unexpected ways over the past two weeks. His efforts have yielded 39 professions of faith downtown, 24 at J.M.U., and 4 through cross-holding sessions. Amid these encounters, Mike emphasizes the divine orchestration that led him to Gonzalo's life-changing moment. Trusting the Spirit's guidance, Mike reflects on the power of divine timing and the need to rely on God's strength. Through Gonzalo's heartfelt response and Astrid's tearful joy, Mike illustrates the transformative impact of Gospel-sharing, reminding us of God's faithfulness in the midst of unexpected encounters.


Mike Barko

3/30/20216 min read

The last two weeks have been such a blessing as we continue to share the Gospel. We have shared four times downtown and have seen 39 people profess saving faith in Christ alone. We shared twice at J.M.U. and saw 24 people respond. Finally, we held the cross twice and led 4 to Christ.

There are so many neat pictures and stories to share. This time I will just focus on one. Thank you to Ben Varepa who continues to help me share the Gospel and also to Karen Brooks and Rob Gilmer!


As I was finishing my prayer time before heading downtown to share the Gospel, a person's name popped into my head...Astrid. Now, it would certainly be more normal for 'Bob' or 'Sue' or 'Harry' to pop into our heads. When her name came to me, I immediately thought, 'Maybe I will run into Astrid today.'

I had met Astrid downtown several months ago and had shared the Gospel with her that day. Astrid's dad, Paul Clamp, is the president of an international ministry called 'All the World Missions'. So, again, I thought, 'Maybe I will see Astrid today.'

As I was sharing this particular morning, I remember seeing a gentleman come out of the courtroom with an attorney friend of mine. They were talking as they walked down the steps. My plan was to wait for them to finish talking and then to offer the man a bracelet.

Well, they were talking for a while. Then I thought, "I guess I will offer him a bracelet when the attorney walks off." Well, when the attorney walked off, the man walked off with him. At that point I exhaled, "Oh, well, it's in your hands dear Lord."

There is always a temptation to take matters into our own hands. We must trust the Spirit to do it, not our own flesh. Flesh can be doing things in our own strength and our own energy. Flesh is not just 'fornication, idolatry, lasciviousness' etc.

Watchman Nee, in his book 'The Normal Christian Life' reminds us that...

'The object of temptation is always to get us to do something. During the first three months of the Japanese war in China we lost a great many tanks, and so were unable to deal with the Japanese armor, until the following scheme was devised. A single shot would be fired at a Japanese tank by one of our snipers in ambush. After a considerable lapse of time the first shot would be followed by a second, then, after a further silence, by another shot; until the tank driver, eager to locate the source of the disturbance, would pop his head out to look around. The next shot, carefully aimed, would put an end to him.

As long as he remained under cover he was perfectly safe. The whole scheme was designed to bring him out into the open. In just the same way, Satan's temptations are not designed primarily to make us do something particularly sinful, but merely to cause us to act in our own energy; and as soon as we step out of our hiding place to do something on that basis, he has gained the victory over us. But if we do not move, if we do not come out of the cover of Christ into the realm of the flesh, then he cannot get us.'

I have learned this lesson over the years the hard way. It's best to just be quiet, place the situation into the Lord's hands, and let it go. When we take matters into our own hands and it doesn't go well, we end up discouraged, frustrated and angry. In this agitated emotional state we are now ripe to fall into sin.

'Commit thy way unto the Lord; (Hebrew...Roll thy way upon), trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.' (Psalm 37:5)

Sometimes it's an incessant continuous rolling..."you take it take it take it Lord"

I must have given it to the Lord because I actually forgot about this gentleman and ending up talking with someone else. When I finished with this person, I looked up across the street and guess who was standing there?

The Lord had brought him back to me, in His time, in His way, for His own glory. All praise to Him.

So, I hollered across the street, "Do you want a free bracelet?"

Most people don't respond this quickly. With no hesitation, he made a beeline over to me like he was on a mission.

Because I had a few great encounters after this, I was not able to write down all of the details from this one. Here is what I do remember.

His name was Gonzalo. He initially told me that he 'hoped he would make it to Heaven one day.'

As usual, I went through the law with Gonzalo (liar, thief, adulterer, murderer, and blasphemer) and he saw that he was 'not good enough' to get into Heaven.

"No one is good except God alone". (Luke 18:19)

"For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God's laws." (James 2:10)

Now how sure was Gonzalo that he would go to Heaven?...'0'

Amen. The law did it's preparatory work. It doesn't always work this smoothly, but this time it did.

Gonzalo saw that he was guilty before God and was sitting in God's electric chair with the penalty of 'spiritual death'.

I asked him, "What can you do to get out of the chair?"

He replied, 'Nothing'.

Wow. Gonzalo was really understanding the Gospel. We did need to talk about a few things here that he needed clarification on. There were a few religious terms that he had heard that he really didn't understand: 'please forgive me' and 'repent'.

Both of these were insufficient to extricate 'ole Gonzalo' from the electric chair. I preached Christ: (1) His person and (2) His work. This is also known as (1) His exclusivity and (2) His sufficiency.

When God became a man 2000 years ago, He had removed Gonzalo from the electric chair and paid his 'spiritual death'. Many people don't realize that Christ died spiritually on the cross before He died physically.

"And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Matthew 27:46)

In that awful moment of spiritual death for God the Son, Jesus was forsaken by God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. That is the reason for His horrific agonizing cry in the Greek, 'anaboao!'

The word 'boao' in the Greek means 'shouting with intense emotional feeling.' When the unclean spirits came out of people in Acts 8:7, they 'cried out with a loud voice, or shrieked.' This is the word 'boao'. Think about the intensity of this shriek.

'Ana' in the Greek means 'up to the maximum limit'. If 'boao' means an intense emotional shriek, can you imagine taking this up to it's maximum limit? This is absolutely horrifying to think about.

And this word 'anaboao' is only used one time in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit reserved it to only describe the God-awful torment that Jesus felt in that horrible moment.

Thank you Jesus for your spiritual death payment for us on the cross. We love you and we thank you.

God had paid Gonzalo's spiritual death payment on the cross and then he provided the resurrection receipt, 'Paid-in-full.' I did the dessert story for emphasis and Gonzalo understood that he had been trusting in himself.

Gonzalo understood that he could be 100% sure if he put his trust in Christ alone.

When did he want to do this?


Just about this time a car pulled up. Out of the car came...


She came over and explained that Gonzalo was her fiancee. Then she broke down weeping and told me...

'I have been praying for this for such a long time. My dad has been praying as well. I love this man with all my heart and I can't imagine spending eternity without him.'

So I attempted to lead Gonzalo in the prayer to accept Christ. I say 'attempted' because he broke down weeping two times during the prayer. Astrid was crying with him.

After we got through the prayer Astrid continued...

'When I pulled up earlier to drop Gonzalo off I saw you and told Gonzalo, 'He's here! My heart jumped for joy because I thought something special might happen!'

There is a lot of rejection for all of us these days. Hearing these words from Astrid was medicine for my soul. Amen and thank you Jesus.

Gonzalo told me (paraphrased), 'Thank you for the way you explained that to me. You broke it down for me so I could understand it. I would not have understood it if you hadn't explained it that way.'

Gonzalo told the Lord, 'Thank you for saving me and coming into my heart. My heart is happy and overwhelmed at the same time.'


Astrid sent me this message later on that night...

'Hi!!!! I want to thank you so much for your work through Christ. Today was a day I have been praying for and my mom and my dad. We love Gonzalo and it was such an answer to prayer that you were there today. I saw you and I felt my spirit leap with joy when I dropped him off at the courthouse. And when I came back to see you talking I knew that something was happening. God is so good. Christian love and blessings to you!'

Here is a four minute testimony from Gonzalo after he trusted Christ:

Thank you for you prayers and support! HAPPY EASTER!