STORIES FROM OLD JOE
Spring quarter at Stanford — 1965
The flowers had long been blooming, the sunshine was continuous, and the architecture gorgeous. My old sportscar didn’t even know it had a top that quarter, and bicycles were everywhere. It was great to simply be alive. And sometimes tough to study!
I had been praying that late winter (if Palo Alto even has one) about the idea of getting a small group of Stanford students together regularly to eat lunch and at the same time, investigate Jesus. I wanted it to be a group of guys who were all over the map in terms of a relationship with God. And I wanted it to be an opportunity, a stepping stone, for someone to begin a serious relationship with God.
One morning I read in the Stanford Daily that the student body president, a guy named Scott, had just returned from Washington, DC. While at the Capitol he’d been invited to participate in the National Prayer Breakfast because of his status as student body president.
Later that afternoon I knocked on the door of his office after class. I told him that I’d read the article and had a good idea on some follow-up to the breakfast.
He was excited, because he’d been intrigued by the experience and wanted to continue his “investigation.” He even told me that he’d been looking for someone to help him follow up on the prayer breakfast idea. So I talked to him about the idea of a weekly lunch group, just an hour long, maybe 7 or 8 guys, who could eat their sandwiches together and open the Bible to look at Jesus’ life. A low key deal. I asked him to find one other guy, and told him I’d find a few, too.
I talked to Craig and Steve, both good friends of mine and followers of Jesus already, and we each agreed to bring another guy who maybe wasn’t so interested in Jesus, but also, not closed to the idea.
So that spring we met for lunch once a week on the lawn in the sunshine, ate our sandwiches and opened the scriptures. We set it up that a different guy each week would read something from one of the four gospels, and we would talk about it. Something that Jesus said or did. It was fun and no pressure. I looked forward to it each week. I never knew whether it moved anyone in the group closer to a believing relationship with God or not, but I did remember it as a good time. And I remembered the sunshine.
But twenty-five years later, I did find out. I was talking to Steve, who had been a part of that little lunch group. Steve was now a partner in one of the premier CPA firms in the country, and had run both the Seattle and New York offices at different times for his firm. So he ran in big business circles.
He told me he had recently run into Scott, the student body president guy . . . and found out that after Stanford he’d volunteered as an army lieutenant in Vietnam, attended Harvard Business School and had done extremely well in business. And Scott told Steve that those lunches on the lawn at Stanford that spring had been the catalyst in bringing him to follow Jesus seriously for the rest of his life. And he was so grateful.
That was fun to hear. And the cool thing I continue to learn is this: If we just let God’s word speak, and hang out with people so they can see your life, the combination draws people to Jesus. We don’t have to let it get all complicated.
“His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God’s Word. We can’t get away from it, no matter what.” — Hebrews 4:12 (The Message Bible)