The entire team, including myself, was surprised by the overall apathy the people of Amsterdam had to all things God related. It seemed almost everyone simply never thought about God or what would happen after death.
On day four of our trip, we found ourselves at Vondelpark. My wife, Tricia and I began with a prayer walk down the main bike path leading to the first of several open grassy areas where folks took advantage of the sun and open air. As was our custom, we prayed for leading from the Holy Spirit about those we would approach and share the gospel with through a survey.
It was later in the day, a time when we were soon to meet the rest of the team when my attention was drawn to a young man leisurely walking while eating a snack. I sidled up to his right and asked him if he would consider taking a short survey of only four questions. He assented, but first wanted to know why, who would see the answers, would the cumulative results be published, were the questions age targeted, were the questions technical in nature, could he elaborate to his content or must responses be limited, could he take more than the allotted two minutes and many more such questions…and this was all before we had even begun!
We eventually laughed at his overzealous inquiries and he apologized saying it was because he was a logical thinker who prided himself in his intellect and was determined to do the best he could for my survey and needed the background data in order to do so. As we proceeded with the survey he qualified my questions, categorized them, verbally analyzed them before answering and generally convinced me he was indeed a young man of high intellect. He attributed his mind to the constant training of his father who was a psychiatrist in Germany who taught him that all problems could be solved with focused reasoning. Although, as we proceeded further into spiritual conversations I could tell he was treading into, as yet, seldom explored territory.
After 45 minutes of lively conversation that had my head hurting from trying to remember responses I learned in training 20 years before (but had never used), he announced that the mind was all that mattered and if I believed what I did it was all because it was in my own head…and with that our friendly exchange was over.
As I rose to leave I asked if he had heard how Google in the last week had created a viable, quantum computer capable of processing about 1000 qubits of memory in a single hydrogen atom and that the time of “singularity” (a computer capable of downloading a human mind) was likely in his lifetime. The thought greatly excited him as he believed a man’s entire being and total existence was represented by “the mind” and was exactly why he tried so diligently to continually improve his own. He said his life, as he knew it, would live on in the computer.
I continued and asked him, that since all that mattered was “the mind” and if his mind were downloaded to a computer if he would consider this computer “self” the same as the person I was now talking to…a living, duplicate of himself in every way. He thought long on this and finally said no, but was not quite sure how or why there would be a difference. I told him the difference was that he had a soul and a spirit, something a computer could never have, as they were God-given. For the first time in that long afternoon he was speechless, confounded, and pensive.
I told him to think deeply on the topic and if he had any questions to reach out to the email address on the tract. With that, I took my cordial leave and began a silent prayer for our Amsterdam colleage who would respond should my friend in the park, Leo, decide to correspond.
Everyone, including those we interacted with in Amsterdam, are on a spiritual journey and I’m thankful God allowed us to go into such a dark place to share His gospel.