Before I tell you my response, I'm interested in what your response would have been. Would you shop with the witch and the drug dealer?
My response was, "Oh, good! That gives me a great excuse to go in there more often!" Needless to say, my friend was a little surprised. Perhaps you are, too. There are several reasons I opted to shop there more often and not less, all of which come straight from Scripture.
1) The Great Commission says to go to ALL the world and make disciples. There is nothing in there about going everywhere except where witches and drug dealers work. (Matt 28:19,20)
2) There is no way to make disciples without going. If I don't spend time with the "witches and drug dealers", how will I tell them about my Jesus? I can't. To make a disciple, we go wherever potential disciples are found. If we need to shop there, we do. (Matt 28:19,20)
3) We are the light of the world. No where is light more needed than in a dark place. We are to let our light shine before men, not hide it away from people living in darkness. (Matt 5:14-16) If Jesus said to shine my light before men (and He did), He meant it.
4) The rumor about the drugs and the witch were just that. Rumor. Jesus IS truth and we should seek truth, too, especially before sharing a morsel of gossip. They may have been witches and drug dealers, but there was no proof of that. The truth was that they needed Jesus as much as I. (John 14:6)
5) Greater is He who is in me than he who is in the world. My Jesus is more powerful than the powers of darkness and is able to protect me. (1 John 4:4) Fear is not necessary.
6) I am also a sinner. So are we all. That makes me equal to the witch and the drug dealer. It makes all of us (every Christian) equal to them. We are all sinners and have all fallen short of God's standard. We all deserve death and hell, not just witches and drug dealers. (Romans 3:23)
7) God wants every person on earth to come to repentance. EVERY includes witches and drug dealers. (2 Peter. 3:9) If they are a priority for God (and they are),then they should be a priority for me.
8) Jesus was a friend to sinners and, if I am going to be like Jesus, I need to be a friend to the "unrighteous", too. (Mark 2:16,17)
Dear ones, we must not let our prejudice prevent us from being salt and light in a dark place! I shopped regularly in that little store, engaged in conversation with the workers, and shared bits of faith with them as I became better acquainted with them. Did they "pray the prayer" with me? No. What I hoped to accomplish was to undo the stereotypes about Christians as bigots and demonstrate Christ to them on an ongoing basis. I shared homegrown vegetables with them and loved them. It's the Holy Spirit's job to draw them to Jesus. It's my job to love them with Christ's love, and that's what I tried to do.
There's a Muslim man who owns a business near where I live. Do I shop there? You bet I do! I'm pretty sure Jesus would have shopped there, too. I see it this way: Jesus has entrusted this man and his business to me (and to anyone else willing to be a friend to sinners ). If I don't demonstrate the love of Christ to him, who will?
Remember what Paul wrote to the Church at Rome? "How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” (Romans 10:14, 15 NIV)
Who were the "they" Paul was writing about? The ones who need Jesus. The witches, the drug dealers, the Muslims, the people like me and you. We need to be taking Jesus everywhere we go, and we must not let our personal bias or bigotry exclude anyone. Jesus was a friend to sinners, and we should be, too.