(Josh McDowell and the Gothic Group Leader at a High School Assembly)

Did you know that Josh McDowell, the international Christian author and apologist, has had more than 24,000 evangelistic speaking engagements at high schools and universities? That is truly amazing to me!1

I had the privilege of hearing Josh speak in person at Mariners Church several years ago in Irvine, California.2 In his talk, I was thrilled to hear an excellent example of the apologetic of love.

Below is a recounting of that story.


“Mr. McDowell, would you give me a hug?” asked a fierce-looking teenage Gothic leader in front of 1,500 peers at a high school assembly.

When Josh nodded, the young man clamped his arms around Josh, put his head on his shoulder, and wept before the entire school.

That Gothic group consisted of six teens, who wore all black clothes and displayed colorful dyed hair, studs, tattoos, and spiked collars on their necks and wrists. According to a news alert, they had come to the assembly with the intention of throwing the guest speaker off campus.

When Josh began to speak, they all marched up to the platform and growled, “I dare you!”

Led by the Holy Spirit, Josh sized up his audience and switched the topic of his talk. Instead of presenting the Bible as fact, not fiction or fable, he spoke about how to be real with another person. He began by describing his lack of relationship with his dad, the town drunk. Then he brought his talk around to Jesus Christ and His unconditional, personal love for everyone.

After the Gothic leader hugged Josh on the assembly platform, he stepped back a bit and whispered, “Mr. McDowell, my father never once hugged me and never once told me he loved me.”

In reaching out to hundreds of lost teenagers that day with the message of God’s love for all people, Josh displayed sensitivity to his audience and to the Holy Spirit.


When Josh spoke at that church in Irvine, he pointed out that the number-one need of young people is to feel loved. That’s why he presented to those high school students an apologetics message using relational words and highlighting our loving Savior. Seeing them through the eyes of Jesus, he presented a powerful apologetic of love. For only the God of the Bible—the true and living God—loves every person unconditionally and sacrificially.3

“God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that
while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
(Romans 5:8 NKJV)

God alone knows how many students Josh’s Spirit-led message impacted that day, drawing them closer to the heart of Jesus and possibly a huge step closer to eternal salvation. After all, Jesus Christ is pure love in His essence. It was not the nails that held Jesus to the cross at Calvary—it was His deep personal love for priceless lost souls.


1 Josh McDowell was greatly influential in my journey to become a Christian apologist. Over the years, I’ve collected most all of his apologetics books and materials, and I’ve heard him speak in churches and on the radio. His excellent presentation of solid defenses for the Christan faith inspired me to earn a degree in apologetics so I could help unbelievers jump over their obstacles to the Christian faith and proceed to the cross. (Years later, Josh endorsed my apologetic-devotional book, AWESOM-AZING GOD, pictured below.)
2 Josh McDowell. “The Bible: Fact, Fiction, or Fable,” apologetics message given at Mariners Church in Irvine, CA, on 8/12/01.
3 As God the Son (second Person of the Triune God), Jesus Christ is love (1 John 4:8, 16). See also numerous similar Scriptures, such as John 3:16, 15:12–13, and Romans 5:8.

Marilyn’s AWESOM-AZING GOD book, along with endorsements, is available in her TRUE-WAY TRACTS Webstore at:

The companion study guide, EXPLORING TEN TITLES OF OUR AWESOM-AZING GOD, is available in the TWT Webstore at: