Evangelism Doesn't Have to Be Scary
Updated: Jan 28, 2018
Evangelism... it's terrifying, right? A year ago, if you had told me to go up to a stranger on the street, or even to a friend who doesn't know Jesus, and tell that person about the Gospel, I would have given a very nervous "no thanks". Honestly, before the Race, I would have done anything to get out of unnecessary interaction with just about anybody. But, now I have a passion for evangelism that has changed my whole view on my interactions with both strangers and friends. Here's why evangelism really doesn't have to be all that scary:
Evangelizing doesn't mean you have to harass strangers on the street. Although I've done a bit of street evangelism overseas and have seen the Lord work in it, that's not always necessary or even effective. My favorite way to lead people to Christ is by simply building relationships. In fact, in most countries, that's our main goal. In Albania, for example, we loved pouring into the few people that we saw every day: neighbors, baristas, teachers, students, vendors, barbers, etc. We didn't see them come to Christ while we were there, but that's not the point. The point was that we loved them well, and we planted seeds all over Farke and Tirana, and we will trust that the Lord will bring those seeds to harvest! Personal evangelism is what Jesus did, and it's what we're called to do as well.
The Lord uses your talents and circumstances for His good. The Lord has given all of us different gifts and talents... we hear this all the time. But, He has enabled each of us to be apart of the Gospel by using those talents for his glory. For example, maybe you're gifted in hospitality. You love making room for the people in your life, new and old. You love creating a space for people to be comfortable and well taken care of. So, use that gift! Make room for people who don't know Jesus. Show them how he provides for us through your servants heart. Show them what the Gospel is through your warm welcoming and intentionality. Our gifts vary, and our God has plans for all of them. The Lord has given you gifts, and He will use them if you just allow Him to! In the same way, your financial circumstances, your job or your busy schedule doesn't mean you don't have a part to play in bringing people to Christ. He has plans for all of it if you just ask for the guidance of the Holy Spirit and allow the Lord to bring new people into your life.
The Holy Spirit is at work before you even start. The Holy Spirit is a weird subject for many people in the American church... I know it was for me. We kind of treat the Holy Spirit like the weird uncle in the trinity. Yeah, we know he's there and he's part of the family, but we don't really know what he does, and we're often a little nervous when he shows up, right? As someone who has grown up in the American church, I knew next to nothing about the Holy Spirit, but I'll tell you this, if you just ask, the Holy Spirit will guide you. He will speak through you and He will guide you into important relationships. Have you ever met somebody, and your heart just goes out to them? Have you ever felt someone's burdens like they were your own, and you just feel a love and concern for them? Has the name of someone popped into your head, and you felt a sudden heart aching compassion for that person? Don't give yourself credit for that. That's not you, that's the Holy Spirit, and if you are directed by Him, He will direct you to people who are hurting and who are far from Him. The Holy Spirit is at work every time you talk to someone about Jesus, and The Holy Spirit started working on that person's heart before you even got there. Is that not amazing? That means there's no pressure. The Holy Spirit does the heavy lifting, all you have to do is be willing to go.
There is no pressure to have a lot of knowledge of the Bible. You don't have to be brilliant, you just have to be willing; willing to put yourself out of your comfort zone; willing to let the Holy Spirit guide you; willing to make time and room for the people around you. So you feel the Holy Spirit asking you to make conversation with the checkout guy at Walmart? Be willing to do that. Have you ever had the sudden urge to go up to that co-worker you don't talk to that much and ask them out for coffee? Be willing to ask. Once the you start talking about the Gospel, you don't have to be an apologetics expert. All you have to know is that Jesus Christ died on the cross for you so that you don't have to live in the bondage of your sins anymore. All you have to talk about is the amazing news which is that we, as Christians, are now blameless. I'm not particularly gifted in the area of Biblical knowledge, although I am trying to change that, But any time I have talked about Christ from the Bible and from the thankfulness in my heart, the conversation has always thrived. We're called to bring news, not just great advice or biblical facts.
It's not about numbers. On the Race, we often talk about how there are three stages of evangelism. There's the "planting" stage, where we interact with people who don't know Jesus, and we tell them the amazing news that is the Gospel. Then there's the "watering" stage, where we continue to pour into the people who have heard about Jesus but still have questions or reservations. And lastly, there's the "harvesting" stage, where we actually get to see that person accept Christ. Well, over the past 7 months, I have done tons of planting by talking to people in the market, women stuck in the sex trade, and families in the slums. I have done a lot of watering as well, talking to people that former World Racers have spoken to and pouring into families that our ministry contacts have been pouring into for years. But I have rarely seen the beautiful harvest. I have helped lead a few people to Christ, and for a second thought, "wow, this is why I'm on the Race." But I soon realized that I am not on the Race just to see people led to Christ. In fact, when I did see those few people led to Christ, I missed the planting and watering. I love witnessing the often slow process of someone's formerly hardened heart soften. It's the best kind of miracle. So, we can't think of evangelism as numbers. In fact, I think it's harmful to think of it like that. The Lord works in His perfect timing, and He is sweet enough to allow us to be a part of the process.
Lastly, you are where you are for a reason. Think of all of the people you come into contact with every day, people in your workplace, in your neighborhood, in your social circle, in your class, in your community. God wants to bring these people into your life so that you can love these people and meet their needs and share the life changing news that is the Gospel. You get to be apart of this! You get to be a witness to lives being changed! See, this makes me kind of excited when I think about going back to work when I get home... the Living God wants to create divine appointments for me. He wants to use my everyday, mundane, nine-to-five life to bring the people around me to Him. Evangelism doesn't end when my feet hit American soil, and evangelism isn't just for missionaries, it's for all Christ-followers!
Here's a secret, this blog is for me too. As much as I have loved talking to new people about Christ, there's always that bit of anxiety that gets to me every time. Often, the idea of sitting down with someone I don't already know well and telling them about Jesus totally freaks me out, still. It goes against every fiber of my introverted being. But, countless times, the Lord has shown up. He has actually spoken through me, and will continue to speak through me... even if I'm nervous the entire time.
With love from Shtip, Macedonia