As followers of Christ, we have been trained through an abundance of outlets how to share the gospel. We learn what tough questions are sure to be asked, the importance of relationships and the importance of presenting the gospel early in a friendship. I’ve had at least two years of evangelism training, but I still struggle. What we are do not experience sitting in the comfort of a Christian home or church is how adamant the enemy is in preventing God’s lost children from experiences his love, grace, joy and hope. While we follow along in a study guide written by a missionary in the depths of the 10/40 window, we do not actually experience the real-world war waged during evangelism.
In training, we learn different ways to approach a potential non-believer. We have checklists we can mentally check off as we have a conversation. These approaches all lead smoothly into the gospel. Then, we learn how to tackle the potential questions a person might have or how to gauge if they are interested or not. Finally, we easily ask for the person’s contact information so we can follow up and discuss questions and concerns more in depth. Within five to12 months, we have a new brother or sister in Christ. Woohoo! But scratch all of that, because that’s not necessarily what actually happens.
First, as I am prayer-walking through a mall asking the Lord to open my eyes to those around me and to guide my steps, there’s another voice in my head. This unwelcomed voice is telling me I have no idea what to say to people. Its says I am awkward and they will look at me like I am crazy—granted, this has happened. What can I even say to them? I do not know how to initiate this. Who am I to talk to these people? I should just sit in the food court and pray that someone else will talk to them. I have to remind myself this is the enemy trying to stop me, and if I listen, he will win. But this is not a battle for him to win, because my God is greater than any negative or unworthy feeling, and God will win this. That’s assuring, but it’s hard to get initial hesitancy. It takes a mustard seed amount of courage to walk up to someone and say hello. Then, you are required to continue.
When you work up the courage to talk, you spew words, and the person’s eyes get really big as you rush through your line without taking a breath. There is what feels like an extremely long pause as the person tries to process what just happened. The person decides whether to respond or run as fast as they can. During that pause, you start to ask God for the power of invisibility so you can just dissolve into the air and disappear. Fortunately, the other person probably will decide not to run away and to actually say something back to you.
Now that you are breathing normally, you have to conquer the next phase. At this point you either dive into the gospel or ask for contact information so you can meet again. In training, it seems so smooth: “Hey, I’m new in town and trying to meet people. Can I have your number?” But when you actually say this, you feel like an axe murder or a creepy old guy asking a teenage girl for a date. Ultimately, some people will be eager to give you their number, because they too are interested in a friendship. Others will hesitantly give you a number, but they may or may not actually respond to your messages. Then there will be people who look at you ask if you asked them to get into a black van that has “free candy” written of the side in a red paint that looks like the blood of your previous victim. This is where they quickly say no and walk away just as fast.
There will be many who do not actually respond to your messages at all or do not come to the appointed meet up. Before asking for someone’s number you may dive into this gospel. Some people will listen politely, some will interrupt you somewhere between beginning and brokenness, others will say “no” and leave. Then there will be some who listen intently and grasp onto every word you say because they are longing to know.
Those people, the ones who grasp onto the word of God and whose eyes brighten at the description of this incredible love makes the waging war between God and the enemy with you in the middle absolutely worth it. Those who are eager to meet up because they know there is something different and good about you make enduring the awkwardness and runaways worth it. Being able to share the gospel with just five people when you have met a thousand make all the rejection worth it. The reminder that it is a privilege given by God to experience his goodness and holiness through assisting in a job he does not actually need help with is live-giving.
We are children walking along side our dad carrying a large object and placing our hands on the bottom of the object as if we are actually helping carry the weight of the object. But instead of complaining that we are in his way or that we are not actually helping, our Father smiles down joyously saying, “That’s my child.”
McKenzie, a student at Texas A&M University, is serving this summer in Canada with Go Now Missions. Here last name is withheld because of her past service in places where it can create a security risk and her desire to serve in similar settings in the future.