Here at the Growth Mandate we want to make sure that we hear from different people, who are passionate about growth. This month we have a guest post from my incredibly bold, and loving friend Don. Read what he has to say below.
Too Good Not To Share
You are in KFC, and suddenly five solid-framed gang members come in to buy dinner.
The mood in the restaurant changes because of these tanky, intimidating men.
Who are you in this situation? A short (5 ft’ 4), extremely skinny Vietnamese man.
You are nervous on the verge of panic. These guys do not have a good street-reputation. God, quietly yet surely, fills you with a prompting to start a conversation and to genuinely care for one of the men.
You pray “God whatever you want me to say or do!
Whether it is gospel conversation, meeting a need or just listening – do it through me!”
Initially, you see no opportunity to break the ice. But you pray and wait for God to lead further. Suddenly, one of the men finds himself just short to pay for his meal and asks his mates if they “Got a dollar?”
Behold, there waiting patiently in your pocket is the jingle of the perfect amount to meet the need.
Raising your arm and offering your loose change, you find yourself mentally describing the tremors in your hand like an earthquake. You pray. God settles your nerves, and you take a deep breath. You then proceed to ask the man “How’s your night been?”
You ask God to lead the conversation. Before you know it, 10-15 min pass, the gang member has told you about his family, his extended two weeks and his struggle with sleep.
This was not the day you mention or lead into gospel conversation, but due to prayer at the start/during the chat, you were more prepared than you thought!
Why do I mention this first? It is something I have experienced first hand.
But for me, the challenge is not as weighty with strangers (though physical danger is sometimes a fear) compared to people I see every week.
Even with the experience at KFC, the most significant risks I have ever encountered seem far different to what you may think. For me, the riskiest opportunity was praying several months to share the gospel with my father. It was by his bedside, just before he went to sleep. Yes, I remember it like yesterday!
Near the same time, on another occasion, the risk felt just as real sharing Christ with one of my best friends. I think many of us can relate to fearing the loss or breakdown of friendship by presenting the gospel more than physical suffering. This is what we actually must face, the possibility of rejection! Reject us, but more importantly, the most precious and saving truth.
I will be honest with you. I do not consider myself a strong evangelist. Or if this helps to clarify, I am not a man that sees many come to Christ.
But I will tell you this. There is not a day that my heart doesn’t hurt for people who do not experience Jesus. But the cornerstone and foundation of my experience here is not relying or dwelling on emotion, but the reality of God’s word. What do I do about a Christ that has saved me and is worth sharing, even if it costs my life?
How do I get from A to B, what motivates me to share the gospel?
Compassion united with loyalty to God’s word always produces active wisdom and discernment. Isn’t it unusual the amount of times that Jesus joins a preaching word on repentance/the kingdom with an act of mercy in scripture? At the same time, discerns his words for the situation. Look at these passages! Jesus is found eating with tax collectors and sinners (Matt 9:10-13), deals with a woman caught in adultery who is about to be stoned (John 8:1-11), preaches and feeds the five thousand (Mark 6:34-42), forgives and heales a paralysed man (Mark 2:3-10), just to name a few!
You see it don’t you? God used Jesus to speak at the right time to share the gospel. He does this today with us, when are willing to be humbled for His sake! Men and women of compassion are less hasty and insensitive to present the gospel and will listen sincerely – even in conversations that they may feel conflicted with.
Yet at the same time, the same Christ-followers who are lovers of scripture grow a sense of bravery for obedience to God’s word, ready for the cost of rejection and persecution. You can see their desperation and urgency for God’s word – to break forth light and gospel glory into a non-saved soul. Not just praying for a week. In what I have experienced, I’m talking months, years and decades for God to save! Compassion and truth are born of the word. When we ask for them to be united and living in our lives, it is mighty! I have seen it with my own eyes.
If we experience the joy of living saved (from just-wrath, all-consuming judgment for sin) and being loved daily by a living Christ, how can we do nothing on two fronts:
1. Serve people practically and saturated with love to show them gospel power in their non-saved reality. Just examine and reflect for a moment. Our friends are being consumed by worldliness, we come across broken strangers frequently, and we may see defeated co-workers every week under the grief of marriage, mental illness, or addiction. What an opportunity we have to serve them the love of Christ through our actions, that is one of the ways God opens Gospel conversations.
2. Be men and women of relentless prayer, always prepared with God’s word, which may be, praying for an opportunity to share the Gospel for someone, whether in a formal setting or a passing conversation with a stranger. When we love God’s word, find daily joy and worship for him in it, a sense of urgency always grows, and it is relentless toward obedience and to see His power save. We must be people of prayer.
To meet the nervousness that I face in gospel opportunity, I remind myself and pray during conversations on the word about God not giving me a spirit of fear (1 Timothy 1:7). Then I move toward how worthy he is to be shared, reminding my heart that Jesus is our precious rock and foundation (1 Timothy 1:8).
If the opportunity arises, where I ask for an opening, and God leads an opportunity, this is what comes to mind: “… to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). This is a reflex verse which provides me the power to pray for the right words to speak with wisdom.
For me, interwoven between these two passages, there is the word I’ve memorised. It has filled me with love for people I have shared with no matter how rough and tough they are. This is Romans 12: 9 – 21, which describes the living attitude of a Christ follower.
I promise any redeemed follower this. Weep, plead and pray that this passage tears the pride out of your heart and transforms it. You will never be left unchanged every time you seek the Holy Spirit to make this passage apart of your newly created heart! It has not only filled me with greater love to share, but also protected me against attacks on my faith, feelings of anger, and impatience.
A closing note. If you’re wondering why I do not stress about equipping with intellectual, academic or rational proofs to bring to evangelism, it’s not because I haven’t experienced God using it. It is crucial and when God leads you to search for answers for personal conversations – commit to it (with love and wisdom)!
But time and time again, I find God’s most magnificent cure to spiritual cataracts and blindness, is the living love that abides in His Spirit and word.
When Christ’s Spirit (active love and spoken truth) lives consistently in you as a follower, and you give God’s word, and Spirit time to serve a non-believer, it is the most challenging case to disprove. God uses all: labour, science, philosophy, and art to point to him. But a divine love that genuinely lives in Christ’s body, his word, and Spirit, is something unparalleled, it is the roar of a thousand waves washing over a shore.
May you be encouraged to go and be people who boldly share the Gospel with others. To be people who show his love through your service of others, who are people who will relentlessly pray for opportunities to share, and have the Bible encourage your spirit.
The message of Jesus Christ, crucified for us, is a message we can’t keep to ourselves.