In my head, it was supposed to work out something like this…
“I didn’t believe in Jesus but now you’ve argued with me for an hour, I see I was completely wrong. Can I give my life to Christ?”
In the impetuous days of my youth, arguing seemed like a really good evangelism strategy. Seeing that written down now, I squirm with embarrassment. Unsurprisingly, arguing provoked a reaction, but not one that drew people closer to Jesus as I’d hoped.
I first met Jesus as a child and for the longest time I thought that was a second-rate conversion.
I first met Jesus as a child and for the longest time I thought that was a second-rate conversion. The exciting testimonies were all about people who had been saved from a life of wild living, but I just had a boring story no-one would want to hear. Sound familiar?
One retreat weekend God had a very stern word with me: “Nothing I do is second-rate”.
Gradually, over many years, it dawned on me that God had given me the best life-start possible with Jesus-loving parents like mine, but I’d allowed Satan and our drama-loving culture to twist my thinking. By disqualifying the wonderful story of what Jesus had done in my life, I’d made arguing seem like my only option for evangelism.
Despite all God had taught me, witnessing just felt like too much to bear in this season.
By my twenties, I’d realised that arguing wasn’t my best strategy, but witnessing took a back seat to fitting in with culture. I married a lovely man but he didn’t know Jesus, and so any attempt to share my faith – often around the meal table with friends – now left me in a minority of one. Despite all God had taught me, witnessing just felt like too much to bear in this season.
But seasons change, new friendships develop, and into my thirties, two babies arrived. This, I discovered, is a whole new ministry and evangelistic field! Children don’t escape from seeing all areas of your life and faith, both the best and the worst parts, but I was so excited by the opportunities that all that time together provided. I read Bible stories to them, sang worship songs with them, and I got to pray with them. And suddenly, I also had a whole new group of friends to share life with – parent and toddler groups, school gate connections, and so on.
Each life stage brought new opportunities to share my faith.
Each life stage brought new opportunities to share my faith, such as when we invited friends who didn’t know Jesus to come to our children’s dedication services, or when friends had their own kids, I loved to buy Christian children’s books as gifts – Max Lucado is my personal favourite!
Entering my forties, I began to grow in confidence about offering to pray with people. As we pour out the words God gives us to pray for someone, they not only hear our heart, but they get a glimpse of His heart. It is the most powerful, loving witness I can offer, and I have seen its profound effects upon both myself and those I pray for. My forties were also a decade in which I took bible study seriously for the first time. Getting to grips with scripture revolutionised so much of my relationship with Christ and my ability to speak about Him with others.
Getting to grips with scripture revolutionised so much of my relationship with Christ and my ability to speak about Him with others.
From misguided attempts at arguing people into the Kingdom to learning to value my story, and from inviting friends to key life events to regularly offering to pray with them, my journey in evangelism has mirrored much of my life’s journey. There have been seasons of immense joy (my husband came to know Jesus – hallelujah!) and seasons of deepest sadness. Each has given us opportunities to speak of Jesus, often with gratitude and bewilderment in equal measure.
Whether friends were only for a season, or we have weathered many storms together, I hope that God’s work in my life has been evident at every stage, pointing people to the One who has been faithful through it all.
And so, in this current decade, our home has now become our greatest tool for evangelism – we didn’t see that coming! We have random lodgers, meetings, men’s groups, dinner guests etc. Through it all, we simply try to hold everything with open hands and let God open up the opportunities. This is, after all, His work not ours.
“Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16b
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