In upcoming decades, an anticipated 80 million people—new residents and tourists—will flood the U.S. shores. These newcomers will offer immense opportunities for witness and ministry. — Missions USA, May–June 1995
It helps to remember that evangelism (people coming to faith) is a process. God works through your personality, experiences, hobbies, vocations, family bonds, and faithfulness to draw a lost soul into His Kingdom. It may be in the form of helping your neighbor with yard work or preparing food to a sick friend or taking a single-parent child fishing or planning a trip for a group of guys from work.
Our actions and attitudes help build communication bridges that allows us to share the Gospel when the opportunities present themselves. Seeing evangelism as a process takes some pressure off your expectations. We shouldn’t feel guilty if we don’t verbally witness to everyone we meet; but at the same time, we are responsible for building meaningful relationships to the lost. And when the time comes, we are to share verbally what Christ has done in our lives and what He is willing to do in their lives.
The key thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit is responsible for preparing a person’s heart to receive the message God has put in your heart. Our responsibility is to identify and build common bonds and interest that create familiarity and comfort (authentic relationships). When others see our genuine love and concern for them they most often will become more receptive to listening to our words.
It is not unusual to have some challenging experiences with personal evangelism. Frustrating encounters can be so traumatic that they can discourage us to the point of giving up. Some people can be easily offended. Oftentimes they can feel threatened. Remember, it most likely is not you who they are upset with. It is the convicting power of the Holy Spirit challenging them about their attitudes and behavior.
“Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged”. – John 16:7-11
But having a negative reaction from others is no reason to quit sharing your testimony. Women who have difficult deliveries or lose a baby through a miscarriage generally don’t give up trying to have children. Often they emerge from the situation more determined than ever to bring another child into this world. Like physical birth, spiritual birth is not without its risks. Seeing a man or woman brought into God’s family is no easy undertaking. Some pain and disappointment will be involved.
Jesus said, “A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world” (John 16:21). In other words, the reward is worth the pain. The same is true in the evangelism process. There is a price to be paid for being a part of a person’s salvation. But the struggle and disappointments are quickly forgotten when we see those we love birthed into God’s family. There is a joy that can’t be explained. So don’t give up on evangelism. To give up on evangelism is to give up on God. After all, He is the One responsible to save and change lives. He wants us to be a part of the process.
Billy Graham helps us better understand our calling as disciples: “The Evangelistic Harvest is always urgent. The destiny of men and of nations is always being decided. Every generation is strategic. We are not responsible for the past generation, and we cannot bear the full responsibility for the next one; but we do have our generation. God will hold us responsible as to how well we fulfill our responsibilities to this age and take advantage of our opportunities.”
When you begin your morning devotions intentionally ask God to bring someone in your life who will be open to hear the Good News. Look for opportunities to interject your story and God’s Word into the conversation. Stay within your personality, experiences, and knowledge, but don’t think you need a seminary degree to simply share the Gospel with others.