Recently the North American Mission Board (NAMB) launched a massive personal evangelism campaign titled: Whose your one? I have a bright blue T-shirt advertising the campaign that is just unbelievably comfortable. Therefore, I wear it more than some of my other T-shirts. I’m not sure if that was one of NAMB’s strategies but it worked because I’ve been thinking a great deal about the question plastered on the front of that shirt: Whose your one? And I think I have come to terms with at least part of the answer. It’s probably not the person I made awkward eye contact with at Walmart. It’s probably not the waiter or waitress that my wife and I had a friendly conversation with at dinner. My ‘One’ probably isn’t the stranger I’ve never met.
I think it’s natural human tendency to think and even hope that the one The Lord wants you to win for the Kingdom would be some person you don’t know from Adam. Despite popular opinion, and I am speaking from personal experience as well, strangers are the easiest people I have ever shared the Gospel with. Think about it. They don’t know you. And that means a couple of things. For starters, if you fumble in your Gospel presentation, well it’s less embarrassing if you don’t know or see the person regularly. It also means that they don’t know about your temper tantrum you threw last week or how you fell asleep in the Sunday sermon. They don’t know anything about your relationship with The Lord, and that’s why it’s easy for you to share the Gospel with a stranger you don’t know, because they don’t know you.
Now some will say, “What about Paul, Peter, and other missionaries?” My response is that if you think you’re a Paul, Hudson Taylor, or C.T. Studd then I bid you God-speed. I pray often for The Lord to raise up laborers to send into the harvest, perhaps that is your calling. If it is, go and share the Gospel with millions of strangers whom you have never met, who are waiting to hear about The Saviour they have never met. For most of you reading however you probably already know that the Lord hasn’t called you to a ministry like that. So for those of us living out our callings in the place where we were raised let me share with you the first account of Personal Evangelism that we see in The Gospel of John.
One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah (which means Christ). He brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, ‘You are Simon the son of John. You shall be called Cephas’ (which means Peter). -John 1:41-42
Did Andrew ever lead anyone else to The Lord? Sure, I’m certain that He did. He actually had quite a knack for bringing people to Jesus of which John sees to have noticed (See John 6:9 for another example). However, the first person Andrew went to tell and find was the one person who knew him well, his brother. I think it’s a shame that for most of us that would have been the last place we would have began a personal evangelism campaign at. We will look at the hundreds of strangers we pass by daily and yet never say a word about Christ to our lost family members and close friends. So how can we change this? Here are 3 practical tips I try to remember… it’s not exhaustive, but I find it to be a good place to begin.
- Pray. Pray. Pray. The closer I grow to Christ the more I realize my own personal need for prayer. How great then is the need of prayer for those who do not yet know Him. Ask The Lord to make you an effective witness. Repent of sin which The Lord has made known to you. Ask The Lord to soften the heart of your ‘One’ and for them to be receptive to the Gospel.
- Saturate your conversations with talk of Jesus, Scripture, and spiritual matters. I find it to be that my evangelism attempts have been more effective when my presentation of The Gospel isn’t the first time they learn that I am a Christian.
- Remember, we are not perfect and any sane person shouldn’t expect you to be either. We all mess up, we all fall, we all do and say dumb things and wish we could take them back. That being said, my experience is that a humble heart, a gentle spirit, and a quick to forgive and ask for forgiveness attitude over time will lead to a powerful and effective witness.
So whose your one? I’m not saying that The Lord can’t use you to reach an unknown stranger. I’m quite certain He could if that is His will. I just don’t want you to sit around waiting for a person you don’t know, when their are people in your life that you do know who are in need of the good news that you hold. May the Lord bless you as you search for the One to bring to The Lord.