A short day at work gave me some time to get to campus early and chat with as many students as possible before our weekly campus bible study. My first encounter was a petite bold “atheist” named McKenzie who related her liberal ideologies and a legacy of atheism. My second encounter was a Korean friend, raised in Argentina, living in Mexico, and studying at N.C. State University (a Buddhist by profession of faith). My third encounter was with a group of internationals from five or six different countries, including atheists, Muslims, a Hindu, and Roman Catholics. My final encounter was with a familiar friend, a barista at the local coffee shop, to whom I have remained faithful to share the love of God every time I am in the coffee shop. After a few text messages to several other friends I meet with periodically on campus (who were busy), I was off to do some errands before the bible study started.
All of the above people had several things in common. They were all in their twenties. They all liked to talk about themselves. They were all interested in different topics of conversation, and they all needed Jesus. In our country we see the liberal attacks on the gospel, the influx of internationals, the abundance of unbelief, and the moral downward spirals in society. The opportunities for evangelism have not waned, but increased.
I would like to share a few points about one-on-one evangelism. This above scenario about my Friday is a typical campus day for me and I am thankful for such opportunities to share about the Lord. I am still learning how to be wise as a serpent and harmless as a dove.
The atheist: the truth you give an atheist is that there is no such thing until the conscience is seared. Everything in God’s creation declares His existence and glory so that there is no excuse not to believe, irregardless of all of the other issues non-believers present. McKenzie asked if I had ever seen an atheist converted. Just a few months prior I had led an atheist to the Lord on campus. Many “atheists” never have Christians challenge them or befriend them. More and more non-believers are appearing at every turn nowadays. You can find them everywhere. How will they hear unless someone is sent?
The Buddhist, the Muslim, the Hindu: most people of other religions are weak theologically as individuals and strength only shows up when they are in numbers. I pick a common ground to enter into a friendship. People from other religions are hungry for friendship and are people that like to play Ping Pong, Basketball, Guitar, and speak foreign languages. I speak Spanish with my Buddhist friend and share the gospel with the common ground of Spanish. Internationals are an easy crowd to share the gospel because they want to learn English. Conversations that drift into religion give a perfect opportunity to share your faith and invite them into your life as a new friend. I’ve recently added a series of meetings on campus with a man and woman from Venezuela beginning with a single encounter with them. Presently, there are five non-believers that I meet with individually on a routine basis. For some people, it takes a whole semester for them to really see the gospel correctly (or even a whole year). I’ve dropped some of these relationships in the past only to find them re-emerge later. Most people want consistent friendships. There is a commitment factor that will bring a word of caution. Be wise and harmless. It’s not good to pursue personal relationships that are dangerous to you or to your church body. That’s another topic to be discussed. Be aware, though, that evangelism breaks out of the box and touches lepers, liars, legalistic folks, leaders, lonely people, losers in life, liturgy controlled religious thinkers, and a litany of other categories into which people see themselves fall. Sometimes I don’t know when to let go of people. Sometimes I push too fast too quickly.
Sometimes I make other mistakes. You can put you own false steps here also, I’m sure, but remember that love never fails. Be a true friend. We have a supernatural ability to be that. I promise you will see results.
The Apostle Paul said to the Romans in the first chapter, “I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.” If we follow after Paul, we don’t get a choice in our audience and commitment when it comes to evangelism. He follows this statement, “so, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who in Rome also.” Again, if we follow Paul, we would put foresight and commitment into our evangelistic efforts. Paul adds this statement, “for I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first, and also for the Greek.” (NKJV). Our love for Jesus causes us to stand for Him and proclaim Him. It’s easier than you think. Meet people. Genuinely love them. Be a great friend. Find common ground with them. Let them talk about themselves. Find their history with God. Get a plan to meet with them. Invite them to your house. Invite them to home group or Bible study. Bring them to church, and bring them to Jesus. Take a survey in your church body. The majority of people, in about any church, are there because of one or more of these acts of friendship. Do the same processes with backsliders and non-believers. Bring them to cook-outs, church picnics, fun outings, etc. Everyone likes to eat in a good restaurant. Invite people out to lunch at a restaurant that will offer a unique experience for both of you? Eating food is everyone’s common ground. Jesus sent His disciples out by twos. Invite along a brother or sister in the Lord. I think you get the picture.
One in four Americans have no one with whom to share their deep heart issues, according to a recent well known surveyor. I have seen this statistic true empirically. Look for the lonely. One in four people are in need of a close friend. Let’s lift up our eyes. The fields are white for harvest.
Jim Morgan, Christian Life Fellowship Church, Raleigh, N.C.
[note color=”#ebebeb”] At CLF, we believe that the whole Christian life hinges on the two greatest commandments of the Bible: love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. We believe these commandments are summed up in two simple words by which we endeavor to live our lives: worship and relationship!
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