(I actually wrote this post last week, intending to post it right after Ultraman's post. But life happened, so I didn't. So, please enjoy this post a week late...)
Today’s coffee: Peru. But it’s late in the day. Will I sleep tonight?
Last week I described my freak-out moment on the blog. Today I described it in front of a room full of pastors. That was somewhat intimidating. And yet somehow it was good to share my struggles with them.
I also had a striking realization this morning: although I have been told since I was small that I need to “bring friends to church” and “tell friends about Jesus,” that was the extent of my evangelism training. (And, I basically gave up after my beloved grandmother got angry when I tried to tell her about Jesus.) Even at Regent College, I had no intention of becoming a missionary or a pastor, so I didn’t bother taking any classes geared in that direction. I think part of the problem was that in my concept of evangelism, the bar was way too high. What about the people who don’t care, don’t want to hear, and have a complicated history with Christians and organized religion? How do I relate to such people, and how do I deal with rejection? Because, as I sometimes have to remind myself, I really do believe that what I’m offering has great value—it’s worth risking everything for.
As a follow up to last week, I’ll briefly mention what I’ve learned and tried as a result of the first chapter of I Once Was Lost. To summarize, I learned (although I think I already knew this to be true) that most people start their journey of faith by forming a trust relationship with a Christian. If I don’t have a trust relationship with my neighbors, they’re not going to care what I have to say about matters of faith, and they’re certainly not going to want to come to church with me.
So, I decided to pray for the people in my neighborhood (and spend more time outside in the yard). This does not mean the “God, please give me an opportunity” sorts of prayers. I discovered that for me, those sorts of prayers are self-centered, and I need to take a break from them for a while. I started praying for each person’s well-being and salvation… and guess what? Immediately, something about our relationship with our neighbors changed. The man next door, with whom we’ve never actually talked, brought us a whole bunch of potatoes and a squash. Another time, he came and talked to me when I was working in the garden. Then, Keith rode the same bus home from choir practice with the man from the house on the other side; we had once had a very awkward conversation with him, but this time he chatted with Keith about his family.
We’re now into our fourth year; less than one year left until home assignment. I can’t help but think that there’s not enough time left, but God is capable of working far beyond our expectations.