This is part 3 of a continuing series on how I discovered “my gift” of evangelism. Mostly, I’m writing this so I don’t forget the curious ways God used to get me to have a passion for the lost. I hope you are encouraged as you read this. (Start at part 1 by clicking here.)
“If you died today would you go to Heaven or Hell? Jesus died for your sins, was buried for three days and rose again.” That was my holy mantra for the first six months after I made a commitment to share my faith everyday. The apostle Paul did say that this was the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15; no one else had taught me to say anything different. So wherever I went—the grocery store, the gas station, the gym, whenever I’d meet someone—I’d work those words into a conversation, whether it was appropriate or not.
I’d get change from the cashier and reply, “Thank you. Did you know that Jesus died for your sins, was buried for three days and rose again?” When saying goodbye to the desk attendant at 24 Hour Fitness I’d wave and say, “Jesus died for your sins, was buried for three days and rose again.” The clerk at Costco? You guessed it.
And what was the response? Rolling eyes, smirks, and condescending head nods, of course. Still I was faithful to share. Everyday. The Home Depot helper. The McDonald’s counter guy. Shoppers. All received the news that Jesus died for their sins, was buried for three days and rose again.
Even with those simple words people reacted, sometimes strongly; there’s just something about that name of Jesus that stirs people up. In April of 2004 I started writing emails about these evangelistic responses, called them E-vangie Tales and sent them to people in our congregation on a weekly basis to encourage them to share their faith.
Then my pastor—and boss—asked me a simple frustrating question: “Steve, it’s great that you are sharing your faith everyday,” he encouraged, “but are you having any conversations?”
Conversations. Conversations? I’m having a few, but no…I’m not having many conversations. What do I say besides what I’m already stating? How can I share my faith more effectively?
I thought about it. Prayed about it. Then resolved to do something different, yet had no idea what.
On a park bench a few days later, I found myself sitting next to a homeless man. I asked him how he was and if he needed anything. We chatted a bit about a few things then I asked him about where he thought he would go when he died, explained the Gospel—and he listened! I was having a conversation! He made a profession of faith, I gave him a few dollars, then I was on my way.
Wow! I did it. I had a conversation! After that, unfortunately, they were few and far between. I had a great desire to share with all those headed for Hell but knew no other way to do it except to say, “Jesus loves you. He died on a cross…etc.
What else could I do? What more could I say? Was this how I was to share my faith–forever?
I continued for another six months having few dialogues with little “results.” My pastor took me aside again to ask another pointed question: “Steve, I know you’ve been sharing your faith everyday for about a year now, and I know you are trying to have conversations with people…. He paused. “But is anyone actually getting saved?”
Aaaaagghhhh! No. No! Not many got saved. There wasn’t much I could point to in the entire year to demonstrate that witnessing for the Lord everyday was worth anything, apart from obeying His command to do so.
Pastor Zac offered a suggestion. “You may want to get a hold of a man named Ray Comfort. I think he preaches up in Santa Monica each week.” (Read part 4 by clicking here!)