We were at the top of the mountain, literally. Though a pristine 70¬∞F, everyone wore coats and jackets and shivered in the breeze. Small stores called warungs lined the street, selling hot coffee, snacks, and trinkets. People of all backgrounds paused on the side of the road to snap selfie's and take pictures of the volcano. As we led a team of Americans through Southeast Asia, the crisp air was a welcome break from the normal sticky heat and pollution of the country's capital.
It was there that it happened. A small, unassuming man came up to us selling water. As we started talking, we quickly realized this was an opportunity to talk about Jesus. Though we were on a strict schedule, leading a dozen other Americans who didn't know the language and needed our help to buy souvenirs, everything could wait. This conversation was of eternal significance.
This small, clean-cut man was a mountain man. In a region where everyone had at least one cell phone, he had none. He lived in the hills, where he had been his whole life. He had literally never heard the name of Jesus before. Over the next hour, we heard his story and shared the good news about the Savior of the world. He asked questions and grappled with this new message. And after a while, he told my husband that he wanted to believe in Jesus and be set free from the bondage of sin. He wanted to know more about the God who saves, the God who died to set him free. We gave the man an extra gospel tract we had in the car, and connected him with a friend who lived nearby to disciple him. We left praising God for this unexpected opportunity.
Ready In and Out of Season
When we woke up that morning, this was not what we had expected for our day. We weren't planning to postpone our schedule on the side of the mountain to share about Jesus, but my husband was ready that day, whether in or out of season, to share the good news. He was a great example of being faithful in spontaneous opportunities. And isn't that what Christians are called to do? We seek out spiritual conversations, and we're ready when they happen unplanned. Just as Paul encourages us:
"Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching." 2 Timothy 4:2
It's a nice story from afar, but what about for the rest of us? Many of us desire to share the gospel with others, but we feel unsure or insecure about how to do so. We're afraid we'll mess it up, and we feel ill-equipped to spontaneously share the gospel. We're afraid that we won't know what to say, and we are timid to find opportunities to talk more about God. Thankfully God has not left us alone to fulfill His commands. God's Spirit works powerfully within us, and we need to be prepared to be used by Him for the opportunities He gives. Below are four ways we can be ready in and out of season to proclaim Christ's mercies.
- Be in the Word
If I want to be ready to share the gospel, I need to be in the Word. The more I read the Bible, the more I understand who God is and want to share Him with others. As God transforms my life, He becomes not just a good part of my life; He becomes my life. I can't help but share how great He is because He's the One who matters most to me.
When we fix our eyes on God through His Word, He transforms us and changes the way we live. If you haven't already established a regular schedule for Bible study, consider trying this study.
- Practice your Testimony
If you're a Christian, an easy way to share the gospel is by telling your personal story of salvation. A testimony is a disarming and personal way to invite your friends and family members into your worldview for a moment. If you haven't already, write down your story of salvation and practice sharing it with a trusted, Christian friend. In your testimony, share about your life before Christ, and the hope, joy, or peace that you have found since surrendering your life to Christ. Talk about how the hope of the gospel has changed your life, and share the story of Jesus's life, death, and resurrection. Ask your friend or family member if they've ever heard something like that before, and ask what they think about what they just heard. Keep practicing your testimony until it becomes a natural part of your introduction to others.
- Pray for Opportunities
If you desire to share your faith more regularly, pray for opportunities to share the gospel with others. Pray that God would surround you with people who are hungry for God's Word and who want to learn more about Him. Pray that the Spirit would work in the lives of those around you and that you could be His instrument in places where He is already working.
- Pray for Boldness
Finally, pray forboldness. Even Paul, an apostle and hero of the faith, prayed for opportunities and boldness in sharing his faith. If Paul needed prayers for boldness, so do we. If you are afraid to share your faith, simply ask God for the courage and faith to do so. Pray for eyes to see opportunities for evangelism, and the courage to take them.
Here's what I've noticed in America: other people aren't afraid to share their beliefs. Last week, I got an invitation from our Jewish neighbor to join a group to visit her spiritual mentor. Regularly, in my city, people speak wildly audacious claims of politics, religion, and economic beliefs without shame. But as Christians, we often feel timid and afraid to share our beliefs with others. We don't want others to feel uncomfortable, and we don't want to lose the relationships we already have. Additionally, you may live in an area where sharing your faith means that you risk losing your job or even your life – those are no small things.
But here's the thing: If we truly believe that there is one God who made the whole universe, and that true life, joy, and peace are found only in Him – if we truly believe there's only one way to be saved, isn't it the most loving thing to share about Jesus with others? If we care for those around us, we want what's best for them.
As Christians, we have found everlasting peace and joy in Christ. We don't need to be aggressive or fearful in sharing the gospel because we know it's not up to us to save anyone. That is God's work. But we are called to stand firm in the truth given to us (Philippians 4:1). Evangelism is simply like one beggar telling another beggar how they got bread. It's a message of reality – of a holy God, our sinfulness that separates us from Him, and the Savior who died to set us free. A message about a Savior who is coming again to make all things right in the world. It's not primarily about us; it's about Christ. We can talk about Jesus with our friends, family, and coworkers without fear because we know the God of the universe. Let us then be praying for opportunities to share the good news with others.