Since I became a Christian, evangelising to others has felt uncomfortable and unnecessary most of the time.
In fact, simply just talking about Jesus to my pre-believing friends has been something I’ve avoided for a long time. Much like the prophet Jonah who ran away from preaching the word to Nineveh, I also ran away from evangelism, hiding in the confines of my comfort zone.
I used to think that the gospel should only be preached to people who were interested in it or shared with those who approached me first. But when I was asked to participate in my church’s new outreach programme, I clearly understood what God meant in Jonah 4:10-11.
He used the story of Jonah to show me that I had been doing nothing to tend to His plant.
But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left — and also many animals?”
I LEARNT HOW TO LOVE
As part of this 10-week programme, we were challenged to reach out to our friends and invite them into our homes for good food and fellowship.
Together with a few of my cell group members, we would host our guests every week, planning for ice breakers as well as the sharing of a testimony and a short teaching from the Bible.
While it sounds like a typical outreach programme, this was a lot more intentional and personal.
What began as half-hearted, fear-filled meet-ups grew into doing life together.
It was love in action – focusing on meeting felt needs, we even helped one of our attendees organise his 21st birthday party! We booked the location, planned the programme, set up the decorations and even hosted the event.
On top of our weekly gatherings, we would also arrange for additional outings such as badminton sessions.
This was above and beyond what I signed up for, but what began as half-hearted, fear-filled meet-ups grew into doing life together. It was radical because it challenged me to cultivate a heart of going all out for the lost, to love like Jesus did.
The hope was that all guests would be baptised at the end of the programme, join our church and then go ahead to start their own outreach groups.
I OVERCAME MY OWN FEARS
Initially, I really didn’t know how to invite my friends for these weekly gatherings. While free food is always attractive, having the Word shared at the end of the session felt like a caveat – the fine print guests had to read before coming, the “but” at the end of a good deal.
As I started thinking about who I could invite, I calculatingly thought about who would be most “suitable”. By that, what I really meant was who would judge me less for inviting them to some Christian event.
I sent out invitations, but I was rejected by all of them. After exhausting all my “suitable” candidates, I just gave up and asked God, how and who should I invite?
Then God began leading me to invite people I never would have ever considered as “suitable”.
One of them included a friend I just met during a work event. I had unconsciously labelled her as the kind of person who would be against such Christian gatherings, thinking that she would be too cool for this. But to my surprise, she was super enthusiastic about coming.
I realised then that my thoughts on sharing the gospel were more centred around my convenience rather than God’s purpose. God has a desire to reach out to His people, and He wants to reach them through me. I learnt that if I were to approach sharing the gospel through my human understanding and abilities, I would end up missing out on being part of God’s greater purpose.
All this while I had been telling myself that by not sharing the gospel, I was being considerate or sensitive.
I believed my way to show love towards my pre-believing friends was to appease their expectations of Christianity (I assumed that they wanted nothing to do with Christianity). And this somehow justified my disobedience of not sharing the gospel.
But I realised that evangelising is actually an act of greater love, towards both my pre-believing friends and ultimately God.
I SAW HOW LIVES WERE CHANGED
I didn’t just measure my friend’s suitability, but also my own suitability in sharing the gospel. A part of my hesitation in stepping out of my “whale” was the very fact that it was out of my comfort zone – a far-off place that required things beyond what I thought I was capable of.
But as I began to step out in obedience in order to invite people for our weekly fellowship sessions, I began to see God move in ways I could never have imagined. Friends who were so hung up on their own plans began to find a greater hope to cling onto.
One friend, for example, asked to be prayed for with regard to his university admission. Another guest, who was hurt by Christians before, allowed our group to be a second family for her to lean into when she lost her job.
The gospel changes lives, and witnessing it first hand only convicted me of this truth.
I couldn’t believe how I relegated Jesus to being the caveat of free food and fellowship when in fact, these could only happen as a result of Jesus. There was nothing wrong with my desire for my friends to enjoy themselves, but I completely misplaced my faith in the reason why they would enjoy themselves.
It wasn’t food and fellowship that brought joy, but the life-changing power of the gospel!
I EXPERIENCED THE JOY OF EVANGELISM
Evangelism is no longer a heavy word for me. It’s no longer something I do while dragging my feet in trepidation. I’ve come to truly appreciate it as an act of love towards God and my friends.
Through the joy I experienced in these fellowship sessions, evangelising has become easier. My heart began to change, and I became motivated to do this for the people rather than for the programme.
Evangelising is not about us; it’s not about our intentions and purposes. But God still works through us and partners with us in accomplishing His purposes. We’re His mouthpiece as well as a living testimony of His love and faithfulness.
I’m now constantly open to share the gospel with anyone and excited to see how much more of God will be revealed in the process.
- What is evangelism to you?
- How have you been approaching evangelism?
- Are there friends you’re fearful of sharing the gospel to? What are some steps you can take to overcome this?