Don said the simplest way to evangelize is just tell someone that Jesus loves him. He would walk up to anyone, stair them right in the eyes and say in his deep voice, “Friend, I’ve got great news for you. (Pause) Jesus loves you!” He said it with much conviction and he liked its simplicity. Even though it was short and sweet, he believed in the power of Jesus’ name. Many times he would remind me how powerful His name is. He counted on that power when evangelizing. He also reminded me that once we make a contact the Holy Spirit was there to finish the job. All we had to do with people is engage people.
He talked to anyone, anytime, and any place. Waiting for a table at a restaurant was like a prime time evangelical event for Don – all those people in one place, with no place to go. He would talk to every person if he could. If one person wasn’t interested, he would just go onto the next. He was 90, but his passion for Jesus gave him all the energy he needed to shuffle around a lobby and talk with every person he could.
People would have several responses, but the only one Don cared about is the one when people would be receptive to hearing more about Jesus, or those who wanted share in their love of the Savior. Don wasn’t interested in making a contact complex. He believed in and trusted the good old methods to evangelizing – being direct and to the point. “Friend,” he would say to a person waiting for their table, “do you know if you are going to heaven when you die? Would you like to be sure?” This approach cuts right to the point and I believe it still has its place.
My favorite direct approach is, “Where do you worship?” I usually have some lead-in into that question, but I love that question because it cuts to the chase, especially when I only have a moment and I am prompted to connect with someone. That question catches everyone off-guard. They usually don’t understand the questions, so I look right into their eyes and ask the question again, but I add, “Where do you go to Church?”, or I might ask “Where do you worship Jesus?”
When I ask this question, I have the expectation that everyone is a Christian. The way I see it is, the world (the general consensus of the human race) thinks that religion is a personal matter, and that we all should keep it to ourselves. And for the most part, if you are religious, then the world treats you as though you are living in the past. I believe it is the hopeful expectation of atheists that at some point religion will become extinct. They see the truth in science, and the world expects everyone to buy into it without reservation. That is why I expect everyone to be a Christian – because the truth is plain to see, so I have the attitude that I expect everyone to buy into the Gospel without reservation. I believe it is time to turn the tables, and this is my way of doing it.
Asking people where they worship only has a few responses: I don’t worship; I do worship and I have a Church; I do worship and am looking; and I do worship, but not Jesus. Regardless of the response, there is a role I have. If they do not worship at all, I have an opportunity to introduce them to Christ. If they already have a Church, ask about it, and usually compliment the church, “Sounds like a wonderful place to worship…”. If they are searching for a Church, I tell them about my Church, and give them a business card with service times and address. Or, if they worship, but do not worship Jesus, I see if they are open to learning about Jesus and then I will talk about who He is. But, if they are disinterested then I simply smile and say God Bless you and move on. I do not try to corner them and convince them. Ultimately they are responsible for themselves. I will say a quick prayer, though.
It is our responsibility to respond to promptings, but I do not believe it is our job to pester a person who is not interested. It is not my job to save every soul I encounter, but it is my job to answer the calling. Here is what Paul says about salvation:
19 They know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them. 20 For ever since the world was created, people have seen the earth and sky. Through everything God made, they can clearly see his invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature. So they have no excuse for not knowing God.
21 Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn’t worship him as God or even give him thanks. And they began to think up foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. 22 Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. 23 And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. Romans 1:19-23.
To expound upon this could be a whole sermon or two, but the bottom line is, we are responsible for ourselves. And atheists and those who rebel against God, that included me at one time, only have to recognize nature as being one of Gods domains. And when it comes to worshiping, they may not worshiped birds, animals and reptiles, but they do worshiped something. Take the Apple iPhone – when people wait overnight in the streets to get the new version of the phone, they ultimately worship it.
In the case when I meet an atheist, I realize that either through God’s divine power this person will give himself up to Christ in our meeting, or, and more likely, I realize that I am one of many people this person will encounter who will invite him to accept Jesus. Pray that the person is bombarded until one day he accepts the offer. But I realize it is probably not going to be me, so I feel very compelled and very strong about putting it all on the line.
Atheists like evidence and things that are tangible in this world. So when I have an opportunity I tell them that when I look back at my life I see the evidence of God in my past, and that I continue to see the tangible effects that God has in my life now. Using the words “evidence” and “tangible” is a tells a person, “No, it is not on faith alone that I believe in God; I have indisputable evidence that God not only exists, but is active in my life.” Either the atheist is going to be intrigued by my attitude, or he is just going to think I am just another crazy Christian kook. I only care if they are intrigued.
It is this mentality that Don had that allowed him to be bold. In restaurants we would order our food, and then get up and walk down the aisle. We would stop at a table and make a contact. (See Lesson 3: Make Contact) The contact may end up being a conversation, or simply a nice complement and then we would move on. What I found is, people were receptive to us stopping by. In fact, a few times we met people who were new in town and who were Church hunting. This allowed us to introduce our Church to them.
Other times I have found myself and Don praying with someone who was going through a really difficult time in their life. I have never had anyone treat me poorly. Nine out of ten times, if I see a cheerful family, or a couple out on a date, they do not mind having people stop by and compliment them. That is the worst that can happen, you tell someone they have a beautiful family, or they make a beautiful couple… Start with that and see where it goes.
Another direct way Don would evangelize is by asking people if they had any prayer requests. This could be people sitting at a table that we made a contact with, a cashier, a waiter or waitress, and anyone waiting in line. Any contact we made, we would ask if they had any prayer requests, and Don would often volunteer me to pray with them right then and there. Talk about pressure. This is why it is important to me mindful of God as often as possible, you never know when you need to be in that right mind to pray for someone.
Every waiter or waitress that served us, Don would ask if they would like to say grace with us, or at least if they had prayer requests we could include while we bless our food. This is an excellent habit to create. Whenever my wife has an opportunity to pray for another woman, she will. It is very simple. Just interact with people, you have opportunities all day. Simply say, “you know we love to pray for people, so if you have any prayer request you feel comfortable sharing with us, let us know and we will pray for you.” It is amazing that a majority of the time the person will give us a request. If the opportunity is there, we will pray with that person right then, or we will pray over the request as soon as we are alone.
Make yourself available to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Seek out His direction. Be out in the public as much as you can so that you can affect lives. As well, if you are out and about, it is good for your health. Don’s direct approach is wonderful when you are meeting people for the first time, and you only have one opportunity. It is also great when you are out to eat, or in line at the grocery store.