By Mark Littleton
The mechanic stared down at the wheel-balancing system. You got to get the
bubble right in the middle, or it doesnt work, he explained. I had someone
burst my bubble awhile ago, and it was a real pain to get a new one.
I laughed to myself as I thought of something to say that might lead to a
conversation about Christ. And then, suddenly, I was saying it, I had someone
burst my bubble a little while ago, too.
He looked at me. You a mechanic?
No, I said, I became a Christian.
He shook his head and turned away, obviously not interested and maybe a tad
hostile. I decided to press on. Do you have any beliefs about Jesus or
He mumbled something about going to church now and then.
I finally stammered, If you ever want to talk about it, I live around here.
But I understand your feelings. A lot of people dont want to hear about
He turned to me, looking intrigued. Some of you people do get on my nerves.
But thanks for not pushing me. I think about it now and then, but I just aint
I smiled. I appreciate your honesty.
Unfortunately, I didnt have another opportunity to talk to this man, but I
remember praying for him after that meeting. I especially remember how he
softened up when I became a bit more conciliatory, more
When you share the gospel regularly, you soon discover that some situations
provoke hostility. Jesus warned us about this, saying, You will be hated by
everyone because of My name (Matthew 10:22). John added to the idea
when he said in 1 John 3:13, Do not be surprised, brothers, if the world
The gospel arouses hostility. It often polarizes families, pitting the older
against the younger, or vice versa. In my own family, Ive encountered much
anger and resentment about my sharing the gospel. Now that our families all
have grown-up kids, its even more difficult, because theyre afraid my kids will
try to indoctrinate their kids. How can you defuse this hostility? Ive found
four powerful ways.
1. Listen to them. Let them speak up about their
concerns and desires. Ask some questions. Give them a chance to voice their
Ive often talked to my brother about the gospel, and though he still seems
confused, over the years he has softened some of his rhetoric about it. One way
Ive found that really works with him is simply listening. Often he says
something that sparks in me an idea about how to share.
When you show an open, listening attitude, people arent so put off. They see
youre not trying to ramrod them. They see youre willing to hear out their point
of view, too. Its a good way to get them off the defensive.
As you talk to people, be a listener. Pray that God will show you an opening
as you listen, something said that might open a door.
2. Assure them that you will defend their right to believe as
they see fit. In public speaking, Ive often shared the gospel
with my Toastmasters and writers groups that I attend regularly. On several
occasions, Ive noted that some people looked hostile and upset as I spoke. In
thinking about this, I asked the Lord what to do, and it seemed that He led me
to say this to defuse the hostility: Some of you are a little put out that Im
sharing religion in this non-religious group. But I want to assure youI would
and will defend your right to do the same, and your right also to believe as
you choose. I may think youre wrong, and you may think Im wrong, but lets
establish an open dialogue. You can tell me about your views, and Ill tell you
about mine. Maybe well find some common ground.
This has always opened doors in the groups and made people feel more
comfortable. Ive never had anyone say, after I made a statement like the above,
that I had no right to speak as I did.
3. Be caring. Offer to pray for them, if they
wish. When we show that we care, people become more willing to listen. One
of the first things I do when someone talks to me about a need or struggle is
to offer to pray for the personright then and there, or on my own time. Ive
never had anyone tell me no, and often people appear appreciative, even if they
dont share my beliefs. Someone has said, People dont care about how much you
know until they know how much you care. Jesus won more souls by caring about
them and their situation than he ever did by preaching at them. In fact, in all
the situations where we see Jesus sharing the gospel (the woman at the well,
Nicodemus, the Syrophoenician woman, etc.), his caring attitude shines
4. Continue to offer your friendship even if they dont come around to your
beliefs. Some time ago I had an old friend call me. Hed begun a new business
and wanted me to join him in this new endeavor. He got me involved in the
business for awhile, but I soon found it didnt work for me and I quit.
Afterward, he said to me, Our friendship is more important than my business.
Lets keep in touch just the same.
I appreciated his candor and commitment. It made me realize how foolish it
is to drop people from our lives and prayers just because they havent crossed
the gospel line. Who knows when God will work in their hearts? In the meantime,
we should remain friends whether they ever believe or not.
These are powerful ways to win friends and converts, too. Use them when you
share, and Im sure, like me, youll find they often open doors instead of having
them slammed in your face.
For more information about how to share your faith more effectively check
out The NET and the One-Day/One-Hour Witnessing Workshop. Order The NET by
calling 866-407-NAMB or visit www.namb.net/catalog. Download materials for
the One-Day/One-Hour Witnessing Workshop at www.namb.net/onedaywitness.
Mark Littleton, of Gladstone, Missouri, is a writer,
speaker and author of 63 books.
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