My wife, Cheryl, is no wallflower when it comes to being on mission. For that matter, I wouldnt call
her a pushy peddler either, although shes plenty bold when she needs to be.
Cheryl shoots forand hits more often than missesthat fertile middle ground in
applying her social skills to relationship evangelism.
She accomplishes this by listening to people and then
adjusting her presentation of the gospel to their needs. That might sound hard
to do, but usually its not. Ill give you examples.
Cheryl found herself in a conversation with a Muslim woman. A few years ago
we might not have run across people so unlike ourselves. But with the influx of
immigrants from many countries its not uncommon to have a conversation with
someone while sitting and waiting for an appointment.
On this occasion the woman mentioned that she feared returning to her home
country, because some men she knew were brutal to women. Cheryl gently probed
and came to realize this woman was talking about her own experiences. The more
Cheryl listened, the more she sensed the deep humiliation this woman had
Cheryl told her that one reason she loves and follows Jesus is because of
His great respect for women. Jesus elevated women, sharing deep truths with
them or giving specific directions on how to walk away from a lifestyle that
was not worthy of them as Gods daughters. In short, Cheryl spoke to this womans
heart by sharing an aspect of her Saviors character that interested her deeply
and that she desperately needed to know.
Another example involves our neighborhood. Cheryl was invited to join a
group of women who play a game that could be viewed as gambling. She shared her
faith with the group leaders and eventually influenced them to use their
winnings for charity rather than for personal gain. In other words, the few
dollars each woman brought to the game table went to this ministry instead of
to the game winners.
This change to the rules made Cheryl comfortable participating and gave her
a wonderful chance to get to know our neighbors, including several
international families. When she hosted the group for their December party, she
decided to use it as an on mission outreach. She gave each woman a copy of the
JESUS video. She described it as a Christmas gift from her and then gave a
brief explanation of Whose birth Christmas celebrates, why He came to earth as
a baby and why she trusts Him as her Savior, including examples of how Jesus
has changed her life.
Again, its worth noting that such a personal story at a neighborhood party
in December might have seemed superfluous a few years ago. Who wouldnt know
about Christmas? But things have changed. Cheryl had several Hindu women
gathered in our living room that day. (By the way, at least one of them reports
that the JESUS video has made an impact on her family; her son is allowed to
watch a video after school, and he often chooses that one. In factits his
This video gift-giving anecdote might sound like Cheryl was more at the
pushy peddler end of the social graces spectrum, but I dont think it fits that
category for the following reasons: Over a series of months Cheryl had been
playing the table game with these neighbors and had learned about each of them.
She had gotten to know each one well enough and had shared herself deeply
enough, so that, when she gave the videos, the gifts seemed like a natural
extension of who she is.
You see, over time they learned that Cheryl had made a conscious choice to
trust Jesus, and her love for Him had grown deeper over the years as she
studied His promises and found them to be valid in her own life. So naturally
she wanted to share a video about Him with these people she had grown to care
about too. It was an act of loving them rather than selling to them.
So, wallflowers, take heart. Step out in faith and lean on our Lord for the
sensitivity and boldness He places in our hearts.
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board, SBC, and
author of Beneath the Surface: Steering Clear of Dangers that Could Leave
You Shipwrecked and Forged by Fire: How God Shapes Those He Loves
(Broadman & Holman, 2002 and 2000).
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC