If readiness is the oxygen of evangelism, then I was suffocating. In fact, I
was in bad trouble any way you sliced it. I was behind in my work, unprepared
for a talk I was to give and racing against the clock. As a result, I almost
blew a great chance to share Christ.
Months earlier, when Id accepted the invitation to speak on
How to powerfully share your faith with a world in need, I thought piece of
cakethat subject is right up my alley.
Its a talk Ive given many times. I tell what weve learned about how to make
our personal presentation of the gospel as effective as possible, including
such advice as being ready and being sensitive to our listeners heart. In other
words, I advise others to be prepared and to gauge the receptiveness of the
people they encounter.
I always try to include fresh anecdotes illustrating successes of the
dedicated on mission Christians
reaching people not only in North America but throughout the worldpastors,
missionaries and laypeople who are breaking through barriers inch-by-inch to
form the relationships, to create the opportunities, to assess their listeners
hearts for fertile ground and then, finally, to share Christ with someone
This processor whatever variation suits the on mission Christians
personality styleis the basic structure for personal evangelism. It assumes a
sensitive attitudeone I was lacking on this day.
After a hectic morning of meetings, calls emails, I finally stuffed some
literature into my carry-on bag and headed for the airport. Although I know the
subject, I still needed to prepare my talk with new insights and examples, and
I intended to sort my thoughts in writing. Ill jot some notes on the
planenot a great plan but time had run out, and I needed a solution.
I arrived with no time to spare. Buckling my seat belt, I became aware of
the chatty passenger settling in next to me. Avoid eye contact, I
thought, rustling some papers to make clear that I had work to do and couldnt
treat this flight as some kind of joyride.
He tried to engage me in conversation, so I mumbled something inane. When we
were airborne, I began to use the tray table as a desk, hunching over my
important task. I gave him no encouragement, but this guy wouldnt let up.
Finally, he broke into my train of thought by calling attention to the
Hebrew words on my wedding band. This piqued my interest, and I soon found
myself conversing, albeit reluctantly. Seems he knew some Hebrew, explaining,
Im Jewish. I answered, Thats funny, sos my Boss. Do you work for a large
organization? he wondered. Oh, its worldwide! I said, smiling.
I learned this man had a captivating story to tell, now that Id given up
concentrating on my speech and focused on him. Recently divorced, he was
emotionally wounded and deeply in need of spiritual counsel. He was so
tenderhearted that he actually cried a bit as he shared the pain of separating
from his wife.
He wasnt just some babbling traveler; he was on a bumpy life journey. He
needed to be heard, to be cared for. After much in-depth discussion, I told him
he needed to know my Savior.
He was desperate, and I believe he heard me. He did not make a decision for
Christ during our flight, but weve been in touch since then. Who knows what God
may do with this relationship?
I did not succeed in jotting notes for my talk.
Instead, this man became my talk. The experience illustrated better
than any three-point sermon why sensitivity to the people around us, and a
willingness to adjust a bit to satisfy their needs, are essential for effective
Timing is like the air we breathe, a necessary ingredient to our well-being.
I nearly missed this opportunity because my priorities were wrong, I was not
prepared, andwhen I first saw this manI didnt sense that he was ready. Im
thankful God was gracious to overlook my humanity and allow His Spirit to claim
the moment, and Im reminded to pray for sensitivity to the soul ticking in the
seat next to me.
Bob Reccord is president of the North American Mission Board, SBC. His
latest book is Beneath the Surface: Steering Clear of Dangers that Could
Leave You Shipwrecked (Broadman and Holman 2002). He is the host of
the Baptist Hour which airs on more than 400 radio stations and at
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC