When it comes to evangelism, I’m a pretty slow learner. Fear and timidity often hold me back from obeying the Holy Spirit.
Several years back, I was delivering pizza for extra cash. I would spend hours sitting in a booth talking with the other drivers between deliveries. I ended up befriending one of the guys and soon our conversations turned spiritual.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile (Romans 1:16).
I felt a nudge from God to give him the book The Case for A Creator, by Lee Strobel. But fear and doubt held me back, so the book stayed dusty on my shelf. My pizza delivery days came to an end and I moved on. My score on that evangelism test felt like a dismal F. I was stuck feeling like I really missed the boat.
Fast-forward two years. I was packing for a summer of teaching on a nearby island. I stopped in front of my bookshelf and prayed, God, is there anything I should bring? My eyes focused in on Blue Like Jazz, by Donald Miller. I grabbed it and drove to the ferry terminal.
When I got there, the summer rush of vacationers had caused a huge delay, so I decided to go sit on a bench and read the book. A young college student walked by and asked, "What are you reading?" We were soon deep in conversation. I was able to share some of what authentic Christianity looks like to me. Then the announcement came to return to our vehicles.
As I was driving onto the ferry, I sensed the Spirit saying to me, Give him the book. This time, I was determined to obey. I walked around the vessel again and again, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. Just as we were getting back into our cars at the end of the ferry ride, there he was, only a few cars back. I walked over and told him I felt God wanted him to have the book; he accepted it gratefully. I felt the wonderful joy of obeying the Holy Spirit.
I learned some powerful lessons that day:
- God is a patient coach. He understands our fears and is willing to work with us to chip away at them. He’s more than willing to give us second chances at evangelism and to cheer us on in the power of his Spirit.
- Fear robs us of joy. We feel so alive with passion and purpose when we obey God’s prompting to share Christ with someone. We miss out on that when we listen to fear instead of to God. When we keep in mind the incredible joy set before us, we have strength to step out in boldness.
- God is not hung up on our past. We may be stuck feeling guilty about our last evangelistic shortfall, but God is already looking forward to the next amazing opportunity he has for us.