Debating, confronting, arguing. Three words that make me uneasy. At school, if there was going to be a class debate I wanted the ground to swallow me up. I do not tend to stutter or stammer, but if I am confronted on something challenging which may catch me off-guard, my words begin to jumble and stringing a sentence becomes difficult. My mum always said that I was the peacemaker, thus an argument was not something that I could participate in easily. I tend to shy away from the heat of a debate, a confrontation or an argument. Watching the Leader’s Debate where seven politicians went head to head to discuss the important issues in the General Election 2015 in front of a live audience made me feel nervous and anxious on their behalf! Crazy, hey?
When someone asks me a question about why I believe what I believe as a Christian, I sometimes find myself feeling the same way as if I were in a debate, a confrontation or an argument. Longing for the ground to swallow me up. Jumbling up my words. Shying away. My heart rate increases. I get nervous. I feel that I am about to be ripped apart by someone else’s rationality and argument. I wonder if any other Christian feels the same way? Is it just me? Am I possibly the worst person to share the good news about Jesus with other people? Jesus tells us to ‘go’ and make disciples of all nations. Am I going to go, or am I going to stay put? Send someone else Lord! Not me!
The Lord told Moses to ‘go’, like He told the disciples to ‘go’.
“Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:12
Maybe if God was in front of me telling me what I should say, that would make all the difference. Moses was blessed to have that reassurance wasn’t he? Moses didn’t think so. After these reassuring words from God, Moses said:
“Oh, my Lord, please send someone else.” Exodus 4:13
Yep. That sounds more like me. Let someone else do it. Like Moses who declared that he was not an eloquent speaker (verse 10), I feel that when I am presented with an opportunity to share God’s Word with others, I want God to send someone else. Someone who knows the bible better than me. Someone who can speak rationally, confidently and cheerfully about all I believed in. Someone who knows the answers. ALL the possible answers to ALL the possible questions. Let’s face it though. No one has ALL the answers. No matter what belief or faith a person has (for everyone believes in something), nobody has a concordance filled with the answers to life’s toughest questions. Not everything has been revealed to us. People have a vast array of knowledge and understanding all the same. I would like to believe most people know what is morally right or wrong, even if their moral compass has become somewhat distorted. However, there are blank spaces that have yet to be understood by us. Perhaps as long as we are on this earth we will never fully grasp every answer.
I can have confidence knowing that I am not a walking Wikipedia. Wikipedia is inaccurate in places too! It is ok to not have all of the answers of life. Therefore, I should not let my fear of not having the answers deter me from making disciples. There is no excuse for not loving my neighbour as myself just because we disagree on some fundamental points about life. I guess that is a crucial point to evangelism.
Never stop showing love to anyone, no matter what your differences.
My First Encounter: Islam and Christianity
My heart stirred to write this post because I was troubled recently at how I responded to a Muslim friend of mine when talking about Islam and Christianity. I desperately wanted to understand her beliefs more. I had never had an in-depth conversation with a Muslim about Islam. All I knew was filtered from the internet, the media and from other Christians. I wanted to learn about her journey. To see life from her perspective. To love her. I found it a blessing to have this conversation. My heart raced a little, but it was not enough to deter me to keep asking questions.
When it came to my friend asking me questions, I froze. They weren’t questions about my faith as such, but rather they were about my understanding of important people in the Old Testament, the spread of God’s Word (prior to New Testament Jesus etc) and places that I should know more about like Judea (yikes). There was nothing wrong with those questions. It was just I was caught off-guard. My mind did that thing where it jumbles sentences and words. I could not seem to search my archive of biblical understanding quick enough. I was so busy listening that I felt I hadn’t prepared an adequate response. I felt that I had somehow crumbled beneath the weight of simple questions. I tried to answer, but I felt embarrassed, even admitting that I didn’t know the answer.
Walking home, I felt as if I had somehow failed. Be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you, doing so with gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15). Was I too gentle and respectful that I failed to make a defense? I don’t think so. I think it was important to make conversation and engage. Jesus did that. I wanted to speak to my friend about their faith for a while to better understand them. I am thankful that I was given an opportunity to understand Islam more. I would never have thought I would be given the opportunity to engage about matters of faith with a Muslim. It was very exciting.
Food For Thought
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he asked for them to pray for him and Timothy about the following (Colossians 4:3-6):
- That God may open a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ
- That they would make the word clear, which is how they ought to speak
- Walk in wisdom towards outsiders
- Make the best use of this time [with outsiders]
- Let their speech be gracious, seasoned with salt, so they would know how they ought to answer each person
These words in Colossians are very helpful when thinking about speaking to people who have yet to accept and believe in the Saviour Jesus. It is so important to pray for others before we speak with them about God. The Lord is the one who opens the door, who gives us clarity of speech like He promised to Moses, who gives wisdom to all who ask (James 1:5), who wants us to make the best use of our time (Ephesians 5:16), who says that we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13), who speaks graciously with His words (Luke 4:22), and we are to give an answer for the hope that we have in Jesus Christ to each person (1 Peter 3:15). There will be an opportunity to share my hope with my friend, but only the Lord can make a heart change possible. Prayer is powerful. I pray the prayer that Paul asked over myself as I encounter people who have yet to know Jesus in a heart-transforming way.
Dr. Nabeel Qureshi
Nabeel Qureshi was a devout Muslim and he shares his story of wrestling with both Islam and Christianity. He was a much better evangelist as a Muslim than I am as a Christian I am sure! You just need to hear Nabeel’s story. His friend David who he met at university was willing to answer Nabeel’s questions. David was simply obeying God – ‘go’ and speak with your friend. They wrestled with the Quran and the Bible together. Examining the evidence together. Asking questions together. David loved Nabeel like himself. Nabeel loved David. They had a solid friendship. Nabeel did not become a Christian overnight. It was a process. It took time. Nabeel shares his story worldwide and it has blessed me this week.
Linking up with Kelly Balarie and friends at Purposeful Faith 🙂
6 thoughts on “The Timid Evangelist?”
Ruth, I can so relate. I often feel the same way when talking to an atheist or someone with totally different beliefs. I forgot it is GOD who will change the person’s heart, not me. I am simply a vessel. Thanks for sharing this, friend. So blessed to stop by your blog and read your insights again.
I have felt that tongue-tied feeling where my heart raced and my thoughts ran wild. And while thoughts of what I should have said plagued me, nothing speaks more loudly than a transformed life. So although I may not have the answer to all of their questions, I pray the love of Jesus shines through me as I love and serve them as God’s children. : )
Thank you for your honesty and bravery in opening up here about sharing your faith. I feel very much the same way as you because I feel I may say the wrong thing or jumble my words at the crucial moment that I am sharing my faith. God chooses each of us for different reasons and I believe we all have purpose even if we feel much like Moses did. I love how you were given your moment with our Muslim friend. God will provide more opportunities in the future. Blessings!
You are not alone on this, Ruth! I’m the same way. I struggle when people ask me questions about this as well. I’m always worried I will say the wrong thing or mess up a scripture… This is something I’m really working on stepping out in faith with. Thanks for the wonderful encouragement in your “food for thought” :).
Praise God for this opportunity that he gave you to speak with this Muslim friend, Ruth. You know, sometimes I feel that evangelism falls all on my shoulders, and I am called to be prepared, however God does the work – even when we are bumbling over ourselves. He can work anything no matter how we convey it. I think you did a great job being a listener, we have a lot of speakers. Cheering your heart from the #RaRalinkup on Purposeful Faith.
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