Early in Eddie Roman’s Christian life he was a fearless witness for Christ. Sharing the Gospel was an everyday thing for him. But while still a relatively new believer, he had a bitter experience that threw him off track.
“One day I handed a gospel tract to a young lady and it made her angry. She really told me off,” Eddie says. “That stopped me from witnessing again for a good 10 years. It really affected me.”
Fear is a major barrier to cross for many Christians who rarely share their faith. Eddie got through that long period and has gone on to lead an evangelism ministry.
So how did Eddie find his evangelizing voice again? He points to the following three truths that reshaped his thinking.
Nurture a proper fear
Opening up a conversation about Jesus with a complete stranger can be a challenge. You may be reluctant, you may feel you are stepping over social boundaries or you may worry someone will ridicule or snap at you.
“Witnessing definitely strikes fear in many a Christian heart,” Eddie says. “But as we step out in faith for the sake of the Gospel, the One we should really fear is God. He cares more about the person you are talking to than you ever could and God knows all that is at stake.”
In Eddie’s experience, it’s wrong to assume that people are upset whenever God is mentioned. He says, “You’d be surprised how many people—especially strangers—are comfortable talking about big issues. Often, we go right into a conversation. They might say, ‘Oh, I used to go to church as a kid but not anymore.’ Take that opening and you’ve got a dialogue.”
Sow the seeds
In one of His parables, Jesus compared sharing the Gospel to a farmer sowing seeds. All the farmer can do is plant the seed. Then nature takes over. Some seeds may be on good ground, and they will thrive. But some seeds may fall on soil that is too rocky, too dry or too weed-infested, and the seed will die (Matthew 13:3–9).
Jesus was drawing an analogy to sharing the Gospel. You sow the seed of salvation in another person’s heart, but it is God—the Creator of nature—who brings that seed to faith or its death.
There is freedom in this lesson for all who understand. If you witness to someone and that person becomes a Christian, this occurs by God’s grace alone. You can’t take credit. You should rejoice that God let you take part, but don’t overstate your role. God may have sent scores of believers over time to share the faith with a particular person. All you did was likely a small part.
“It’s very clear in the Bible that our job is to plant the seeds of the Gospel and it’s God who makes them grow,” Eddie says.
Though it may not happen often when witnessing, occasionally you may get pushback from someone who is argumentative or snarky, or someone might have a legitimate question. What if you don’t have an answer?
“When someone brings up a question that stuns me and I don’t have an answer to it, that becomes my homework for the next week. I go and get into my Bible and find some Christian authors and websites where I find the answer to the question,” Eddie says.
Over the years, Eddie has learned that a challenging question doesn’t just come his way once. They return over and over again. He says, “By figuring out the answer now, I can answer and help some other people I will meet in the future.”
About Eddie Roman. For five years, Eddie has been producer/director of the Christian television show Way of the Master. The show’s host is evangelist Ray Comfort of Living Waters ministry. Eddie also leads the witnessing ministry at his home church in Southern California.
Carmen Rempel is a young woman who holds no advanced degree in theology. She is quick to laugh while slow to judge, and Jesus is the one she loves above all others. These characteristics make her an effective evangelist for the Lord.
“I can’t go anywhere without talking to strangers about the Good News. I can’t go grocery shopping without stopping and listening to someone’s life story in the soup aisle. That’s the story of my life,” she says.
The following are Carmen’s essentials of witnessing.
Believe the Good News
Foremost, as a Christian you must believe that you are spreading God’s Good News. You must believe what you are saying, whether talking to some sinner on the street or your favorite aunt.
“Is it good news for my next door neighbor? Is the story of Jesus good news for kids and my friend’s parents and that lady I meet when I’m dropping my kid off at kindergarten? For many of us, these questions show where we get hung up because, if we really think about it, maybe we’re not actually so convinced that the Good News is good news because there is going to be sacrifice involved,” Carmen says.
If this is you, develop your faith through basic disciplines of the faith, such as Bible reading, prayer, Scripture memorization, faithful church attendance and observing Communion.
Be honest about the Gospel. It’s a promise of having the presence of God in your life now. But it’s not a promise of a smooth ride in daily life. Living for Jesus may prove the hardest thing you will ever do, but it’s also the best. Look at the people who followed Jesus the closest, the early disciples. Most of them died for their faith.
“Jesus himself said, ‘Pick up your cross and follow Me.’ What part of picking up a cross sounds easy?” Carmen says. “That’s why you have to believe deep down inside that the Good News is good, and it’s good for everybody.”
Tell your faith story
“One of the great secrets to sharing the Gospel is that you don’t have to start at the beginning,” Carmen says. “We get caught up in the mind-set that in order to share the Gospel, we have to sit a nonbeliever down and tell him, ‘OK, listen. There was this garden in a place called Eden, right?’ Then we go on from there. It really doesn’t have to be that difficult. We are really called to share our testimony.”
Your testimony is the story of your belief in and commitment to Jesus. What has He done in you life? Tell that story.
Giving a testimony isn’t limited to your salvation story. Carmen has a Christian friend who gives away large sums of money to ministry every year. When the amounts are reported for taxes, this friend is audited year after year.
“The tax people can’t believe that anyone would give away such a large percentage of his income each year,” Carmen says. “But he does.”
Whenever the subject of taxes comes up, the man has a story to tell. Inevitably, the listener asks, “Why do you give so much money away?”
“It’s the Lord's,” he says, and tells his story.
Borrow stories from Jesus
Maybe you don’t feel you have a strong enough or dramatic enough story to share. Carmen has a backup plan for that.
“The best thing I ever did was memorize the parables of Jesus. The thing that’s so beautiful about these simple stories is that there’s one for just about any circumstance, no matter who you are talking to,” Carmen says.
Suppose you are talking to a non-Christian friend who is telling a story about a dinner she attended. All you have to do is wait for the right opening and say, “That reminds me of a story Jesus told about this guy who put on a big banquet, but nobody came.” Or you make a reference to the Parable of the One Lost Sheep or the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
About Carmen Rempel. At 28, Carmen has been with Youth Unlimited in Canada (known as Youth for Christ in the U.S.) for nine years. She now serves as a chapter affiliate director in Okanagan, British Columbia.
One of the greatest misconceptions held by Christians today is that men and women do not want to know God. But wherever I go around the world, I find ample proof that just the opposite is true. The Holy Spirit has created a hunger for God in the hearts of millions.
I have discovered that at least 25 to 50 percent of nonbelievers in most parts of the world are ready to receive Christ if properly approached,
one-on-one, by a trained Spirit-empowered witness. And I believe that among that number may be some of your own family members, a neighbor, a coworker or a person you do not yet know to whom God may lead you.
Can we afford to be selfish with the Gospel when such overwhelming evidence shows that so many people are hungry for God? By sharing our faith in Christ with others, we can help change our world for our Lord.
When it comes to witnessing, we have the specific commandment from Jesus Christ to go into all the world with the Good News. “And He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation’” Mark 16:15 ESV.
Helping to fulfill the Great Commission is both a duty and a privilege. We witness because we love Christ. We witness because He loves us. We witness because He gives us a special love for others.
The Holy Spirit came to provide the power for you to do so (Acts 1:8). Wouldn’t you like to share with someone else the most valuable thing you have?
What the world needs
All over the world, I have asked two questions of Christians, young and old, rich and poor, new Christians and people who have been believers for more than half a century. I have asked these questions also of some of the most famous Christians in the world. The answers are always the same, no matter who I ask.
What is the most important experience of your life?
“Knowing Christ as my Savior.”
What is the most important thing you can do for another person?
“Help him or her to know Christ.”
If you are a Christian, you undoubtedly would give the same answers to these questions. Yet if you are like the majority of Christians today, you have never introduced anyone to Christ. But you would like to do so, and you know in your heart that this is what God called you to do.
Try this method:
Write a three-minute testimony of your personal experience with Christ. Briefly share:
- What your life was like before your decision
- Why and how you received Christ
- How Christ has changed your life
- Benefits of knowing Christ
- An explanation of what it is like to be a Christian
Learn how to present the distilled essence of the Gospel so simply, clearly, and convincingly that the one with whom you are sharing will be able to make an intelligent decision for Christ as Savior and Lord.
Breaking down barriers
Sometimes witnessing can seem like breaking through barriers. Introducing the subject of Jesus can produce much stress and nervousness.
The first barrier occurs at the mention of the name of Jesus Christ and the value of knowing Him. Once we turn the conversation from dating, fashions, politics, work, sports or any other topic to spiritual things, we have broken the first barrier. It is sometimes hard to do, and it does not always come easily.
The second barrier comes when we present the Gospel. That nervous feeling returns once again. We must blast through this one also because many people, when they understand who Jesus Christ is and what He has done for them, will want Him in their lives.
The last barrier, asking the person to receive Christ right now, is the most difficult. But this is the most important step. Often we tell the person how to become a Christian and then just leave him or her high and dry. Until we ask the person to trust Christ as his or her Savior and Lord, our witness is not complete.
Get ready personally
Personal preparation is the key to becoming a successful witness. Here are four steps to take:
- Be sure that you yourself are a Christian. Commit your entire person—your intellect, your emotions, your will—to Him.
- Be sure there is no unconfessed sin in your life. If some sinful attitude or action is hindering your fellowship with God, He cannot live through you, and you will not be a joyful Christian or a fruitful witness for Christ.
- Be filled with the Holy Spirit. You must appropriate by faith the fullness of God’s Spirit. Invite the Holy Spirit to control and empower.
- Be prepared to communicate your faith in Christ. Keeping Christ on the throne of your life as the Lord of your heart is the best preparation for communicating your faith.
Pray for others
Do you want your loved ones, your friends, and neighbors to come to Christ? Begin to claim them for God as you pray. Follow this example of our Lord, our High Priest, whose prayer is recorded in “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word” John 17:20.
Just as Jesus prayed that the Holy Spirit would work in the lives of His disciples, so we can pray that the Holy Spirit will convict nonbelievers and give them a strong desire to know God. Paul and other writers of the New Testament frequently requested prayer for others as well as for themselves.
Why we witness
Written by Bill Bright
If the idea of witnessing makes you a little nervous, take encouragement from what happened to the apostle Peter. When he started following Christ, he was a lowly, uneducated fisherman, ordinary in every respect. Yet after following Jesus for less than three years, Peter was one of three disciples closest to Jesus.
But all confidence and faith Peter had gained from Jesus was tested the night before the Lord was crucified. After Jesus was arrested and was headed toward death, Peter was asked publicly three times before sunrise that day if he was one of those Christ followers. Afraid of the consequences of the truth, the disciple denied knowing Jesus three times.
Having failed, Peter was soon redeemed. Less than six weeks later—after the resurrected Jesus ascended to Heaven—the Holy Spirit empowered Peter to preach a fearless sermon that moved 3,000 people to salvation and baptism in one day.
The act of telling others about Jesus is described using various words and phrases. These include evangelism, witnessing, spreading the Gospel, telling the Good News and sharing the faith. By any name, it is the act of telling others about the Lord, how He changed your life and how nonbelievers can make Him their Savior. Regardless of your status in the Church—from new believer to the oldest, most faithful member of a congregation—the Great Commission makes every believer responsible for spreading the Gospel.
No one is born a Christian. Someone has to share the message of Christ through personal testimony to each person.
So how can you do your part? Pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the courage and words you need. (For more about this, see a Bible study, “Holy Spirit,” page 78.) Then rely on God for the results.
About Dr. Bill Bright. Bright is primarily known as the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru in the U.S.), one of the largest Christian outreach ministries in the world. Bright died in 2003 but left behind writing about putting faith in practice.
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