Be on mission. Make disciples. Do ministry where life exists. Sounds kinda vague, right? But if you've answered the call to live on mission right where you are, you've probably wrestled with sharing your faith or at least saying Jesus somewhere in the convo. Below are different accounts from different people who share the same faith and hope to spread it to others.
Up in the Air
On the plane ride home yesterday, I had an opportunity to be obedient to the Lord by stepping out in faith in sharing His love. Airports have been pretty interesting places for conversations and spreading the Gospel in my experience. So, before I get on planes, I always get nervous for three reasons:
1) I have no control over the plane; so if it goes down, Jesus here I come!
2) Southwest only gives out pretzels and cheese nips now, which means my lovely gluten-intolerant stomach cannot have the delicious complimentary snack, which means constantly convincing myself I am not hungry and that my body will not die of starvation from two hours of no snack, which is what I tend to believe.
3) I know the Lord may put it on my heart to talk to someone, and I like to be by myself in my own world and not talk to or worry about the person next to me who usually doesn't initiate conversation with me anyways.
Well, yesterday was not the case for reasons 1 and 3; I did not die from an uncontrollabke situation like I am fearful of, and I ended up praying before I got on the plane for the Lord give me boldness to love whoever is next to me and for the Holy Spirit to move. But I did have to constantly remind myself not to be angry at Southwest for not having any peanuts! I was super fortunate to sit next to a beautiful 16-year-old girl who was headed back to Texas from a funeral—funerals make great conversations to either look like a creepo for getting personal with a stranger or great opportunities for discussing beliefs about Jesus, in my opinion. So, I made conversation in and out of the ride and began to pray for her and pray for what to share, and I asked the Lord what his heart was for her. "Tell her I love her" kept burdening my heart. Of course, my mind often rationalizes His prodding and says I've heard it a thousand times; I know Bible stories and confirmations because of my Catholic background, it will be ineffective and have no meaning.
I moved past that and ended up getting to share how coming to college has really deepened my relationship with Jesus, how much it's changed me and restored my relationship with my mom, and a little bit of my testimony. And as we were about to go our separate ways, I got the chance to wish her the best with her drama and theater plans. Then, I shared the burdening words, "I'm sure you may know, but Jesus really loves you girl!" I was hoping for something amazing to happen: like she'd fall out on her knees and begin to sing praises and make an offering to the Lord like I read once in the Bible somewhere. But she didn't. She just looked me in the eyes and smiled and said, "That's good to know!" But I must say I was super joyful! So joyful that Jesus loved her, and I got to be an example of Jesus chasing her heart. I know she listened intently when I shared my testimony, and I know when I see Jesus and He replays that scene of my life, He will be pleased. I am joyful, peaceful, and excited to be a part of this mission!
The Crying Girl
And then...then there was the crying girl. At least it looked like she was crying. She was parked on the curb at a house I knew to be owned by a single mom and her two wild-child teenage girls. Don’t ask me how I knew this. I’d never met any of them, but we had wild-child teenage boys at the time so I guess the neighbors felt I needed to be informed. As I passed the car and noticed her crying—I thought—I sensed the Lord speak very clearly. That doesn’t happen to me all that often, so when it does I pay attention. I don’t know of another word to use but “speak.” It was more than an impression, which brings to mind an indentation in a pillow or a tombstone rubbing. I make no apologies for the word while knowing it opens the door for a wide range of misunderstanding. It was like, but stronger than, the warmth we feel toward someone who needs something from us, like prayer or a handwritten note or a hundred dollars, and we “just know” God wants us to give it to them. So inescapable that to forebear from doing it is, for us in that moment, disobedience.
I “just knew” the Lord wanted me to stop and talk to her. I told him I must have misunderstood him. The house was at the top of my last hill. I could barely breathe. I was hot and sweaty and, dear Lord, have you seen how purple my face gets when I run? I told him if I stopped I would embarrass her, maybe even frighten her. The truth was, in my current condition I was the one who would be embarrassed. Why would I purposely invite the ridicule of a teenage girl? I kept running. But I couldn’t shake what felt like a directive to stop. I didn’t get far before I turned around. The car was empty by then. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I kept going, backtracking down a hill I hated, knowing I’d have to climb it all over again. I ran and ran and then I turned around. The girl had just closed the front door of the house and was walking back to her car.
“Hey,” I huffed (remember, this was the second time up that dreaded hill), “You’re going to think I’m crazy, but are you okay? I just felt like . . . well, I felt like I should pray for you. And I wanted to make sure you’re okay.” Wouldn’t it be amazing if she said something like, “Oh yes, I was about to give up on life until you stopped! Will you tell me all about Jesus? Obviously you know him. Thank you for stopping and changing my life.” But it didn’t go down like that, not at all. She looked at me like I was the crazy woman I feared she would think I was. She said, “I’m fine,” and then her manners took over and she added, “Thanks, though.” (Maybe she wasn’t such a wild child after all.)
I picked up my pace and began the downward slope toward home. And then, more clearly than minutes before, I sensed God speak again. Twice in one day may be a record for me. “Child,” he said, in a voice not unlike my recently gone-from-this-world dad, a father whose gift was relishment, “You did it. I am so proud of you. Well done.” “But Lord, what is there to be proud of?” I protested, “I almost didn’t do it at all. I almost let my embarrassment keep me from listening to you. What good is obedience under duress anyway?” All I could hear then was the distant sound of a mower and the groan of school bus brakes a few blocks away. No answer, which I took to mean none of my objections mattered to him at all.
In their book Total Church, Steve Timmis and Tim Chester describe the church as a group of “ordinary people doing ordinary things with gospel intentionality.” Something about hearing God and doing what he says to do while running feels right. And if, either in stumbling or in sure steps, I embarrass myself from time to time, well, so be it. What was it I heard? “Well done.” I’ll take that over embarrassment any day.
[blockquote]“Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, and leaving the results to God.” - Bill Bright[/blockquote]