When I arrived at college, one of my commonly asserted doctrines was “I believe in Jesus, but I don’t believe evangelism.” Ironically enough, two weeks ago I led a workshop on the very topic I once hated.
As I began to compile the material for the 2.5 hour interactive study and practical tutorial, I wondered “how am I even remotely qualified to be teaching this?” Why am I teaching this? I am twenty-one, I have no ministry credentials, and I am by no means an expert in evangelism. Honestly, I didn’t really even like the idea of leading this workshop. I agreed to prepare the workshop, only because I think that practical theology workshops are beneficial and I kinda had the time and resources to do so. When I began preparing the materials and praying about how to best convey what it means to share your faith on campus, I was reminded of how passionate I am about evangelism.
At multiple points in the preparation process, I found myself in tears. I cried as I remembered how wrong I once was about the biblical nature of evangelism. I cried as I considered how little people actually share their faith. I cried thinking of all the people who haven’t heard the good news that Jesus loves them. I cried for all the people who have heard the good news but failed to consider it because they see hypocrisy in the lives of those sharing the Gospel and/or the brokenness of this world. I cried contemplating all the times the Gospel was shared in word, but not in deed… and all the times it is shared through social justice and deed, but not in word and truth. I cried interceding for my family, friends, classmates, neighbors, and unknown brothers and sisters all around the world. I cried over how broken the world is and how many people are suffering injustice . I cried as I felt convicted of how little I personally do to share the Gospel and live the Gospel… There were lots of tears shed, but not nearly enough. I cried knowing that I don’t cry enough.
Evangelism is nothing more than “making the Good News known” and so many people are blind to God’s love or living under oppression or aimlessly destroying their lives and the lives of others. There is much to cry over, and I pray that God stirs a passion in me to cry more often.
Yet, none of those tears shed surprised me. The tears that surprised me were the ones I cried when I realized that God has been using me to reveal Himself to others… when I realized that I am qualified to discuss evangelism because to my surprise and by the grace of God, I have begun living an evangelistic lifestyle. Before you start lecturing me on the value of humility, notice the emphasis above and please allow me to further elaborate.
I came to college unwilling to discuss my faith with Christians that I knew, let alone strangers and non-Christians. In the last four years, only by the grace of God, I have shared my faith with my family, friends, classmates, professors, children in unprivileged neighborhoods, homeless people in multiple cities, students of all ages, the elderly, the mentally handicapped, random people on the streets of DC, beaches of NC, villages in Mexico and alleyways of Spain… as I compiled story after story in my mind that I could use as an example of evangelism, I began to cry.
How could God use me to share His Good News? How could God use me to reach people? Does He realize how screwed up I am? Does He realize that there are better people He could send to chat with folk? Does He know that I will mess this up? That I am unwilling? unprepared? unqualified?
Yes, He realizes all of that- even more than I do. Yet, God knows me and has chosen to use me time and time again. He not only transformed my anger at evangelicals to a passion to share the Gospel through word and deed to the world, but He also uses a really messed up person to draw people closer to Himself. As I was leading my workshop session, I teared up while speaking because my heart is truly in this. I want people to know about Jesus, and I want to God to use me to make Himself known.
As I left that workshop session, I didn’t know if it went well. I didn’t know if I facilitated anything that would compel people to share their faith or practically help them do so. I was kinda afraid that I had screwed it up- that I didn’t do a good job of “taking the edge off” of sharing the Gospel. Perhaps I even added some edge and deterred future sharing. I left confused as to what just happened, but confident that God wanted me to complete that task and that He was more than capable of taking the little that I had and using it.
Over a week later… Quite a few the people who participated in the session have indicated that they benefited from the workshop. Once again, to my surprise, God used me to help further His Kingdom.
I am writing this not to pat myself on the back for sharing my faith and teaching others a workshop about how to share their faith… I am writing this as a declaration of the fact that God can use anyone to bring glory to Himself… even me. Everyone is qualified to evangelize because the only qualification is to realize how unqualified you are of convincing anyone to believe anything and how capable God is of glorifying Himself.
My prayer is that my heart will increase in its capacity to break….I pray that I will cry millions of tears and pray thousands of prayers as I understand more of God’s heart for this world. I pray that I will actively get to be the hands and feet of Christ while boldly acting as the mouthpiece of the Gospel. Lord, please continue to break my heart for the disparity between this world and your Kingdom so that I am compelled to act, speak and pray… Lord, help me live an evangelistic life.