I was blessed to join a group of individuals recently with a heart to reach out to people in Cairo, Ill. This town on the southern tip of the state is a fraction of the size it once was and is plagued by poverty, crime and despair.
Speaking to others about Christ is my passion, especially in a street ministry setting. The analogy I use is that the army of God needs boots on the ground, and I enjoy the march.
We were sent out two-by-two in Cairo, just as Jesus illustrated with the disciples. We were given a small tract called “Your Life (A New Beginning),” which could be used as a conversation starter. We were to inform the individual that this little booklet had valuable information on obtaining a good life, then ask them how their life was going.
On the first day I felt some trepidation. I would vacillate between complete trust in the Spirit’s leadership, followed by strict attention to the tract. Although I knew the tract was simply a tool, I found myself concerned whether I’d covered all the bases, more focused on my presentation than on the individual’s reaction or response.
A “cold call” is never an easy form of interaction, especially in witnessing. Having just a few minutes at the door, our purpose is to offer the ABC’s of salvation and hope for follow-up and for growth to come later. Nevertheless, we sometimes fall into “Christianese” while conveying the message, which can result in more confusion than clarification. And on that first day in Cairo, I found myself far too focused on checking the talking points in the tract.
As a group we had prayed numerous times, but in this wavering between trust in Him and desire to complete the presentation, I knew the Lord was beckoning me to a new place of reliance on Him.
I can honestly say I love to talk and I love people. I’ve often said my spiritual gift is beneath my nose and my spiritual calling is to “love people into the Kingdom.” So the question is: What do I love to talk about? Answer: people coming to a real relationship with Christ.
For me, having a “gospel conversation” is a natural process, as natural as any other conversation, if the subject matter is about something or someone you love. The Word of God reminds us that we are equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17) and we are always to be ready to give an answer to everyone for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:15).
If we have been mandated to “go and tell” as the Great Commission instructs, are we to conclude that God would purposely make fulfillment of that call difficult? I believe not. His word cites in Deuteronomy 30:14 and Romans 10:8 that the word is very near us; it’s in our mouths, which means all we have to do is open them. Be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to speak His truth through us as yielded vessels.
There in Cairo I asked the Lord to allow me to be natural, sensitive and intentional, using the gift He had given me, the gift of sharing, whether it be a through a booklet, a testimony or conversation about the commonalities in our lives.
The next two days were significantly better because I released the idea that I had some sense of responsibility for the outcome of a person’s decision. With each day, I felt more liberated to have natural conversations.
At one house, an individual of the Black Hebrew Israelite religion informed my partner and me that we made a good team. This was strictly due to how we presented the message in a natural, non-threatening manner. The man was willing to listen because we didn’t so much “present” the gospel; we simply talked about the Savior.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Jacqueline Scott, a member of Dorrisville Baptist Church in Harrisburg, Ill., serves on the Illinois Baptist State Association’s (IBSA) board of directors. This article first appeared in the ISBA news journal, the Illinois Baptist.)