Witnessing to White Squirrels!
When I was a senior in High School a mentor couple of mine invited me on a weekend long “Lay witness mission trip.” I really had no idea what they were talking about but I said, “Sure, I'll go.” Five us crammed inside a 1980’s model Ford Escort and drove five hours to a very large church in Southern Illinois. While the building was large and impressive, the congregation was small and broken. It quickly became evident to me that the 15-20 members of this church had recently gone through some intensely difficult times that left their faith shaken.
I began to understand our purpose for being there, “To lay witness on this church.” We did a lot in that weekend and bonded quickly with many others that had come together to witness to what was left of this church. I know it is easy to see witnessing as something that we do: As a program or activity, maybe a risky venture for the bold, or maybe some kind of special project.
To some effect this is true, but if we only see witnessing as something that we "do" it will be little more than good intentions, fear, and hard work. For decades, witnessing has taken on many different forms. We still have books that teach us how to witness to Muslims, Mormons, and every other false religion. There are methods on how to witness at work and at home; how to witness teenagers, truck drivers, bikers, and to the person dressed like a clown passing your house while riding a unicycle and juggling bowling pins. We have a "witnessing-made-easy" method for everyone.
Then there are tracts—and the debate in regard to their effectiveness. Tracts are often only as effective as the one handing them out. And we cannot ignore door-to-door evangelism and the role it has had in the church. Again it comes down to the validity of the messenger. The personal relationship has been, and always will be, superior in every way. A consistent, authentic, personal relationship has the potential to produce more fruit in the lives of others than all of the other witnessing methods. I understand how “witnessing” strikes so much fear in the Christ Follower. All of the above-mentioned witnessing methods place tremendous emphasis on human effort and our performance in such efforts.
What does scripture say? Sharing our faith is not as much about what we do, but who we are. Acts 1:8 speaks very plainly to the importance of witnessing. You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will BE my witnesses … We have had a funny way of reading this passage. “When the Holy Spirit comes on you; you will go "do" witnessing.” It really doesn’t come down to how much you know or don’t know. It comes down to your story and the transformed life you are currently living. Who can deny your personal salvation story and your ongoing growth in Christ? We don’t need to go any farther than John 9:25 to see this. The blind man in the story certainly knew very little. But what he did know, he leveraged for maximum effectiveness. When questioned by the Pharisees, the former blind man says, "Whether he (Jesus) is a sinner or not, I don’t know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!" The Holy Spirit wants to empower US, not simply our methods. All the blind man needed was his story. Each and every Christ follow also has a story. How are you leveraging your story?
Continue praying for your Oikos--your circle of relationships. Expect great opportunities as you walk through life with them. Expect the doors to open to witness to them along the way. Expect change in their lives. You may be the X-Factor in their relationship with Christ! Don’t give up!
I am still praying for Southern Illinois Church in the town with white squirrels.
In His Service,