Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The Missionary and the Failed Evangelism Effort

I left Sam in the truck with the ac on high and dashed in to the big box store for a few items. I don't even remember what I needed now, but it seemed like an emergency at the time.

For once, the cashier line was shorter than the self-check line, so I took my place in the queue. I swiped my debit card as the cashier rang up my purchases. 

A man's voice behind me said, "You were made for missions. Is that right?" 

The cyberstalker problem wasn't yet solved, and I was still a little on edge. I jumped around, instantly on the defensive. "What did you say?" 

I might have seemed a little fierce, because the nearly-ninety-year-old man looked surprised. "You were made for missions. Is that right?" 

I felt sheepish when I realized he had read the back of my T-shirt, and tried to save face. "Yes," I agreed. "I was made for mission, and so were you." I fully expected to share Jesus with him in the next moment.

"I went on some mission trips with my wife," he told me. 

Where did you go? What did you do? What group were you with? I was full of questions and he didn't know the answer to any of them.

"Well, I went along, but mostly it was my wife who liked it," he admitted.

I tried again to get the conversation back on track with a profound comment about Jesus and missions. It fell completely flat. I wished the cashier would hurry. 

At last, the gentleman brought the conversation back to his desired objective. "I was thinking you might like to get to know me better. Do you want my number or will you give me yours?"

I was completely speechless. He didn't want Jesus. He wanted a date.

As I grabbed my bags off the carousel, I looked back at him. "I don't want to know you. I was just talking about Jesus." I'd spoken truth without thinking. I didn't care about him

I didn't literally consider him a notch on my evangelism belt, but that's how I acted. 

I rushed out the door, my face hot and heart racing."Some witness I am," I thought. 

It was, without a doubt, the worst possible example of a missionary sharing Christ. I hope the T-shirt reader didn't judge Jesus by what I said, but I'm afraid he might. 

The memory of my incredible witnessing fail still stings, but there was more truth in what I said than I'd like to admit. 

Jesus sat down at the well and talked with the Samaritan woman, and she knew He cared about her before He changed her life. He wrote in the dirt as the men threatened the woman caught in adultery, and she knew He cared about her first, too.

If I want to be like Jesus, to share Him with those around me, my first effort should not be talking at them. It should be caring for them. 

We live in a dark and lonely world. People don't want to be a statistic in our evangelism tally. They're desperate for someone who cares. Will we be the one who reaches out? 

Let's do more than talk about Jesus. Let's share Jesus by being His hands and feet, by loving as He loved, caring as He cared. 

We were made for mission. Let's live like we believe the truth we know.

"Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." Matthew 28:19 esv
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In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: Visiting Celebrate Recovery and Seeing a Miracle of Grace 
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