Jesus reached out to people—like a woman caught in adultery and a leper ringing a bell, crying, “Unclean!” He loved the lame man, the one with the withered hand, and the disabled by the pool of Bethesda.
The harvest comes in ways least expected. So [when it comes to evangelism], where do you start? Start where Mother Teresa suggested. Begin with the face that’s in front of you.
It could be a neighbor, family member, a teacher at your child’s school, the co-worker in the cubicle next to you, or the checkout clerk at the supermarket. When paths cross, never define it as coincidence. There is no randomness with God.
Three main strategies will guide us in helping bring people a step closer to Jesus.
Understand the ‘Nudge’
Think of a “nudge” as a small prod you give another person toward Christ. It might just be a word of encouragement or a whispered reassurance. A nudge has no great goal or agenda in mind. It’s not an altar call or thrashing an unsuspecting pagan with a family Bible.
It’s a small encouragement. The reminder of a promise. The hint of your support.
You don’t wait for a response. No reply necessary. You simply plant a seed and wander off.
There was a tiny Filipino woman in our condo who cleaned the carpets. She came as quietly as she left. I passed by her in the hallway of our building week after week but never asked her name or paid much attention. One day I thought, “Today I’m going to make an effort to ask her name when I see her.”
I noticed her cleaning the hallway, so I made a detour to talk with her. That was all. Think of it this way: Around the neck of every person is a big sign that reads, “Please help me to feel valuable today.” So I did.
The following week she remembered me, and I remembered her name. I could now greet her by name, and this I did for several weeks. Not long after that, I noticed her showing up in church. And a few months later, at our Easter services, she received Christ.
People are passing by the door of the kingdom, but they don’t realize they can enter in. They need someone to help them step through the passageway. It didn’t take a city crusade for that woman to find Jesus. It just took a nudge.
Tell the Story of Your Life
A person’s testimony is one of the most powerful things he has. People can’t deny or disbelieve your story, because your story is indisputably yours. A testimony involves three simple components: what your life was before you came to Christ, how you came to Christ, and how your life is different today.
I encourage everybody to be able tell their testimony in 60 seconds. If you take longer than 60 seconds, the person you’re talking to is gone. Be able to quickly articulate the spiritual story of your life.
I usually tell people about the time in my life when I began to get some spiritual curiosity. My spiritual curiosity began when I was a sophomore in high school. My mother and father had divorced. I had moved to Oregon with my father, and my mother was in Hawaii. She was dying.
I talked to my dad and asked him to send me to visit her before she died. Their relationship hadn’t been riding on smooth seas toward the end, so he told me to wait until a later date when he could save some money. Two days later, I got a telegram saying my mother had passed away.
In anger against my father and anger against God, I walked the other way and got involved with drugs and an illicit lifestyle. I simply hated everything about God. He had taken my mother.
Time passed. One day, in college, someone invited me to a concert. I loved music. It was a Christian concert, but still I reluctantly went. I heard the musicians’ testimonies, and their lives mirrored mine. I realized that I was not alone in the struggles of life. That’s when my heart began to soften toward Jesus. I was 19. My life is completely different today.
When I share my testimony, that’s about all I ever say. It’s a very simple presentation. Some people say, “Oh, that’s nice for you,” and that’s all there is to their response. But for other people, it’s an eternal beginning. They simply need an example of a life transformed.
Offer the Invitation
An invitation involves deliberately asking a person to go somewhere spiritually. It may begin with a trip to church, a Christian concert, or even a Bible study. Ultimately, the invitation is a step closer to Christ. It’s asking a person to make a move of faith.
This is a step that should never be forced on a person. If they say no, they’re not ready. But once the invitation is given, they begin to consider Christ more seriously. That’s all God ever asks of you—to be faithful to do the inviting. And no matter how they respond, at least an invitation gets them thinking.
An old Hebrew saying was highlighted in the poignant film Schindler’s List. It says, “Whoever saves one life saves the world entire.”
If everyone reached a neighbor, we could win an entire community, and that is the gateway to the entire city. Never forget that just one invitation can open the door to the world. Never underestimate the power of one invitation.
Adapted from Jesus: Pure and Simple, copyright 2012 by Wayne Cordeiro. Published by Bethany House Publishers, a division of Baker Publishing Group. Used by permission. No portion of this article may be reprinted or redistributed in any form.
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