Anna and I walked down the sidewalk trailing Ardennes St. on Ft. Bragg, our destination, the Airborne PX, looming in front of us. We followed the footsteps of two of the men in the ministry, who’d put this whole thing together. They called it recruiting, and it was basically a practice of going out and sharing the Gospel with people and/or inviting them to the Bible study that happened on post every Tuesday night.
I’d confessed to Anna several times that I’d never done this before, that most of the times I shared the Gospel with total strangers or talked to them about Jesus, it was while I was in a coffee shop, or when I went out to eat with someone and I would talk to our server, or something…come to think of it, that’s not all that different from what we were trying to do today.
Lately I’d been overwhelmed by guilt—not conviction, as in that of the Holy Spirit, but guilt, as in that of the enemy—concerning evangelism. Kat had written to me about her and Bree’s last semester excursions out onto Pratt campus to evangelize their fellow students. Several guys in the ministry consistently shared the Gospel with everyone (everyone) they talked to, from cashiers, to gate guards, to servers, to people walking down the sidewalk. All of these were meant, I believe, to keep me reminded of the lost in coffee shops, in the commissary or Wal Mart, at the gym, the places I spend most of my time, and to give me momentum in talking about Christ with strangers. But I think the enemy quickly twisted this one on its head, and instead made me feel guilty about not sharing it with EVERYONE and being perfect in my sharing, thus making me want to not do it all, which of course played into my flesh and my own selfish desires and laziness.
Anyway, one of the men in the ministry, Pat, decided that he was going to go recruiting. Yes! This was the perfect opportunity to make myself uncomfortable for Christ. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? They say “no,” they reject it completely. And it’s okay. Because the result is not up to me, and all God has called me to do is be obedient and faithful.
Can you tell how much I have to psyche myself up for this? It’s bad. And I wasn’t always like this…Or maybe I was. I guess there’s a difference between when you happen to have a conversation about Jesus when you’re doing something else, like studying at Barnes and Noble and whatnot, and when you go out with the purpose of “My sole reason for being outside of the house right now is to talk to people about Jesus.” Why do things suddenly become more intimidating? When I sing “Send me, I’ll go,” with Lecrae, do I mean it?
“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes, first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.” (Romans 1:16)
But am I really not ashamed of the Gospel?
And so I grabbed Anna and together we went onto Ft. Bragg about an hour before Tuesday night study and sought out people to talk to. I decided that I needed to talk to at least one person. Then I decided that I would talk to any women that were there. Then I decided I wasn’t going to do it because it would be awkward for the guys we were with. Then I realized that was stupid and didn’t make sense. Then I was back at square one: I just need to talk to one person.
Random piece of news relevant to this post: I have now moved out of my and Jake’s house and in with a Navigator ministry family in order to learn how they do marriage and parenting and life through Jesus. Yeah 🙂
So, as I walked out of the house today to go forth and conquer Ft. Bragg (or, at least the act of talking to one person on Ft. Bragg), I called “I just need to talk to one person! That’s it!” And the lady of the house called to me, saying, “Yeah! And you can’t fail!”
Oh, right. I can’t fail! God has called me to do this thing, to talk to people about Him, and He has not called me to defeat!
Not to make this anti-climatic but excuse me while I make this anti-climatic. So Anna and I walked into the Airborne PX, and stood there awkwardly while the two men just went for it. I eventually saw a girl standing with who looked like her father.
I walked up to them, introduced myself, explained why I was talking to them and where I was coming from, and they responded super well. I had a conversation with the Dad about his experience growing up Catholic, and asked him how that affected his life now, and as he responded with it not affecting it at all, I got to challenge him to step back into it by coming to Bible Study. That part felt kind of weird. But it’s okay! Because we, like, had a conversation, and it wasn’t too awkward, and they received it well!
After the end of that conversation, Anna and I sat outside and talked for a bit, then we went back inside and joined the guys where they were in line getting food at Subway. I then noticed a female soldier waiting for her food in the line at the restaurant next to us. I approached her like I had the Dad and daughter, and she responded tiredly. I quickly learned she was on staff duty, which is where soldiers are on duty at their brigade or elsewhere for 24 hours. So it made sense that she was tired. But she’d just come to Ft. Bragg after 2 years in Japan (Wow!). And so we talked about her career mostly, but I did get to invite her to study and exchange numbers, though not explicitly share the Gospel. My desire immediately after our talk was to more clearly share the Gospel, even if the person seems to be religious…or something, because I think that’s where I’ll get pushed more outside of my comfort zone. How would I share the Gospel intentionally? What kinds of words would I use? How would I seek to consider and protect the other person from feeling talked at or like I’m some kind of salesperson?
And so I talked to a total of three people, and the whole experience was not nearly as intimidating or uncomfortable as I thought it would be. I knew that I HAD to do though. I had to break free of the guilt by being obedient regardless of the guilt. And I feel like God was being very gentle with me through the people He gave me to talk to…I still don’t feel like I did an adequate job, but I’ll learn, I think, and I’m sure I’ll experience rejection and defensiveness the more I do it, but I’m thankful that He let the first time be easy.
Now the desire I have is to have that mindset all the time…I CAN talk to at least one person about Study, or about Jesus specifically, or use talking about Study to talk about Jesus when I’m studying at a coffee shop…or when I’m at the gym…or when I’m going grocery shopping. I want to not struggle with this intimidation factor anymore. It is possible, and I can do it, because God has not called me to defeat, and I am not ashamed of the Gospel.