October 28, 2010

Don't Have A Story? Don't Worry About Not Telling It

When I was a little girl and would take shopping trips downtown with my mother, we would sometimes encounter someone on the major streets who would wave their hands in the air, shout about "the end" coming and exclaim the necessity for all sinners to repent. I remember asking my mother what it was all about, and she told me that person thought they were "witnessing." Later, this kind of activity sometimes came to be known as "street witnessing" or "street evangelism: approach a person you do not know, tell them something they're not interesting in knowing, appear impatient or irritated when the listener doesn't respond as you had hoped, brush them off if they don't accept the tract you are passing out, and move on to attack the next person.

Ironically, the following phrase (or something very close to it) has been attributed to Jim Eliot: "the Bible, in its original languages, has no word for missionary, but only a word for witness".

I don't often see the "street witnesses" from all of those years ago. I suppost we live in a less gentle time and passerbys are more likely to take a swipe at someone who says "You are going to hell!!!" Maybe that's a good thing.

Here's another good thing: If I have a personal story to tell about God's grace or goodness, I will not hesitate to speak when God tells me to share my story.

As a witness, I can honestly and openly tell what I know is true because I have seen it, or done it, or both. When God leads me to speak, He has also led someone else to listen. Because I have taken the time to cultivate relationships and live God's love faithfully in the presence of others, I don't need to shout my message at strangers. I am trusting God to bring across my path the people who need and want to hear what I have to say about my own experiences.

After all, it is the good news. The idea that a hurt and broken soul is going to hell is not good news. The truth that a hurt and broken soul can become whole and joyful in relationship with God is definitely good news. If that's my story, I will seek ways to share it.

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