Wednesday Vespers this week covered the topic of evangelism. Jesus commanded his disciples in Matthew 28 to "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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you" yet many of us are less than enthusiastic about evangelism. Many of us assume that evangelism is someone else's job. Why? What is evangelism in the first place?
Evangelism is about sharing God's love with those around you. Two participants in vespers tonight shared exactly what this means. One person shared a recent experience he and his wife had in an airport while waiting for a delayed flight. A woman who could not speak English very well needed assistance. Fortunately, his wife spoke the same language as the person needing assistance so the couple was able to provide someone who was a world away from home with very little English language skills. The couple ended up eating lunch with the same woman and the woman noticed when the couple paused to pray before their meal. The woman made a connection between the couple's generosity and their Christian faith and this led to a conversation about faith and church.
Another participant in vespers, a member of our church, shared a story about stopping to help a man who was injured on the side of the road. The person had suffered some kind of trauma to his head and was in no condition to walk. The church member assisted the man with his injuries and provided him a ride home. The church member provided this assistance in the middle of the workday on his way to visit a client. Of course, this incident made the church member late for his appointment. Surprisingly the client remarked about how busy he was that day and was happy that the meeting started late!
These two stories demonstrate the essence of evangelism. It is about paying attention to the circumstances and the people that God puts into our lives. Next we have to show, like Christ, that we genuinely care about that person. In other words, we have to form an authentic relationship with our friends, neighbors, and others we come into contact with on a daily basis. Then when that person is ready we may have the opportunity to share our faith with others.
If you are interested in reading more about forming authentic relationships with your neighbors, check out Get Their Name: Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships by Bob Farr, Doug Anderson, and Kay Kotan.