Do you find it difficult to share your faith with someone? As a pastor, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that sharing my faith is challenging for me. Evangelism is not one of my spiritual gifts plus, I have not had that many positive experiences when I did share my faith. I recall one afternoon years ago the deacons of my church split up into groups of two and we went and knocked on the doors of folks living in the neighborhoods surrounding our church. Our goal was simply to invite folks to church. The experience was not a good one. My partner and I ended up waking up someone from a nap. At another stop, we got in a long, rather heated discussion with one gentlemen who wanted nothing to do with faith. Finally, the worse stop was when we intruded on a lady who was sunbathing in her back yard. When she heard our car door shut, she covered herself with a towel, stood up and started cussing at us to get off her property. That type of evangelism was NOT for me.
My limited attempts at evangelism have not given me much confidence in helping people to share their faith. This was brought into clear focus when I recently received a phone call from Tom Kenney. Tom and his wife Sharon are members of our church and Tom called me to ask if I had any suggestions on how to share his faith with his sister. This is his story in his words.
On February 10th I received an unexpected phone call from my brother-in-law, Gerard, to let me know that my sister Jennie had been admitted to Hartford hospital in Connecticut. Jennie had been diagnosed with a tumor on the left side of her chest and it had attached to her heart. She was diagnosed with stage 4 metastatic lung cancer. She also suffered several mini strokes and had to undergo emergency abdominal surgery due to an intestinal blockage caused by blood clots. News like this is always shocking, especially for Jennie who just turned 50 years old.
After hanging up the phone, I had two immediate thoughts, the first was to pray for Jennie, and the second was that I needed to get to Connecticut to be with her as soon as possible. First, I asked God to bless Jennie with the comfort and peace that only He could provide. I also asked for a miracle of healing. My next thought was, “I don’t know if Jennie has accepted Jesus as her personal Savior and Lord.” It’s something we never discussed. The next day Sharon and I began the eight-hour trip to Connecticut. As we drove, a flood of emotions, memories and shared experiences with Jennie led me to repeatedly ask God to help my sister.
When we arrived at the hospital, Jennie was in pretty good spirits, considering her recent surgery and cancer diagnosis. We met with the doctors and the plan of care was for her to receive chemotherapy every three weeks to extend her life to about a year. She needed to get stronger before chemo could begin, however that plan was thwarted when several blood test results prevented her from beginning the chemo. After several weeks, Jennie’s oncologist asked
to meet with us again and the news was grim. Jenny had blood clots that were not able to dissolve and they were located near her jugular vein, as well as her subclavian vein near her heart. The doctors were concerned that a blood clot could release and cause her life to end at any moment. The best-case scenario now was for her to go home and
receive hospice with a life expectancy of 2 to 4 weeks. This was obviously crushing to Jennie as well as the family.
I had two wishes for my sister at this point. First, that the Lord provide her with as much peace and comfort as possible, and second, but more importantly, that the Lord provide her with the assurance of eternity in heaven. I called Todd
to seek his advice and guidance on how to have that conversation with Jennie.
When I (Todd) received Tom’s phone call I shared with him my own limited and often unsuccessful attempts at sharing my faith. We decided to pray and ask the Lord for His guidance and help. After we prayed, I was led to suggest that Tom just be himself and share his faith with his sister out of a place of his love for her. We decided that the best course of action was for him to share with her what the Lord has done in his life and how he now has peace and assurance and then leave the results to the Lord. I was led to encourage Tom by reminding him that God was going to be with him during this conversation and, more than anyone else, it was God’s desire for Jennie to come to faith in Christ. I felt like the Lord, through the Holy Spirit, gifted these ideas and suggestions for me to pass along to Tom. None of this was
So, what happened? Tom picks up the story: I called Jennie in the hospital that same evening and asked her if I could share a very personal story with her. She said yes. I shared with her how I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal
Lord and Savior, and asked her if she knew the Lord, and if she knew for certain where she would be going when she left this life. She said, “I think so.” I asked her if she would like to be certain, and she said “yes.” I asked her if she would pray with me. The Holy Spirit led me through a series of prayers that included the good news of the Gospel. As the Holy Spirit guided our prayer, Jenny repeated our prayer, and she accepted Jesus Christ into her heart and soul as her personal Lord and Savior. My other sister, Donna was also in the room visiting, and I asked Donna if she was ready to accept Christ. Donna said, “Yes!” And I was blessed by the Holy Spirit to be able to lead Donna through the same prayer, and Donna also accepted the Lord. God is good!
Once again, God had taken an unexpected tragedy and turned it into good. Before I hung up, I told Jennie and Donna
that they both gave me the greatest gift they could ever give me in my entire life, and that they also provided the same gift to rest of our family because now we know they have eternal life and they will experience the Glory of God forever, and that we will see them again one day. Praise be to God!
When Tom called me to tell me what happened all I could say was, “Amen! Thank you, Lord.” Two people came to Christ because Tom shared the good news of Christ. Here’s what I’m learning about how to share my faith: Pray!
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit’s help. Ask God to help you say the right words in a loving way so that people can feel the
love you have for them and the love that God has for them. I think the most effective form of evangelism is when it comes from a place of deep love and care for the person with whom you share your faith. It’s also important to remember that the Lord is with us as we share our faith and it is His desire for people to know and love Him, just as you and I know and love Him. I thank God for Tom’s willingness to share his faith. He gave his sister the thing she needed most in her final days, hope in Jesus Christ. It is a hope that does not disappoint. May God bless us as we share our hope in Christ with others. May we share our faith in Christ prayerfully, lovingly and authentically. May God bless Bethel Baptist Church.