By: Emily Watkins
1 John 3:18, “…Let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.” (NLT)
“Love is the overflow of God in us that joyfully meets the needs of others.”
When it comes to evangelism, we often tend to complicate things. Yet the truth is that we do not need to be expert theologians to reach the lost. Hollywood portrays evangelism as a one-time deal made by loud-mouthed evangelists loaded with a long list of well-prepared arguments. Not only is this shark-approach to evangelism ineffective, but my experiences while living as a missionary in Poland have shown me that it is the exact opposite of what true evangelism is like. Only an experience of love can open a person’s heart to a message of love. That is why the first step to effective evangelism is always genuine love for the person you are reaching.
When I was fifteen, I was part of a Polish Folklore dance group. Being part of this group was something out of the ordinary for me at the time, but I knew it was something the Lord had called me to do. When I went on my first dance camp, I found out why. Just days before the trip, Natalia joined the group. From the moment I met Natalia, I noticed that she was severely depressed. Later, after my friends and I had caught Natalia cutting her arms with a razor, I found out why. Just a few weeks ago, Natalia had watched her three closest friends die right before her eyes. She and her friends had stopped to buy suckers in a neighborhood shop. Natalia had run back to get another sucker, but while she was gone, her friends got hit by a speeding car while crossing the street. This scene kept racing back and forth in Natalia’s head, and ever since, Natalia had serious thoughts about suicide.
It was hard for me to know how to help Natalia. I did not have the answers to her many questions. So, I asked God for guidance. One evening, Natalia and I went on a walk during which I was able to share God’s love and hope with her. After we got back, we sat down on the stairs before our cabin, and Natalia cried for the first time since the accident. I prayed against the depression and suicidal thoughts that had been weighing down Natalia. As these evil spirits left, Natalia asked that the Holy Spirit would fill her heart with love, joy, and peace instead. At dinner, everyone immediately noticed a difference in Natalia. Even though the people in my dance group were non-believers, they said that they saw a new light in Natalia’s face. When they asked me what had happened, I was able to share part of my faith with them too.
Natalia’s story always encourages me to keep evangelism simple. “Give light and the darkness will disappear of itself,” one wise man once said. The first step in evangelism is breaking up the ground of a non-believer’s heart to plant the first seeds of God’s love. Eventually, with proper care and nourishment, these seeds can grow into a fruitful relationship with Christ.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank You so much for using me as a messenger of Your love despite my flaws. Help me to love others just as You love them. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Think About It:
What was Jesus’ attitude when he was reaching the lost?
How can you show Christ’s love to the believers and non-believers around you?
Pray regularly for the non-believers around you (your family, friends, neighbors, etc.). If you’re a visual person, you could put pictures of them on “prayer board” in your bedroom or in your Bible to remind you to pray for them.
Be the light. Take the risk of sharing your faith with your friends through your speech and actions.
Ecclesiastes 11:6, “Keep on sowing your seed, for you never know which will grow – perhaps it all will.” (LB)
Luke 4:18-19, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach…to proclaim…to set free those who are oppressed.” (NASB)
© 2010 by Emily Watkins. All rights reserved.