Evangelism—I’m Not Doing It On My Own
by Katie Burns
Lydia of Philippi Believes in Jesus
11 We boarded a boat at Troas and sailed straight across to the island of Samothrace, and the next day we landed at Neapolis. 12 From there we reached Philippi, a major city of that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. And we stayed there several days.
13 On the Sabbath we went a little way outside the city to a riverbank, where we thought people would be meeting for prayer, and we sat down to speak with some women who had gathered there. 14 One of them was Lydia from Thyatira, a merchant of expensive purple cloth, who worshiped God. As she listened to us, the Lord opened her heart, and she accepted what Paul was saying. 15 She and her household were baptized, and she asked us to be her guests. “If you agree that I am a true believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my home.” And she urged us until we agreed. –Acts 16:11-15
Apollos Instructed at Ephesus
24 Meanwhile, a Jew named Apollos, an eloquent speaker who knew the Scriptures well, had arrived in Ephesus from Alexandria in Egypt. 25 He had been taught the way of the Lord, and he taught others about Jesus with an enthusiastic spirit and with accuracy. However, he knew only about John’s baptism. 26 When Priscilla and Aquila heard him preaching boldly in the synagogue, they took him aside and explained the way of God even more accurately.
27 Apollos had been thinking about going to Achaia, and the brothers and sisters in Ephesus encouraged him to go. They wrote to the believers in Achaia, asking them to welcome him. When he arrived there, he proved to be of great benefit to those who, by God’s grace, had believed. 28 He refuted the Jews with powerful arguments in public debate. Using the Scriptures, he explained to them that Jesus was the Messiah. –Acts 18:24-28
Evangelism can be a scary word. It can be in your face, like a man standing on a folding chair with a bullhorn reciting scripture, or it can be sharing stories of faith within a church or even at a playground, where I was evangelized to become a Christian. Now I’m challenged to evangelize, and the Moravian Daily Texts readings of Acts during Pastor Sean’s 7/77 Bible reading challenge have shown me how that may look for me today.
It took me a long time to fully accept Jesus as my Savior. There was a lot of unlearning I needed to do, and I needed time to work that out; time with other Christians who were willing to share their faith with me and to answer my many, many questions. Things like Alpha, Moms In Prayer, and my Bible Study group were wonderful places where I could ask questions and talk about faith. I stumbled into other moments of evangelism too, like a quick conversation at a birthday party when my older daughter was in preschool. The other mom told me how she couldn’t imagine life without her faith, which I found surprising. The Women’s Christmas Dessert events at church during that timeframe had an impact on me too, bringing me to tears seeing “God loves you” on the projection screen. When my older daughter was in kindergarten, her friend’s mom was an example of a person I wanted to be more like. She was so at peace and grounded no matter what came her way with her three kids. We talked about faith and God, and I eventually accepted Christ with her at a Beth Moore conference. All of those people were important pieces in the process that led me to faith as they evangelized me in different ways.
When I have read the book of Acts before, it has made me uncomfortable. However, when re-reading those passages this year, I started seeing the believers written about in Acts in a different light. In Acts 16, Lydia was attending prayer gatherings to learn more; she came to believe and was baptized. She was open to learning and to understanding how to have a relationship with God. She even invited Paul and Silas to stay with her family. Lydia was interruptible and let go of her plans and ideas to allow God through His missionaries into her home. That reminded me of my own search for a relationship with God. Later in Acts 18, Apollos was preaching an incomplete story. He only knew the Old Testament and about John’s baptism, but not about Jesus. Priscilla and Aquila pulled him aside and “explained the way of God even more accurately” (NLT). It’s notable that Apollos wasn’t punished for what he didn’t understand nor was he prideful, but instead was open to being corrected and to learning more. I found this to be freeing—I don’t have to have it all figured out. Even if I should get part of it wrong, God’s there! He’s the one bringing the understanding. He works through me and with me. It’s not for me to convince others of the truth of God all by myself.
God is involved in the evangelism all throughout Acts. Everyone who has shared the Gospel has had God with them, and He is with us as we share the Gospel today. God loves every one of His creations, be them Jew, Gentile, or atheist, although they may not all be ready to accept God’s love. I saw how the Holy Spirit led Paul to places where people were open to the Gospel, and yet how Paul continued to pray for those who were not ready. God didn’t ask Paul to convert everyone, but to show God’s love and pray for everyone. This inspired me to start to evangelize within my own home. I’m married to a wonderful man who happens to be an atheist. Reading Acts this year showed me how I can more consistently show God’s love to my husband and to earnestly pray for him. It also made me aware of things that I do (or don’t do) that bother my husband. Reading the Bible helped me let go of my selfishness and to open up to a heart of service. Loving and serving my husband is one way I can better show him who God is. The Bible has also shown me that it’s not up to me to make my husband believe in God. I also need to let go of any expectations about how or if my husband will ultimately accept Jesus. That’s up to God, too. God’s simply asking me to serve my husband with love, to pray for him, and to have faith that God will make Himself real in my husband’s life. That I can do, with some days being easier than others.
I’ve learned to look at evangelism in a different way this year. Show love toward everyone. Pray for others. Let go of your plans, your expectations, and be ready to follow God and share your faith with others. Sharing your faith can be loving and serving others, a brief comment about your faith to an acquaintance, or deeper conversations with a friend. You may never know how your words and actions will affect those around you, but God does. God is with you as you share your faith with others and He is the one to open their eyes.