“My parents grew up in Canada and never heard the gospel message until they were in their late 20s. Both of them were searching for God for many years, and my mom always laments that no one told her about Jesus sooner.”
“There are all kinds of people in Canada who are just waiting for someone to tell them the life-changing message of the gospel.”
I will admit that I am wholeheartedly Canadian. I say “sorry” way too often, and I am generally quite proud of our reputation for being a tolerant and peace-loving nation. So when it comes to evangelism and sharing my faith, my “Canadian-ness” can often get in the way. It’s not that I don’t think it’s important to share it, or that I don’t believe in the Great Commission. It’s just that sometimes my cultural biases seem to get in the way. As I’ve talked with some of my friends and relatives who are on this journey with me, I’ve come to the conclusion that many of us are fighting the same internal battles. Here are some examples that maybe you can relate to:
- I don’t want to be too pushy. I will admit that I don’t want to be known as a Bible thumper, and I am always worried that I might seem like a slick salesperson. If I’m really honest with myself, sometimes I use this excuse because I am worried people won’t like me or will reject me because of my beliefs. I know that as a Christian I’m not supposed to worry about such perceptions, but I still struggle with this concern.
- I am waiting for the exact right moment to bring up my relationship with God. This excuse really brings out the perfectionist in me. Like the perfect date, I want everything to be “just right” when I finally share my faith. I hang onto the verse in Ecclesiastes that says there is a time for everything. Unfortunately, it seems that the perfect time for talking about my faith never comes.
- I lack an authentic community connection to those who don’t yet know Christ. If your life looks anything like mine, it is busy—really busy. I can go an entire week without even seeing my neighbours, let alone having any meaningful conversation with them. Building authentic community takes time, and it takes intentional planning—something I’m not always sure I’m willing to do.
So what are we to do when our culture seems to be pushing back on the very thing we know we ought to be doing? How do we remain true to ourselves yet walk in obedience to Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations? Over the last few years of my life, I have tried to live by three truths that have been a great help to me.
- Remember that the harvest is ripe. My parents grew up in Canada and never heard the gospel message until they were in their late 20s. Both of them were searching for God for many years, and my mom always laments that no one told her about Jesus sooner. I always try to remember this when I am feeling timid. There are all kinds of people in Canada who are just waiting for someone to tell them the life-changing message of the gospel. It also helps me to think about the Mission Canada workers who are situated in strategic places across Canada. Most of these places could be described as hostile environments for the message of Christ, yet people are coming to Christ. If Jesus said that the harvest is ripe, then I must believe that it is and act accordingly.
- Remember that we don’t have to be perfect. This truth has been so helpful to me because it reminds me that I don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes the best responses are the authentic ones such as “I don’t know.” This is the part where sharing our faith becomes an adventure—when we rely on the Holy Spirit to speak through us and we can be part of a modern-day miracle.
- We should strategically place ourselves in positions to share our lives with others.
This is part of sharing our faith that requires us to put a bit of forethought into our decisions. My initial gut reaction is to buck this—with the excuse that I don’t have any time to plan anything else in my life. But then the Holy Spirit quietly reminds me that I have time to plan to record my favourite TV program. I am aptly chastised.
Planning for community does take some thought, but it is definitely doable. Coaching my children’s Little League sports, intentionally getting to know neighbours, and really looking at people when I am interacting with them have all presented extraordinary opportunities to share Jesus with others. It might be that the Holy Spirit will place it on your heart to actually move to a strategic location as some of our Mission Canada workers have done. For others, being strategic about creating community will just mean that you will learn to be present everywhere you are. The main thing is that we are listening to what God would have us do in order to be obedient to His leading and direction.
Regardless of which methods God calls us to use, we must remember that He has divine appointments set up for each us to share our faith. If we are willing to lay down some of our cultural biases and partner with God on a daily basis, I believe we will see many people come into the kingdom this year.
Jessica DiSabatino is the ministry development specialist for Mission Canada.
This article appeared in the January 2013 issue of testimony, a monthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. ©2013 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.