They grew up in very simple and poor homes (by American standards). They weren't highly educated, but did well in their studies and ministry at our school. I helped get them settled in Thailand with the American missionary who oversaw their internship.
[This is the second part (follow-up) post of an earlier post this week.]
I knew this missionary from previous ministry trips to Thailand, and through relationship with others in ministry. He had several years ministry experience within Thailand and was fluent in the Thai language (a complex and tonal language).
He briefed them on what life would be like in Thailand, the challenges they would face within the culture and with the language. They would begin with at least six months to a year in language school. He also made it clear they would not be able to do much in the way of sharing their faith. This proved to be partly accurate.
A real-life example
It was a big adjustment for these young Filipino women. They had not lived on their own and away from their families. They experienced the sense of isolation all missionaries encounter living in a foreign country. But Filipinos, by nature, are very social beings. They are gifted (I believe by God in a strategic sense) to learn other languages and adapt to other cultures easily.
In the small sparsely furnished apartment they lived in, they began to build relationships. Soon they offered to pray for the landlord and her family. In a fairly short time, they led one of their neighbors into a personal relationship with the Lord. They had developed great favor with the Thai people they lived among.
This is no small thing within Thailand, a staunchly Buddhist nation. In fact, to be Thai is to be Buddhist. Many Thais who hear the Gospel are open and responsive, but afraid they will be giving up their Thai identity if they are no longer Buddhist.
Following Jesus' example
Consider how this took place. These young women reached out in friendship to the Thai people they were living among. Since they were learning the language, they did a lot of listening and asking questions. It sounds like what we read about Jesus as a young man in the temple (Luke 2:41-50).
Too often, what is simple and almost effortless is unappreciated or discounted because of its simplicity. (Click to Tweet) I believe personal, intentional evangelism is one of those things.
Sharing your faith in this simple manner requires no extensive training or education. It requires a willing heart and an interest in others, including their eternal destiny. A knowledge of your own life story, and of God’s story, is also important.
It is helpful to have a sense of how to share your own life story in a simple, brief and genuine way. (Click to Tweet) **
This would take some thought, maybe writing a few things out to be ready to share it with others when opportunity comes.
Knowing God’s story is gained by reading through the Gospels and becoming familiar with God’s story of redemption for humanity. Of course, knowing God’s story can be developed further, but it’s not a requirement to share the Gospel in a simple and genuine way.
The hardest part is to just do it
Being ready and willing is important, but at some point there is the step of actually engaging someone in conversation that requires action on our part.
It's much easier to learn to engage people in conversation without the pressure of having an agenda to “save them.” (Click to Tweet)
Showing interest in others is the first step. Just as the young women did in Thailand, adapt your approach to the people you want to engage in conversation. This requires observation. Get to know them as they are, and relate to them in a way that best connects for them.
It also coincides with the first step of the basic call of discipleship, “If anyone would come after me, let him (her) deny himself...” (Matt 16:24). In other words, learn to be more interested in others than yourself.
Look beyond your own agenda or scheme of sharing your faith. Engage people at their level of faith (or lack of it), and their life experience.
Sharing your faith is not complicated, it's simple. (Click to Tweet)
Here's a summary—
- Know God's story and be able to tell it in your own simple words (IYOW)
- Build relationship with others– get to know them as a person
- Be genuine
- Keep your own life story short and simple
- Be ready for whatever opportunities come to share your faith
** Here is a simple outline for sharing your own life story (testimony)— Guidelines-Pers Testimony_2013
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