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Walk With Me
It’s always difficult to know how to “share” the Gospel, but perhaps it isn’t as hard as it seems. Sharing and caring have a lot in common.

Someone has said that Christians and non-Christians have something in common. We're both uptight about evangelism. That's me. Uptight. Too often I'm too busy or too uptight to interact with people who do not share my view of the world. But lately I'm beginning to understand that I don't have to be Billy Graham to have an impact. I don't have to be Josh McDowell to have an answer.

… what people need is…the reality of a relationship…

In fact, it's okay to be myself.

On a recent book tour, I found myself seated beside a psychologist. Within five minutes of takeoff he had correctly diagnosed me as a Christian. "I've had lots of bad experiences with Christians," he confided.

"Really?" I said, rather excitedly. "Me too."

He laughed at my response and soon began talking about his family, his life and his job. "I counsel people with a rare disease. I'm sure you haven't heard of it," he said, "It only affects about one in several thousand people. It's called Huntington's." Wow, I thought. This is probably the biggest surprise I ever want to experience on an airplane.

"Huntington's?" I said, "That's ...well, pretty close to home. It's in my wife's family. Three of her siblings have it. She's being tested right now." For four hours we spoke of Huntington's and the role it had played on my journey into trust. We spoke of our favourite sports teams and the human condition. We talked of airline omelettes and the Bible. "I grew up in the church and I've been turned off by religion," he said, pouring himself another drink. "Me too," I answered. "I tried it for awhile, but it's a lousy substitute for a relationship with Jesus." He turned my way. "This may sound crazy to a psychologist, but I'm not sure where I'd be today if I didn't live in constant communication with Someone I can't even see." He smiled and shook his head slowly. "No," he said. "In my experience, it's not crazy at all."

When we parted ways, he kept shaking his head. "You've given me a few things to think about," he told me. I assured him that he had done the same for me.

Sometimes I wish I had more answers.

Sometimes I wish I had more charisma. But I'm beginning to understand that what people need more than either of these is reality. The reality of a relationship that affects the way we respond to everything around us.

Joni Eareckson Tada, who has spent most of her life in a wheelchair following a diving accident, once said, "Nothing will convince and convict those around us like the peaceful and positive way we respond to our hurts and distress. The unbelieving world—your neighbours, the guy at the gas station, the postman, the lady at the cleaner's, your boss at work—is observing the way we undergo our trials." And, I might add, the way we respond to the trials of others.

A few years ago, a simple story had a profound impact on me. Two neighbours were as different as day and night in the way they looked at the world. One was a lifelong Democrat, the other a Republican. One was a solid Christian; the other wouldn't darken a church door if his life depended on it. But for some reason they got along. They knew that discussing business or politics or religion was a surefire formula for disaster, so they stuck with talking about their marriages, their kids and the yard work. When the non-Christian's wife was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer and died in three short months, it was his Christian neighbour who stepped in.

Recalling the night of his wife's death, the husband wrote, "I was in total despair. I went through the funeral preparations and the service like I was in a trance. And that night after the service, I just wanted to be alone. I left and went to the path along the river in our town and walked all night. But I did not walk alone. My neighbour—afraid for me, I suppose—stayed with me all night. He did not speak; he did not try and get me to go home; he did not even walk beside me. He just followed me. When the sun finally came up over the river the next morning, he came up to me and said, `Let's get some breakfast.'

"I go to church now, my neighbour's church. I do not really like the pastor's politics sometimes. But a religion that can produce the kind of caring and love my neighbour showed me is something I want to be involved in. I want to be like that. I want to love and be loved like that the rest of my life."

We may not have all the answers, but each of us is capable of this much. In a world characterized by loneliness and despair, we can reach out in love to those around us. Or, as St. Francis once said, we can "preach the Gospel all the time; if necessary, use words."

Phil Callaway is the author of It's Always Darkest Before the Fridge Door Opens (Bethany House). Visit him at www.philcallaway.com.Phil Callaway is the editor of Servant magazine, author of a dozen books and a popular speaker. His web site is: www.philcallaway.com.

Originally published in testimony, March 2007.

 

 
 
 
 

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