(Prelude: I am declaring the month of February as my spiritual birth month, simply because I could not remember the exact date. I just know it was some time in February 1989. Yes, it's happy 21 for me! Our discussion in Meno about salvation has inspired me to write this article. May you remember your Salvation with profound joy and gratefulness.)
I was only seven then when I first encountered the gospel. Sitting on the bed with me, Mommy tried to explain to her little girl about Jesus Christ and the cross. I can’t recall how it all happened, the exact date, nor can I remember the exact words she said. But one thing I’m certain, on that day, I let Papa Jesus into my heart. At that young age, I believe I had grasped the simple yet important truth about the gospel: I was a bad girl. Jesus loved me so much that He died for me on the cross. I needed to say sorry to Jesus and accept Him. It was very real to me. I remember after, that I consciously made an effort not to pick a fight with my younger sister because I didn’t want to make Papa Jesus sad. At least, it lasted for a week then I was back to my mischievous ways.
With mom’s unwavering effort to bring me and my sisters to church week after week, I learned the motions of being a Christian. I encountered the gospel many times in Sunday School. For some reason, I always hesitated when asked if I was sure that I will go to heaven when I die. It was only in high school that I clearly had the assurance of my salvation when the gospel was explained to me again during my baptismal class.
For a long time, I was playing Christian. I was happy and content knowing that I was going to spend eternity in heaven. I didn’t see the need to share the gospel. Until I saw the need. The turning point came when I was in college. I came across a “theist” philosophy professor. He was convincing a lot of students that God’s only role in our lives stops at being our Creator. Beyond that, He had nothing else to do with us. I was shaken. There I was, and I knew I had the truth. But I didn’t have the courage to stand for it, as I watched many being led to believe a lie. From then on, I resolved to know my faith and learn how to defend it. More importantly, I was resolute to let other people know about the gospel.
And so I enlisted in our church's evangelism training program. In the course of my training, I had to go through the “discomfort” of sharing the gospel to total strangers. I remember going to a park with a team, “ambushing” an unknowing ice cream vendor, and “forcing” him to listen to our gospel presentation for almost an hour (remember, we were trainees, we haven’t perfected our presentation yet). It must be as excruciating for him, as it was for us. At the end of the presentation, he accepted Jesus Christ. We bought ice cream from him, and went on our way to report that one person made a decision to accept Christ. Everyone was happy. After the OJTs, I don’t remember ever attempting to share the gospel again to total strangers. The fear of doing so was just too gripping.
I am thankful to have learned different ways of sharing the gospel. In my quest to be equipped in evangelism, I believe I have learned one important truth: I share the gospel not merely to lead people to a decision, but to a relationship with a Person, and that is Jesus Christ. I have come to believe that evangelism is a process of cultivating, planting, and reaping that grows in an intentional relationship with another person. Everyday, people who naturally cross my path, family and friends, need to hear about God’s message of love… to experience that love... from ME. By God’s grace, some of them have come to know Him. Some, I am praying for, are still in the process of slowly getting closer in the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. More importantly, I have learned that sharing the gospel is not the end. It is merely the beginning. And woe to me (or to anyone else), if I should make it an end in itself.
Now, about sharing to total strangers... every now and then, God does give me divine appointments... and in those instances, I am led to share the Gospel to people I just met for less than an hour. With some, I get to present the whole Gospel and ask for a decision. With others, I only get to talk about God or my faith. This time, without the discomfort or any hidden agenda. Only an overflowing desire to share with them the transforming love relationship I have with the greatest Lover of all --- my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So that they may know Him as the same. :)
"I am not ashamed of the gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes..."