You've been an acquaintance with someone, bordering a friendship, for some time. However, this person is about to move, perhaps interstate into a nice apartment with nice flowers surrounding it, and next to the beach having a nice view and cool breeze... ahh you think... I would love to live there. You realise this will be the last time you will ever see them. You engage in a friendly, casual farewell conversation.
Then it hits you. This person may not yet have received Jesus into their life as their personal saviour. You start to wonder if you should say something, but then again, what could you do? You start thinking it will be alright if you let it go this time... there's probably going to be someone else to approach them, right? Your hands start to sweat up and butterflies fill your stomach as you dread what must be your responsibility... Finally, you decide to walk away, and let it be.
It is not very often a situation this personal comes up for me. Sure, I talk to complete strangers about Christianity quite a bit, but this is a special time as it is with a person I've built up a more long term rapport with. As Christians, it is important we notice these occasions and react.
Here's one way you can view people in the world, as fitting in either one of two baskets: A person saved through Jesus, or a person subject to eternal suffering in hell. We are told to "Snatch others from the fire and save them." (Jude 23)
I have heard it takes, on average, a person to hear the gospel 7 times before they finally take the next step to receive Christ as their saviour. By taking a step out in faith and presenting them with a Bible passage, you could consider this as a seventh of a life that has been saved.
Some things to remember
The important thing to remember is no one comes into God's kingdom except through his calling. It is not through our own abilities. All we do is take a step out in faith and obedience, and leave the results to God. This should take a huge load off your shoulders. For this reason we should also give all credit to God for the miracles he performs in our lives.
I hear the phrase "led a person to Christ" a fair bit (I do count this as a blessing), and while I consider this a whole lot more accurate than one saying "I saved a person". I think a better attitude to have is rather "Christ led me to a person, and then he did the rest too!"
What to do? A checklist
Here's a good list of steps to help you when you're feeling nervous and wondering what to say.
1. Don't over-think what you are going to say. We can step out in faith knowing God will provide us with the words to say.
2. Pray before you approach them. Ask God to provide you with the words to reach them and pray they will respond. He is faithful and will answer you.
3. Approach a person with love and joy in your heart (and all the fruits of the Spirit). When a person sees the supernatural love and joy in your life, they will be drawn to it.
4. Don't fear. There is no need to fear the outcome, how the conversation will proceed or even how they will react.
The Bible says: "For you did not receive spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship."(Romans chapter 8 verse 15) Embrace this.
Jesus says: "And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."(Matthew chapter 28, verse 20). Everything is in his hands and under control (despite how we may sometimes feel). He will never let you down!
5. Throw in a Bible verse or two: "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart." (Hebrews chapter 4, verse 12), and let them know Jesus loves them.
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans chapter 5, verse 8)
"Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me." (Revelation chapter 3, verse 20)
6. Don't be prejudicial, assuming a person probably won't respond and it doesn't matter if you talk to them or not. At the end of the day, we don't know how close a person is to making the change to ask Jesus into their life, so it is important we do respond to the opportunity provided to us.
Remember a last chance to tell somebody about Jesus may be the final straw to bring them to salvation.
Tim Robertson is from Sydney, and likes to write about recent learnings in the hope that other people may also benefit from them.
Tim Robertson's previous articles may be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/tim-robertson.html