Hey, What's Up with the Key Chain?
By Michael Bauml
For many of us, evangelism can be a disturbing word. We imagine Bible- thumping preachers or door-to-door evangelists. Yet we can't picture ourselves in these roles. We may even be afraid to attempt to evangelize because our lack of knowledge may be revealed. However, we may be practicing what I call personal evangelism without even knowing it! Let me share three simple steps to personal evangelism.
Step One - Don't Hide Your Lamp Under a Bushel.
In my opinion, a form of evangelism is anything we say, do, or display that makes someone think about our Lord and Savior. The religious symbol on a key chain, the cross on a necklace, the bumper sticker on a car, or the icon on a desk at work are all visible items that make the viewer think of God.
I have been blessed to have my own business. Therefore, I have freedom to display what I desire at my work place. In my waiting room there is a Bible, various pamphlets, and copies of church newsletters. You would be surprised if you knew how many people read these materials (that includes "The Evangelist" newsletter!).
Personally, I don't talk religion with everyone that comes into my office or reads the religious literature in the waiting room. However, many times people are searching and they ask me questions. This is the clue that they are receptive and the door is open. I have had many wonderful discussions and gained insight into people and their spirituality. One woman asked me to pray for her husband since I was a man of God. Whether I am or not is ultimately God's decision, but it was inspiring to hear someone say it.
Within our own families we evangelize by saying prayers before meals, reciting our daily prayers, reading the Bible, and attending church services. Regularly repeating these activities sets a pattern of behavior for our spouses and children. However, it also makes a statement about the importance of prayer and worship in our lives.
We also evangelize with our actions. We are created in the image of God. When we act in a manner pleasing to Him, we reflect His image to others. Being kind, compassionate, charitable, meek, and humble are just some of the ways to reflect the light of God. Such actions will also encourage others to do likewise. Yet we must also avoid becoming boastful in our efforts. Instead, we should be gentle and understanding with the love of God and His church in our hearts. However, if you encounter those who give you a hard time because of your beliefs, just remember, "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake" (Mt 5:10)
Through these simple actions, thoughts of God and spiritual dialog can be established. This takes us to Step Two.
Step Two - Know Your Faith.
To spread the Good News, you must know what you believe and why. Therefore, I recommend that you regularly read the Bible, go to Bible studies, ask questions, and attend as many church services as possible. Many different articles and books are also helpful. (Father Andrew distributed the book entitled The Pearl to everyone in the parish. It's a good place to start if you haven't already read it). Deacon Danial can also recommend many readings for you as well. Being prepared in this way not only helps you evangelize, but also enables you to better know and serve God. Occasionally, you will find someone who is extremely interested in our faith or asks questions that you can't or are unsure how to answer. This brings us to Step Three.
Step Three - Refer Them to the Experts and/or Invite Them to Worship.
If you are unable to answer people's questions, refer these inquirers to Father Andrew by giving them one of his business cards. You can also refer them to a particular book or to the St. Luke web site. In addition, the St. Luke chat room is a good forum for questions and answers. Along with this, increase your own knowledge by finding answers for yourself so you can be better prepared for future encounters. When other people express real interest in our faith, invite them to worship at a church service. Either offer to bring them to the church, or arrange to meet them there. A familiar face goes a long way towards making visitors feel comfortable in strange surroundings. Don't lose heart if they don't respond right away. It may take years, or they may go elsewhere for their answers. The important thing is that you planted a seed! Give it time to grow!
You need not fear evangelism nor have your own TV show to evangelize. Be yourself, do what you can, leave the rest to God, and everything will fall into place. Let us try to reflect God in our daily lives and not hide our faith under a bushel. In this way we can help bring others to God and enrich our spiritual lives in the process.