Houston, TX (ANS) – God is at work at all times, and in every place. Being alert to our environment and the people around us enables us to connect with His redemptive activity. Connecting with people and making new friends is not as difficult as we might think. Sometimes all it takes is a smile, a friendly greeting, a comment or a question. Being alert and watching for those opportunities can make a difference in whether we connect with what God is doing in people’s lives, or missing those opportunities. It’s easy to be so focused on our shopping lists that we fail to notice the people around us.
On a recent shopping trip I simply asked a lady, who was looking over the meat selections, “Are you a salmon connoisseur?” Well, that question opened a conversation and she began telling me about her shopping practices. I complimented a store worker and expressed my appreciations for the way they arranged their products in the store. That lead to a conversation about the worker’s recent move from Detroit to Houston. So, I asked, “How would you characterize the difference in the spiritual climate in the two cities?” Those are general and non-threatening ways of connecting and engaging with people that often lead to spiritual conversations.
Sowing Seeds and Sharing Good News
Notice how most people tend to talk to each other more during difficult or crisis times. When bad things are happening in the world, or when people are experiencing great difficulties, it often provides witness and ministry opportunities. Simply offering to pray for someone may be the most appropriate thing to do. Most people, of any religious tradition or none at all, are generally open to receiving prayer. One seldom knows when the Seed of God’s Word will connect with fertile soil. However, being alert and prepared to speak a word of testimony or encouragement is something each of us can do.
Many followers of Jesus have a desire to reach out and minister to others, but have difficulty getting started. An awareness and recognition that God is at work to draw people to Himself can make a big difference in our fruitfulness as ministers of reconciliation and ambassadors of Christ. Think of being a Seed Sower and a Good News reporter. We just seldom know the condition of people’s hearts or how the Lord is at work in their lives until we connect with them. Perhaps it’s as simple as saying something like, “Those are nice shoes, are you a runner?” Or, “That’s an interesting cap, or T-shirt.”
Walking in the neighborhood, on a shopping trip, a visit to a medical center or airport are all places to engage with people. When we are conscious of the fact that we are “On Mission with God,” we will recognize all kinds of opportunities for Kingdom connections. Most of all, it’s the fulness of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling Christ that is central to everything.
Some Benefits of Orality Training
In our Orality Training we observe how people come alive with new excitement and passion for sharing the gospel and making disciples when they learn a few basic essentials. Some of those include the following:
* Realizing sharing God’s Word has power to change lives
* The value of learning a little, practicing a lot, and sharing often
* Making our message and methods biblical, understandable and reproducible
* Training teams, to train as teams and communicating according to the receptor audience
* Recognizing the power of repetition (It is the Mother of all Learning)
* The importance of communal/participatory learning, and the work of the Holy Spirit
* Knowing the benefits and value of the collective memory of groups
* Realizing the power of telling stories and asking questions (sometimes it’s asking questions, then telling stories)
We like to emphasize that Orality is better experienced, than explained. Therefore, our training is based on demonstration, participation and explanation – usually in that order.
Open to Spiritual Conversations
A recent research project has shown that 78 percent of North Americans are open to having spiritual conversations. Yet, that same research showed that less than 5 percent of professing Christians share their faith on a regular bases. The fact is, it doesn’t have to be this way. When ordinary believers realize their true identity in Christ and begin to live out and share that life with others, it puts them on a new path. We often say that it is better caught, than taught. Actually, our faith should be contagious.
It was a revolutionary time in my own life when I realized that the same God who lived in Jesus Christ, now lives in me. That the Holy Spirit is at work today and will use each of His followers to be salt and light and advance His Kingdom. That realization gave me a passion and desire to share that with others. It is encouraging to see how the Lord works when we take simple steps of faith and obedience, and speak out in His name. There is certainly power in the name of Jesus.
Impact of a Transformed Life
I’m reminded of a college student from a South Asian country that I had the opportunity of leading to Christ and discipling several years ago. He immediately began to share his faith with family and friends. He eventually became a missionary to his home country. However, as part of his discipling journey he translated the first through the Bible reading guide with devotional commentary into his native language. It was later distributed to pastors and mission leaders throughout that nation.
We just never know the significance of one transformed life, and the reproducing and multiplying impact. However, we can have confidence that God honors His Word. It can all start by being alert, greeting people, asking questions, making friends, and telling stories (God’s Story and our story). Those simple steps of obedience can result in changing the eternal destinies of those in our spheres of influence.