God Story
Recognising significant opportunities

One day I realised I didn’t have any friends who weren’t believers. That seemed normal. Except, there was that little verse in Matthew 28 about making disciples. There was that.

Convicted about my isolation from the ‘world’, I began to pray for the people living around me.  When I walked the dog, I would pray for our neighbours as I passed their houses. The people living in the houses on our block were all strangers to me. That made them scary, intimidating.

But in answer to those prayers, God began to highlight opportunities to share my life with the women on my block. Births or deaths, holidays or hospitalisations, I found ways to participate in the lives that were being lived all around me. I talked with them the same way I talked with my Christian friends.

I talked about the Lord in a matter-of-fact way. I felt that I needed to be about one controversial issue only: the gospel. I didn’t try to talk them into my views on abortion, women’s liberation, or gay rights. I was all about Jesus. Just gentle words dropped here and there into the pool of our conversation.

Then I was sent to bed for five months during my last pregnancy, and these women started bringing meals, ferrying my kids around, walking my dog. They had become friends. And one by one, my friends started coming into relationship with Jesus. What a joy!

I started feeling an uncomfortable compulsion to share my experience with every stranger I ran across, but most of the time I was too tired, too shy, or just somehow couldn’t figure out how to open the topic of God or faith. This was demoralising.

Slowly I began to recognise a pattern in those times when I was able to have significant conversations with strangers. Inexplicably, it would start with an affection welling up in me, a “recognition” of someone dear but not yet known to me, like the Japanese woman I sat next to on a flight from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

Her impeccable suit was complemented by perfectly matched shoes and purse, and her make-up and hair were equally stylish. Looking down at my wrinkled blue jeans and comfy shoes, I was instantly convinced that this woman and I had nothing in common. Out of common courtesy, I greeted her in a friendly way.

As soon as she turned to me, I “recognised” her. I had never seen her before, but I somehow cared deeply about her. I hesitated but then asked a couple of questions, and before I knew it, she was reaching into her perfect purse for a handkerchief, weeping as I told her about my relationship with Jesus. Before we landed in San Francisco, we had prayed together, and she was telling me how terribly important, how needful this encounter had been for her.

The Gospels record many times that Jesus was “moved by compassion” for someone and then taught them, challenged them, healed them, or set them free. I am so grateful to realise that I have also experienced the mysterious moving of the Holy Spirit that is described in those passages.

It is my privilege to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and share His love with people all around me. Sometimes a word here or there turns into a life-changing encounter. Sometimes it’s just a seed sown. But I am no longer intimidated by strangers. ‘Witnessing’ is no longer a task; I am simply sharing God’s love and good news with dear ones.

(This story was shortened.)
Source: Jesus Film Project

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