How can a young Christian begin to witness for the Lord?
Howard Coles, Coleford, England
If there is one thing lacking today in Christian circles it is obedience to the command to ‘do the work of an evangelist’, 2 Tim. 4. 5. That is not to say that we are all gifted as evangelists but we can still do the work. Sadly, so many of us miss opportunities to witness, but how do we start?
First of all, we need to be living holy lives. It is important if we are to witness that what we say is backed up by what we do, Acts 1. 1. This comes under the heading of abiding in Christ, so that we can bear fruit, John 15. What does it mean to abide? Perhaps we could say that it is having no known unconfessed sin, and listening to, and being sensitive to, His promptings. We cannot do either of these without an active and committed prayer life, and without feeding on Christ daily by reading His word.
Secondly, as the world says, ‘there is no place like home!’ If we cannot witness to those closest to us then there is something wrong. That is not to say that we should resort to constant nagging and thereby cause annoyance, but a day by day godly witness is of great value, getting a word in as opportunities arise. Remember the demoniac of Gadara? The Lord said, ‘Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee’, Mark 5. 19.
Thirdly, it is worth remembering that we are all good at talking, but not so good at listening! If you are trying to start a conversation with someone about the Lord and they are antagonistic, then listen to what they have to say. You will be surprised that you can agree with some things and then you will be able to reply with a word of witness. There was once a Christian handing out tracts in a shopping centre when a passerby refused to receive one and said, ‘All you Christians are hypocrites!’ The Christian was very wise and replied, ‘Well yes, there is an awful lot of hypocrisy and even in my own life I realize that so often I fail God. You see, God’s standard is that no sin will ever enter into His presence and we have all failed. Can you say that you have never sinned?’. The person thought for a while, and a lengthy conversation ensued. Constantly, the Christian, who was well experienced in personal witnessing, kept bringing the subject matter back to the central truths of the gospel. The person went away thinking about what had been said and would never be able to say that he had not heard the gospel.
Fourthly, do not be half-hearted but witness in a way that shows you really believe in what you are saying. Remember, the reality of the early disciples was recognized in this, ‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus’, Acts 4. 13.
Fifthly, remember the work of salvation is the Lord’s. Sprinkle conversation with prayer before, during and after. He is able!