I put up a blog last week whereby I talked about as a kid being passionate about Jesus, but actually pretty clueless of how to share my faith wisely and well with my mates.
A friend who I have recently got back in touch with, wrote this as a response:
You might cringe looking back at “Andy the Evangelist” from the Cavendish (our school) days. But the only reason I am a Christian and work for the church is because of the 13 year old you were.
I thought about this a lot, my friend (Andrew) Evers became a Christian when I was only just about hanging on into church and me and my relationship with God. I had invited him along to a few things happening at church, and then church itself, and –surprisingly he had said “yes” and so most Sunday Mornings the doorbell would go half an hour before the service started (when I had been used to coming in at some-point during the first song).
A reminder that often in our weakness God is strong.
Scripture tells us not to ‘despise the day of small things’ and from an awkward invite to a CYFA group (do people remember CYFA, what happened to them?!) saw a guy come to faith. Fast forward thirteen years or so and I helped with his (then) youth group at Soul Survivor summer festival. A number of his young people encountered God in a real, authentic and challenging way, and several prayed a prayer giving their lives to Christ. I have no idea what has happened to them, or how many are still walking with God, but I am sure some are.
In a way perhaps this is a beautiful real life example of the parable of the sower, from one seed sown has come a greater harvest, we are just called to sow –however clumsily.
It is easy to look back at evangelistic mistakes and feel the blood rush to your head with embarrassment and from that place of feeling like a wally it discourages us from trying again… Satan loves to remind us of our ‘blooper reel’ where as the spirit reminds us that he can even use those mistakes for his honour and glory.
I was talking to a friend after the service last time and somehow we ended up talking about the author Jennifer Rees Larcombe who wrote about her experiences of God whilst in chronic pain in a wheelchair and then later (many years later) about healing, and I remember doing something in RE about the story, and I remember passing around a photocopied newspaper article where she was holding her wheelchair above her head. The thing I most remember about that lesson was what didn’t happen, no one took the mickey, made jokes about being gullible, rolled their eyes or whatever.
I have no idea whether that made any difference to anyone, I also remember having lots of great conversations about God at the Sherwin Arms, the pub near my theological college, and being excited by the ‘normal’ opportunities I had to talk about my faith, but 13 years later (as far as I know) no one has become a Christian since. A strange paradox that when I was doing evangelism “at my best” it seems (as far as I can see) not to have been terribly fruitful and some of my most clumsy attempts have resulted in changed lives.
As I thought of my evangelistic history I certainly would have love to have seen more people come to know Jesus, but success is not based around results but by obedience, and many of us wont know the impact we have, yet one day all our stuttered utterances, moments of bravery and attempted answers to difficult questions will one day be a crown of splendour that we can lay before the feet of Christ, as we stand there for eternity with people for whom we were instrumental in their journey of salvation. This crown goes before Jesus as he turns the water of our evangelistic attempts into the wine of his Kingdom and used by his spirit.