Taken from The Lutheran Witness
There were more than a few occasions . . . when I would stand on the steps of a home . . . and secretly, quietly hope no one would be home, or that no one would answer the door.
I confess I started my journey as a witness for Jesus in a much more timid way than you might expect.
As a young boy, my family moved fairly often. We were always active members of local LCMS congregations, and while it must have taken place, I have no lasting impression of being encouraged to share my faith. I simply don’t remember that it was explained to me how, where, and when I might be able to witness.
As the years passed, and especially as I began my training for full-time church work, I was convinced that sharing the Christian faith was the most important task of the church and individual Christians. But I still didn’t know how to do it.
I took the one evangelism course the seminary offered when I was there, and I was very involved in preparing and training evangelism callers while I was on my vicarage. But even with this background, truth be told, there were more than a few occasions—on vicarage and even in the first parish I served—when I would stand on the steps of a home, having knocked on someone’s front door, and secretly, quietly hope no one would be home, or that no one would answer the door.
As I look back, I confess that I was nervous and afraid. What if I couldn’t remember the outline I had so carefully memorized? What if there were questions I couldn’t answer or, heaven forbid, if either my message or I were rejected?
But I remained convinced that Jesus was calling me—Jesus is calling all His children—to share Him with a world lost in sin. So in spite of my apprehension and timidity, I didn’t stop praying, going, and trying to tell others about Jesus, the only Savior of the world.
I’m delighted to tell you now that my faith-sharing journey is much different. I can’t point to one incident, one moment when “everything changed” and I lost my timidity, but gradually it has changed. Now I see witness opportunities not as fearful occasions but as Spirit-led moments to grow in relationship with others who also need to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. I can honestly say I look forward to the daily opportunities God gives me to share words of Christian encouragement and Gospel proclamation.
I have come to realize that as important and helpful as they are, it isn’t my theological training or my calling to be a pastor that gives me the ability to share my faith. Rather, as I think about sharing faith in Jesus, two things have become most helpful and important for me.
First, I am convinced of the love of God in Christ for me. Through faith I am certain that I am a precious, redeemed, blood-bought child of God, and I can’t help but share “what I have seen and heard.” Second, a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders when I realize that it is not my “job” to convert (or “evangelize circles around”) the person with whom I hope to share the Gospel. Rather, it is my true prayer and sincere desire to come to love—with the love of Christ—the person with whom I am talking. I want to love him or her enough to really listen to them, to get to know them and then through my witness to share God’s Word in a way that truly touches their lives “where they are.” God is changing lives and changing the world through such Christian witness!
Jesus said, “As the Father has sent Me, so I send you” (John 20:21). He calls each of us in this great church body to be involved in sharing the precious, life-giving message of the Gospel—every grandpa and grandma, boy and girl, mom and dad. Jesus calls us—you and me—to be the “salt of the earth” and “the light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). He wants us to flavor our conversations with the message of the Gospel, bringing the light of Christ into every relationship we have.
God puts us in places and in relationships with those all around us who are “unreached and unchurched.” With whom might God be calling you to share the Gospel? Your neighbor, co-worker, or classmate? The person sitting next to you on the airplane? An uncle or cousin? Your parents?
The apostle Paul once encouraged a young pastor named Timothy with words that still encourage us today: “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline. So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord” (2 Tim. 1:7–8a).
By God’s grace, my confession of timid evangelism has now become a strong confession of faith-sharing. My prayer is that God would stir up a mighty outreach movement in the LCMS so that 2.5 million of us hear Jesus personally calling us to frequently, individually, and intentionally share our faith throughout our daily lives as God gives us opportunity! God bless us to that end.