That is the one word to describe my outreach experience on a recent trip with Jesus Film Mission Trips® to the country of Panama. I was there for the 15th international Worldwide Youth Day. It was such an encouraging experience; but I feel I was anything but a clear or persuasive evangelist.
As a second-year intern with Cru’s® Jesus Film Project® ministry, you would think I could better explain and quote the four laws, without relying so heavily on the GodTools® app. But, nearly every time I initiated a spiritual conversation or began to explain the gospel message, I felt tongue-tied and scatter-brained and doubted that His truth was being communicated clearly—even after praying and asking God to guide me. My thoughts were all over the place, unlike other evangelism experiences in the past.
During one day of outreach over the World Youth Day gathering in Panama, my translator friends, Rosy and Rebeca, accompanied me as we approached a group of four young adults who were from Poland but spoke English.
While asking spiritual questions, I began to feel awkward and inept, and my mind swirled with things I could say. But sharing the gospel message just wasn't happening! I read from the GodTools app word for word and prayed God would give this group a spiritual understanding of the gospel despite my inability to properly express it. We asked several of them to read the Bible verses for themselves and then we discussed the significance of these verses and their need for salvation.
Throughout this conversation, it became evident that the people in this group were not understanding what it means to have a personal relationship with God apart from "works." They insisted that what we were sharing was not the same message they heard from their church leader. We eventually said goodbye and prayed that the Lord would use this time to at least plant a seed.
I know intellectually that I am not able to hinder them from coming to Christ because in Isaiah 55:11, God says that His Word will go out and not return to Him empty. But in my heart, I don’t feel like I helped God or was, by any means, a persuasive speaker.
On another day of outreach, Rosy and I partnered again at a local community park. We spotted two college-aged girls sitting by a tree so we approached them. After introducing ourselves, we learned that they were from Costa Rica.
We decided to share the short film, "Delight" from the Jesus Film Project app and then asked questions to learn where they were at in their spiritual journey. Rosy shared her testimony and then I began reading the four spiritual laws on the app we were using, while she translated them into Spanish.
I again became fearful that Jesus' message of forgiveness and salvation wasn't being adequately expressed. I thought that somehow my inability to articulate it would hinder their understanding of their need for salvation. I was nervous. I know that this isn't biblical because God used Moses and his brother, Aaron, to help communicate like my friend communicated on my behalf in Spanish.
At the end of discussing the four laws, we asked the two of them if they would like Jesus Christ to be their personal Savior.
And guess what?
They said "yes," and with smiles on their faces!
I was so happy, surprised, relieved and humbled, and so were they! They told us, "Thank you," for sharing the gospel with them.
Cru's founder, Dr. Bill Bright, shared that successful witnessing is "simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God."
I believe we saw that happen. Scatterbrained me and all!