Regrets from my summer vacation

Ahhhh! Summer vacation. Warm sand between my toes, the hot sun driving the memory of the cold winter far, far away. Every year, I look forward to those few days we are able to get away and relax as a family.

Last summer, we had an opportunity to stay in a house near the ocean. It was a wonderful time and we treasure the memories we made with our children.

But I also have a few regrets.

You see, my husband and I try to be purposefully prepared to share the gospel no matter where we go. And while we needed a break from work and the pressing matters of life, we had no desire to take a break from our role as Christ’s ambassadors.

We usually keep a well-stocked Be Ready Box in our vehicles, with a variety of gospel materials we can easily give away to those we meet. And when we know we’re going to be staying with someone or meeting new people, we usually grab a few extra books specifically geared toward them.

Our regrets began when we borrowed a larger vehicle for our trip to the coast last summer. You see, we forgot to transfer our Be Ready Box over to the borrowed van. We also forgot to pack any extra books to have on hand for hostess gifts and the like.

When we realized that the owner of the house where we stayed was a grandmother who desired to share the Lord with her children and grandchildren, our first response was to hurry to our suitcases to grab out The Lamb for her grandchildren, By This Name for her and her children, as well as a few copies of The Story that Matters. We were so disappointed that we had nothing to leave for her to find after we left…

During our week at the coast, we kept running into another family whose young girl loved to play with our children. Her parents weren’t believers, but as we conversed on a number of occasions that week, we felt we’d built up enough of a rapport that they would have accepted a copy of By This Name. Except we had none to give…

Near the end of our stay, we met a family with whom we had mutual acquaintances. As we talked, they asked questions about our work at GoodSeed. It was clear they were curious and wanted to know more. But we had nothing to give them…

And there were other, less obvious, missed opportunities. We usually leave a book behind when we stay in a hotel. Sometimes we might give one to our waitress or we might have handed one to the gentleman we chatted with during a long parade. We never know how these materials could impact a person’s life, so we try to take every opportunity we have to leave something of Christ behind. This time we were woefully unprepared.

Did we have other options for sharing the good news? Yes, for sure. Giving a book is not the only way to share the gospel, by any means, but in each of our encounters, it seemed to us that having a book on hand would have made us more effective ambassadors. It would have been so simple and natural.

Because we never actually met our hostess (our stay was arranged through a friend), we didn’t ever get to speak to her face-to-face. We were unable to get her mailing address so we could send her materials.

With the couple we met numerous times, the conversation was quickly steered away from any mention of God. While they were friendly, they obviously didn’t wish to talk about such a personal topic with casual acquaintances. A book would have been much less confrontational, easier for them to accept and they would’ve been able to read and consider the material in the quiet of their own home.

We were able to talk some about what we do with GoodSeed with the family we met near the end of our stay, but on a busy beach, with seven children between us to keep track of, it would have been much more effective to simply hand them a book for them to look at when life was a little less hectic.

So, with these regrets lingering from our last trip, I can guarantee you our family plans to pack a little more carefully for our next vacation!

Are you prepared for the individuals the Lord might bring your way this summer? Sometimes, our days away on vacation give us unique opportunities to share the good news with others. We just have to make sure we’re ready.

So, here’s to a warm summer of good memories, and no regrets!

A school assignment turns into a time of rejoicing

Peter and Louise Johnson* have lived in the same neighbourhood for almost two decades. And right next door to them has always been the same older couple, Bill and Mary Robinson. Over the years, the neighbourly relationship between the two couples has developed into a deep friendship. In many ways, they consider each other just like family.

The Johnsons knew from early on that their friends were not believers. Over time, Bill and Mary revealed that while they had grown up in ultra-religious homes, at some point they’d left church life due to “the bitter taste that had been left in their mouths.” Though this experience was now part of their history, the Robinsons maintained the “good works for Heaven” mentality that they’d been steeped in. The Johnsons longed to see these dear ones come to know the Saviour.

When Mary had a heart attack years before, the Johnsons had taken the opportunity to share the gospel. However, they quickly realized that while a seed may have been planted, nothing had changed regarding the Robinson’s views on the Bible.

What was obvious to Peter and Louise, however, was that their friends were searching. Bill was a big reader and often his books were of a religious nature relating somehow to Jesus or the Bible. Usually they were books off the New York Times Best Sellers and not necessarily biblically sound, but he seemed to have maintained an interest in spiritual things, despite his aversion to church.

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Using the Worldview Survey, Part II: Discovering your friend’s worldview

In Using the Worldview Survey, Part I: Sharing the gospel when time is short, we shared how the Worldview Survey questions can be used as a springboard to sharing the gospel when you only have a short time with an individual (perhaps in a waiting room, interacting with a door-to-door salesman, or in a street evangelism context). In this second article, we share more specifically on how you can use the questions to discover the beliefs of the individual before moving on to share the gospel.

The conversation was going so smoothly. The young woman in front of me seemed to be eagerly digesting each point I made as I walked her through the gospel message. She was nodding her head, agreeing with me when I’d ask her questions and assuring me she understood. Great! Next up, the sinner’s prayer, right? We’d been conversing for some time when she finally began to open up more about her own worldview, extinguishing my optimism. Apparently she was exploring a pagan religion. She worshipped the earth. She wasn’t terribly bothered by her sin. Surely God could be expressed in many forms and there were many ways to seek him.

It was surprising to me that she could both agree with what I’d been saying, while at the same time hold to these very opposing viewpoints. She was, by definition, a post-modern thinker.

As she walked away from me a little later, I realized that I’d spent a long time sharing the gospel to a woman who did not have the foundations in place to understand it. While I knew God could still bless and use my feeble efforts, surely I could be more effective if I’d had an idea of the worldview of my listener before I dove into sharing the Bible’s message.

I realized I needed a method of quickly determining one’s worldview and finding a way to discern their true understanding of the Bible’s message, so that I could know how to proceed with the truths of the gospel

The Worldview Survey (originally published in the book And Beginning with Moses), a list of nine simple and objective questions, is designed to give a person a good idea of what their student believes. It’s a helpful tool for many situations, but especially handy if you’re not sure how to approach sharing the gospel with an individual or what tool would suit them best.

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Using the Worldview Survey, Part 1: Sharing the gospel when time is short

Five full days of street evangelism! Under normal circumstances, if someone had suggested this idea as a potential evangelistic pursuit, my response would have been, “No thanks! Not for me!” However, here I was in a large van heading to the big city. My husband, Troy, and I were the designated leaders, no less, for a dozen or so college-aged students. And we’d be standing on a street corner in no time at all, attempting to get into deep spiritual conversations with all kinds of scary strangers.

The first day went by much as I expected. Many were closed to hearing about the Lord, a few were willing to get into a discussion and most walked by completely indifferent. That week on bustling city streets was quite the adventure, arming us with stories and experiences that still effect our approach to sharing the gospel when time is short.

Even if you never participate in street evangelism, it’s good to be prepared for the moment when you have a quick opportunity to share the Bible’s message with a passing stranger. Your brief opportunity may come while sitting in front of your hairdresser, or with the salesperson at the door, or while you’re passing time in a waiting room. No matter the scenario, there are certain common obstacles that brief interactions present, as well as good ideas to navigate those obstacles.

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From a muddy pond to pure, life-giving water

Many, these days, seem to borrow religious ideas from a variety of sources. Claude* was one such individual.

In his mid-fifties, Claude was very religious. While he identified himself with a traditional church, he had gleaned so much of his thinking from other religions that his views were very muddled and hardly representative of his own church’s belief system.

He had become especially interested in the Eastern practices of yoga, chakra, astral voyage and so forth, as well as in the occult. His driving desire was to find that which was true. So his search continued.

A naturally curious individual, Claude was happy to learn more about religion when given the opportunity to study the Bible. He and Henri began their sessions, reading By This Name together and progressing through the Bible’s message in a way that was organized and clear.

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The gospel at your workplace: believe it, apply it, live it

electrician-1080554_1280What does it look like to be an ambassador for Christ? Does it mean speaking in front of thousands of people in a crowded auditorium? Or does it mean blazing a trail through a jungle to make contact with a primitive tribe? While both of those scenarios are definitely ways in which God uses his children to reach the world with his gospel, often our calling is much more ordinary. Often it is right in our daily workplaces that we have the greatest opportunity to share the life and truth of Jesus.

Take Jack*. You might think his job inconsequential—he worked in building maintenance at an independent living facility. But somehow Jack attracted the attention of his manager. He took note he was a Christian and appreciated his consistent testimony in the workplace. As a result, he asked Jack if he would offer a Bible study to the residents who may like to attend.

Jack was more than happy to do so and began offering studies. At first there were only a few attendees, but that changed after Jack invited a local pastor to start teaching a chronological Bible study based on The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. The room quickly filled up with attendees eager to learn the main theme of the Bible.

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Even children can do this

traveling-72151_1280We were blessed recently by the following testimony. Here are parents who have been successful in passing on to their children a passion for sharing the gospel.

The kids love trains. So we decided to take them on a train ride downtown. We encouraged seven-year-old Daniel* to take some GoodSeed books along to give to people on the train. One of the ladies he asked took the book but we could tell right away she was uncomfortable with it. It wasn’t long before she tossed the book a few seats down from her. We prayed together with the kids that someone would come take the book who needed it. A few stops later, another lady sat down, picked up the book and started intently reading it. She was about 10 pages into it before we got off at our next stop! Daniel is learning how easy it is to give the gospel to others.

A few weeks later, we took another train ride for Aaron’s birthday and took more books along to give away to people. Daniel said, “We need more books! Look at all these people that might not know Jesus!” Five-year-old Aaron even built up the courage to give a book to a young mother. We left a copy of The Story that Matters on a table in the public gardens and prayed someone would pick this book up. Sure enough, just 10 seconds later, we were blessed to see a man sit down at the table and begin reading it. We are praying that the recipients of these books would come to learn the Good News and place their trust in Jesus.

We are excited to see how God is using our children to reach others for Him, even at such a young age. Their love and concern for others that don’t know Jesus is so neat to see and a challenge to us as adults to not be afraid to give away the gospel.

Giving away a book is simple. So simple that even children can do it. Daniel and Aaron used The Story that Matters like a jumbo gospel tract. At 64 pages, it is succinct but with enough details to provide someone with a good explanation of the gospel message. And at $1 a copy when bought in bulk, the book is affordable to give away. Why not follow Daniel and Aaron’s example and prayerfully take some books with you next time you’re on the train or bus or in a public venue?

(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)

Can you tell me what the Old Testament is about?

medical-scan-equipment“Hey, I remember you!” Ginny* greeted the medical technician as she came into the room full of equipment.

“Oh yes, you were here a year ago, right?” Sonia replied. She had a distinct accent, which Ginny soon learned was due to her Eastern European heritage.

The two women chatted about the weather, where they each were from, and how they came to live in their small town. As Sonia arranged the scanning equipment, she asked Ginny, “So what do you do?”

Ginny has been a GoodSeed staff member for many years. Since she’s made it her habit to look for opportunities to reach out, she had a ready reply for Sonia: “I work with an organization called GoodSeed. We make books for people who maybe aren’t religious, but who are curious about the story of of the Bible–about the Old Testament and the New Testament–and about what it all means.”

“Oh!” Sonia exclaimed, with obvious interest. “I was born in Ukraine, but I’m actually Jewish, and I’ve been asking people, ‘Can you tell me what the Old Testament is all about?’ But no one has been able to answer me.”

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We rearranged our lives to make sharing the gospel possible

organizerGoodSeed staff Jeremy* hung up the phone and stared at the hastily scribbled notes in his small notebook. Joy gripped his heart as he considered all that the Lord had been doing through the faithful witness of one couple, Ron and Laura. Jeremy had conducted a training session some years ago that the two of them had attended. It had made such an impact that they went home and began rearranging their lives so they could be more active in sharing the gospel.

Laura had told Jeremy over the phone, “Ron used to work construction on job sites long distances from home, which made it difficult for him to be involved in these studies. But God has helped us rearrange our lives so that he now has a job only two minutes away.”

Was this drastic change worth it? Laura said, “This is the easiest thing we have done with our lives… but not the quickest.” Sharing a clear gospel with others takes time, but the results are worth it. Both Ron and Laura felt that the tools provided by GoodSeed gave their outreach a greater impact.

Laura said, “When you learn to share the gospel this way [with these tools] it simplifies your life… you know what to do!”

Jeremy marvelled at what the couple had done. He smiled as he reviewed the stories they had shared with him.

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Vacation time: See the world, share the gospel

Busselton JettyIt’s that time of the year again when people are planning for the mid-year holidays. You might already be making up your packing list: beachwear, swim gear, sun block and not forgetting, the camera.

As believers, there’s something else you should consider as part of your gear. How about taking along resources so you can share the gospel with the people you meet on vacation?

When you’re on holiday, you may have opportunities for extended conversations with others and even form friendships with them. When this happens, it becomes easier to share the good news.

Consider the people you might meet on vacation:

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