Fear and evangelism: can I witness when I’m afraid?

Emma Nielsen July 20, 2017


Too scared to share the gospel? You’re not the only one. Maybe you’ve been told that if you love your friends you should share the gospel with them (true) and God commands us to (also true), but that doesn’t always make it easier!

A lot of the time, encouragements like these don’t deal with the core of the problem. Talking about religion in New Zealand can be…awkward. We’re a secular culture, and faith is something we’re implicitly taught to keep quiet about. Sharing can strain or damage our relationships – and it’s all too easy to let this fear stop us from trying.

Reassuringly, many biblical heroes of the faith weren’t always raring to go sharing either. Paul was pretty straight up about his nerves in his letter to the Corinthian Church: “I did not come with eloquence or superior wisdom [to share the gospel]…I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling”(1 Cor. 2:1,3). Even in the Old Testament, the Bible is filled with people afraid to speak as God commands them (check out the burning bush episode in Exodus for a refresher).

Our fear and weakness thankfully aren’t a problem in the hands of God though! God used Moses and Paul mightily despite their stress. In fact, the Bible shows that God deliberately chooses ‘the weak things of the world to shame the strong’ (1 Corinthians 1:27b) If you find evangelism hard, don’t worry! Fear is a good part of His plan.

Does this mean we’re doomed to be completely terrified forever? Thankfully not! When Student Life member Joshua met Jian Wei in the beginning of 2015, Jian Wei told him he believed in Jesus. There was no way he’d dare to share the faith though, Jian Wei said. He was so scared of evangelism in fact that when Joshua invited him to go sharing, Jian Wei actually found himself struggling to breathe from the terror!

After lots of encouragement and practice with Student Life, Jian Wei eventually found himself running towards gospel conversations, not away from them. For someone who had no idea what to say, tools like the Perspectives app really helped provide conversation starters. Eventually, Jian Wei’s courage had grown enough to make him fly halfway round the world on a missions trip to Asia! Here’s one of his encounters:

    "For the first couple of weeks of my ministry, I struggled to make friends who were open to hear the gospel.     One day, as I was walking around campus, I kept praying that God would give me someone who I could     share with. Later that day I met a guy called Alfred, and soon realized we had a lot in common (hobbies,     music etc.). I wanted to share the gospel with him, but out of fear I struggled to bring up spiritual things     whenever we met up.

    After a lot of reflection and discussion with my fellow teammates, I realized that I was struggling because I     wasn’t trusting in God. I met up with him a few days later, with the intention of sharing with him. I was     constantly praying before and during our meeting that God would give me the words to say. I started to     discuss spiritual things with him, but he gave very short answers, and the conversation was awkward for     about 20 minutes. I kept praying, but nothing in the conversation was changing. I went out to the bathroom     to pray more, and when I got back, the first thing he said was “So tell me more about Jesus!”. It was     awesome to see the power of prayer first-hand, and to have the privilege of sharing the gospel that day!”

So what changed? It looks like two things really helped:

  1. Seek God’s help. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:14). Going out to make disciples is definitely on God’s priority list, so pray that He would use you for His glory, no matter how you feel about it!
  2. Pray. The evangelism tool or strategy you use could be the best in the world; but if God doesn’t build the house, the labourers build in vain.
  3. Challenge yourself. If we wait until we feel comfortable, we might never start. Sharing is much easier with a friend (you know the old saying about strength in numbers…) Why not see if your Church friends are keen to go sharing next Sunday?

If you’re still feeling like Jian Wei and have no idea what to say, check out the free Perspectives app Jian Wei used on our website. Perspectives is a low-key way to find out what your friends think about the meaning of life (and with easy online training, a good way to help you feel confident talking with them too!) Let your friends take a fun quiz on your phone about a variety of topics, and chat about their answers afterwards with the follow up questions provided. Available as a free mobile app or a physical deck of cards now.

Leave a comment below or email us at stories@tandem.org.nz to let us know how you go!

Related Topics:
Evangelism Tools

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