Many times, this question sends people running, cussing or both. Having been on both ends of that question myself, I can sympathize with both sides.
As part of her DTS, Hannah has spent the last week in street evangelism. She writes in her blog:
And today was outreach. We did street evangelism.I know for Hannah to approach a stranger and ask that question really took some courage and a big step out of her comfort zone, and i'm so proud of her for that. In all my 43 years as a baptized christian, I've never been able to do that.
Ummm, yeah, it was the first time I've ever just straight-up asked random strangers if they know Jesus.
First, I want to tell you guys that I am STILL SICK.
This morning, I felt like pooh. I wanted so badly to burn for the lost and get pumped to share His love with them. But I had trouble even functioning normally.
Our entire crew prayed over me and the yucky mucus left my nose immediately.
GUYS, DO YOU GET THAT??? GOD TOTALLY HEALED ME OF MY GROSSNESS SO I COULD SHARE HIS GOOD NEWS.
God is good. All the time.
So Elisa and I hit the streets. Man, I was that crazy Jesus freak asking people if they "knew Jesus." And let me tell you, it was the craziest experience of my life.
Note to all:
Elisa and I did not save one person.
We were flat-out rejected by every single person we spoke to. As soon as they heard the word "Jesus", people got so crazy offended and some would literally turn and run away. Some threw their hands in the air and said "I want nothing to do with this." Others broke my heart, saying "I'm not interested in Jesus" or "I don't need Jesus." I could just see Him crying saying "Take the AMAZING gift of life I have offered you! I layed down my VERY LIFE so you could live and experience my one true love!" And people rejected Him.
YOU DO NEED JESUS.
I'm gonna be bold right now, I haven't been bold enough on here because I've been afraid of hurting or offending people, but I want to tell you right now that you NEED Jesus. It's a fact - whether or not you choose to accept it is your choice, and He gave us that choice because of His INFINITE love for us, but one day, you Will stand before the King of Kings and you will tell Him the choice you made in this life, and I am sharing that with you now because I don't want to stand in front of Him, guilty of not giving you the news that He is the only Way, the Truth, and the Light.
Did you know I told one woman that I felt God wanted me to encourage told me that she was "Perfectly happy and didn't need encouragement" and stomped away angrily?
Sorry lady, you didn't seem too happy to me.
There was one Maori woman Elisa stopped on the sidewalk. She ask her if she knew Jesus. The woman hurridly replied "Yes" and so I asked her if she had a relationship with Christ - if she prayed with Him, read the Bible, was part of a Christian community, etc. She sighed and said "Yeah, i pray sometimes..." and I was all like "That's great! Can we encourage you today with some more prayer?" She quickly informed me that she needed to catch her bus, but after being rejected before, God gave me the determination not to let her get away. So I said "We can totally walk with you to your bus!" Say Elisa and I both began to pray for her as she walked to her bus.
Then she stopped walking.
And we finished praying.
And she looked at us.
And I knew God had done something.
I wish we hadn't let her go after we prayed for her.
But we'll continue to pray for her, along for the countless others who got away.
Having been on the back end of that question, I always remember that mixed feeling of conviction and defensive withdrawal. There was nothing in their spirit, nothing in their demeanor that took me beyond the wall I threw up. On very few occasions was I drawn enough to allow conviction to settle and take root. But it does only take one occasion to take root and begin to grow.
Several years later, I found myself on the front end of the question, but not in a street evangelism setting...but rather, in a booth of the restaurant where I worked, on a park bench while watching my babies play, walking around the fields while my kids tangled for the win, outside in the church parking lot sitting on a curb, and many other places i'm sure were as obscure and out of place as those with whom I was sharing my faith.
After I read Hannah's story and, I felt convicted to share some of the things I've learned along the way. The Maori woman needed what they gave to her that day...no doubt! But what is missing in the evangelism equation is what these people need most...a relationship.
The biggest lesson i've learned is that until someone trusts the person in front of them, that person is unbelievable--until that person feels some sort of bond of friendship and kindredship, they are not going to let their heart open up or become vulnerable to let anyone in. Usually that takes more than five minutes to accomplish, but a true soul passionately seeking to know people and share the joy they've found in Jesus can often share their faith without a defensive wall because of their humility in what they are doing.
Walking in humility and yet passionately is what I pictured my Hannah and Elisa doing as I read about the day's adventure...and I could see her asking the question; and in her excitement, I could imagine her not pausing to hear the answer before blurting out the joy she is living through her relationship with the One who has given her new life!
And that makes my heart leap and my cup overflow!