Who are the evangelists?
Sometimes we get the impression that evangelism is only for the really special or gifted people. Given the fact that most blogs with tips and training about evangelism come from those in full-time vocational ministry, it’s easy to think that evangelism is really not for the “ordinary” Christian (whatever that means).
In this post we want to highlight an ordinary evangelist. Ben isn’t in full-time Christian ministry. He hasn’t received any formal theological training. He’s not even in any official positions of leadership at his church. He’s a husband, a dad, a worker, a friend … he’s an ordinary person.
Let’s meet Ben and see what being faithful witnesses for Jesus can look like for the rest of us.
TGCA: Hi Ben, tell us a bit about yourself: family, work, where you live and church.
I’m married to Jane. We’ve got two girls under four, and a newborn baby boy. I’m a lawyer and have been in the workforce for about 11 years now – working in private practice for 6 years, and in-house for the other 5. I live in Sydney, and attend ACTS 11 at Kingsgrove.
TGCA: How did you become a Christian?
I always had a concept of God in my life because my Mum was a Christian. But Dad was a Buddhist, so I didn’t go to church. During my time at Uni, I made some good friends who dragged me along to Christian talks and Bible studies. It was through those that I started learning what the gospel was about. There wasn’t one moment when I decided to become a Christian, but there were significant moments when I realised that God’s Word was on the money, and that I was a sinner who needed Christ.
TGCA: You’ve had some pretty “ordinary” and yet extraordinary experiences to share the gospel through your work. Can you highlight a couple of examples?
Recently, one of our colleagues, Sarah*, who was a Christian, died unexpectedly. It turned out that she had a form of cancer that she had kept secret from others. She collapsed in her home alone and was discovered by police who broke in after friends alerted them. She was in her mid-50s when she died; had never married and did not have any children.
Sarah’s death was a big shock to all of us and impacted us greatly. I got the sense that, in addition to our grief, some of my colleagues felt a sense of pity and injustice that this beautiful person had lived her life alone and died alone. However, I had the opportunity to share with some of my colleagues the Christian perspective on her life. I was able to talk about how, as a Christian, Sarah was in fact never alone, but that God’s Spirit had been living in her. And on the day of her death, I could imagine Jesus telling her “Sarah, my good and faithful servant, you’ve run your race well; now it’s time for us to go home,” upon which he leads Sarah with him to enjoy paradise with him.
I explained that the Christian viewpoint says it doesn’t matter what you achieved or didn’t achieve during your life, it doesn’t matter how you died. It was great to be able to share this with my colleagues, and to be able to ask them: “Wouldn’t it be great if this was true? Wouldn’t it be worth investigating for yourself whether it’s true?”
Another recent opportunity I had to share the gospel came about during one of my regular whinges to a colleague about the cost of living these days. The topic of our conversation then got onto the bonuses that we get each year, and how we spent them. I got to share how Jane and I liked to exercise generosity with a large part of our bonuses, and how it was great that we could now start getting our kids involved in deciding where the money should be directed. My colleague was really intrigued by the way we spent our money, and it was great to be able to share that we could do this because we trusted that God (not our money, or abilities, or jobs) would provide for us; that because he had given up his own Son for us we knew that we could trust in him both now and in the future.
The thing that I was really thankful for about this conversation was that it was actually the first time in my 5 years working for our organisation that we’d had a gospel conversation. It made me realise that God may not give you the opportunity to share “2 Ways To Live” with every colleague you come across. He may instead want you to build up strong relationships over a period of years and then give you an opportunity to share the good news in a way that is practical and meaningful to the other person.
TGCA: What is your attitude to work and work relationships with non-Christians, and what role does it play in the opportunities that arise?
I go to work each day with the simple understanding that one day I’m gonna die, and I’m not going be able to take with me anything that I’ve built up in terms of my career and material wealth.
On the flipside, it’s incredible to know that whenever I walk into a room at work (whether it’s a meeting with colleagues, or a meeting of the Board), I’m actually the most powerful person in that room, as I have a direct relationship with the Sovereign of the universe. I’m the wealthiest person in that room, as I have an inheritance kept for me that can never perish, spoil or fade. And I have the most security in that room, because God sent his Son as the ultimate reassurance that my future is secure. I already have everything that I could possibly ever desire (actually much more!), given freely by God in Christ.
Knowing these things has been totally transformative for me. It means I don’t need to act in self-interest but am freed up to develop genuine relationships and truly care for the people around me. I can stay back to help a colleague even though I won’t get any credit for it. I can go in to bat for someone who is encountering a difficult colleague. And I find that gospel discussions arise naturally – because people know when you’re genuine and they are intrigued by the difference.
TGCA: This interview is about being an ‘everyday evangelist’. Why do you believe that what you’re doing is something that every Christian worker can put into practice?
I think that my life is pretty simple in that the most important thing I can do (whether as a husband, father or worker) is spend quiet time before God each day. I’ve found that, as I’ve read his Word and spent time in prayer, God has been really growing me in my excitement about who He is and the power of the gospel. This makes me want to share the gospel with others (including my work mates). I want to say, “hey, this is incredible stuff, you have to know about this!” I’d really recommend quiet times to all of us who are Christians.
For us Christians in the workforce, I think we’re in a special position amongst our colleagues. We may be the only Christians they have a relationship with; the only ones who pray for them. Praying for our colleagues (something I need to do much more of) is actually the easiest but most important thing that we can do – because only God can people to life in Christ.
Given that we have everything that we could ever want in Christ, we’re freed to work for our employer and with our colleagues in a way that is without self-interest and that’s truly caring. In my experience, people notice this because it’s so distinctive. You might find that too. It might cause your colleagues to ask questions that lead to the gospel.
*Not her real name.
Photo: Eric Bailey, Pexels.com