One of the things that I liked the most about being in the Police was when we went to execute a search warrant on a known criminals house and inevitably had to force an entry.
Those days are long gone.
Unfortunately many Christians think that evangelism is just like that. Forcing our way into conversations to make people listen about Jesus. Many of the "Evangelism" courses I have seen and tried over the years seem to have this as their premise. Do it this way, say it like this and your friend will fall on their knees in repentance. Many have tried these techniques and realised they just don't work so have simply stopped trying. When opportunities do come along to share faith we simply don't know what to do and those opportunities are lost.
This year we have been considering two main thoughts. The first has been "It just so happened" . Many of us are in need of a miracle either for ourselves or a family member, as we wait, pray and strive for these precious times we can loose sight of the fact that God is still at work in our lives. The Bible is full of these "it just so happened" moments and we need to lift our eyes off our needs and see that God is already at work. When we recognise these "It just so happened" moments and thank God them then our faith grows. What do I mean? For each of us these moments are unique to us: we need a doctors appointment and when we ring it just so happens there is vacancy in the next half our, we feel down and would love to talk to someone and it just so happens that a friend rings minutes later for a chat. When we know to look for them we will see them at every turn in our lives. God's hand of blessing rests on us so give Him thanks.
The second thing we have begun talking about as a church is to identify our story of Faith and to find ways to practice it so it becomes so engrained that when opportunities arise we are ready and able to share them.
Some of you know I have been unwell, so here is my recent story that illustrates both these key lessons. I hope you are encouraged.
A few years ago I visited the doctor to be told I had an enlarged prostate ( it's a man thing) . Over the years I have lived with it but was aware that it was gradually getting worse, the need to go to the toilet in the night gradually getting worse. No big deal it's what I expected, so get on with it. Ten weeks ago we returned from holiday in Driffield, I had not been feeling too well and put it down to exhaustion due to a few difficult months. So on return home thought I would see a doctor I rang the surgery and it just so happened the nurse could see me that morning. I thought I was starting with diabetes and she sort of agreed and sent me for a blood test which I had two days later, The next day at 9 am my doctor rang and said he had made me an urgent appointment in half an hour and told me when I saw him that there was a problem with my blood test and I needed to go straight to the hospital for another blood test which I did. The consultant said I had kidney failure and was admitted straight away. It transpired that my enlarged prostate meant I was retaining urine and this was damaging my kidneys. If I hadn't gone to the doctors when I did I might have died. I spent a week in hospital and was sent home waiting for an operation.
I had the operation and it seemed to go well so afterwards I was taken to the surgical recovery suite before going onto a ward. Normally you are there for about an hour then off to the ward you go, but it appears that God had other ideas. I had a slight temperature and my heart rate was elevated. The consultant told the staff that it was Ok to send me to the ward, but the nurse in charge decided she wanted to over rule him and keep me there against hospital policy. Slowly the other patients came and went till I was the only one with at times 4 members of staff looking after me. It was bizarre as the staff had to keep writing up why they wanted me to stay, my heart rate and temperature started to normalize but still they kept me, in fact I stayed there all night being looked after like a Prince with all this staff looking after me. They let Ann come and visit me, sent out to the ward to get my phone then my glasses and brought me in food and drink.
When my folks go to hospital I pray that they are treated as Royalty (Princes of the Kingdom) and that was what it felt like.
But it got more God inspired.
Just after midnight the anaesthetist was updating the computer when she exclaimed "You are a minister", I explained that Ann and I were both ministers. She asked if we took it in turns preaching and I said yes. She then asked me what I preached on last.
This was getting a bit weird! So I told her I had shown a video clip of a footballer who had been a druggie and had come to faith and that I then encouraged the congregation to think about their own stories and to write it down and that I then got some to share those stories. Her answer was would it be inappropriate for me to share some of those stories. By now all the staff had pulled up chairs and stopped everything they had been doing so I told my story about being in the Police, the harrowing work I had done in detail and how I had had a breakdown with PTSD and finally about how I had been healed.
She then asked if I had always been a Christian and if my parents had been too so I then told the story of how I had come to faith "That following Jesus changes people's lives" I must have talked for almost an hour .
If the reason for my need for an operation was so that these three staff could hear about Jesus well ....all I can say is "Wow!"
I have no idea where this will lead, one of the nurses is about to have a baby and was asking about our toddler group. I keep praying that they will have more divine encounters.
I didn't have to kick these doors open, I just had to be ready when they did open to chat my story. I have told these stories so many times and by doing so have learnt the best way to present my friend Jesus.
You have a story, tell it to yourself over and over again until it is second nature and maybe you too will have an opportunity to share your faith. No need to kick any doors open.