Many different ideas come to people’s minds when they think of or hear the word “evangelism.” For some the image of television preachers comes to mind; for others it might be an image of the Women of Faith speakers, and yet another may picture a missionary in a foreign land. In any of these circumstances, there seems to be one recurring theme: All these people are theologically educated and seem to be a step above a lay person like myself. Sure, I can work in a children’s division or be a greeter at church, but really, I don’t meet the criteria of an evangelist. I’m just me. It seems as if that should be a job for someone else. The truth is, evangelism can be done by anyone, anywhere!
According to the trusty Webster’s Dictionary, there are two definitions of evangelism: (1) the winning or revival of personal commitments to Christ, and (2) militant or crusading zeal. If you think back to the time when you initially accepted Christ as your Savior or when His breath of life came into your soul, you will probably recall a revival of your personal commitment to Christ, along with a crusading zeal that probably annoyed some of the non-believers (and maybe a few believers). Some of those people were probably intrigued by what had you so fired up, but beyond that abundant zeal, what did you have to offer?
What do you do when the excitement wanes? Do you leave it up to the televangelists, the missionaries in Zimbabwe, or the ladies who travel the Women of Faith circuit? Does your responsibility end with responsibilities at church once every quarter? If you don’t know what the next step should be, maybe you need to think outside the box in which you have put God and your ideas of how He can use you. That is exactly what I had to do!
I have a huge heart for hurting women. I want to love them and show them God’s love. I am a stay-at-home mom of two daughters who are four and six. They occupy most of my time. My husband of nine years works a lot, but when he isn’t working, he manages to occupy the rest of it. I am 35 years old and still trying to figure out “what I want to be when I grow up.” To be honest, that was a terrifying thought when I was 18, and today it really doesn’t seem any less threatening!
Being a stay-at-home mom whose time is very limited, my world has also been very narrow. The women I’m in contact with on a regular basis are already believers who strive to follow Christ in their daily lives. This provides a wonderful group for personal support and accountability, but how does that help me love the hurting women who don’t know God? What was I supposed to do? How would I find women for my heart to love? And what made me qualified to influence someone else’s life and draw them to a personal commitment to Christ?
Carrying a heavy burden for women and knowing I had no theological education, I went to a “Learn Your Evangelism Style” conference in Houston. They used the workbook Becoming a Contagious Christian by Bill Hybels, which specified that God wired you the way you are for a particular reason. He wants to use you just as He made you. This was absolute life for me! I have always looked at soft-spoken, meek women and thought that was how I needed to be if I was going to love on women’s hearts for God. Needless to say, I am not soft-spoken and meek. I am pretty much a loud, direct, Dr. Phil-type personality. It definitely isn’t beyond me to look at someone and say, “Just what were you thinkin’?” From that day of training I realized that God wired me this way for His purpose. I don’t have to rewire the way I relate with people before He can use me. I can be me and love women even with my Dr.Phil-style because God has wired some women to respond to that kind of love. What freedom!
Now that I had that freedom, what was I going to do with it? Love hurting women! I started being intentional. I had to broaden my narrow world, but God, how do I do that? I began with the ladies at the bus stop. Although I see them twice a day, five days a week, I barely say hello. One morning I showed up at the bus stop with donuts—now that is a conversation starter! I truly tried to invest in my relationships with these ladies, but I wanted more time than the few minutes at the bus stop. School was coming to an end, so I decided to open my home for a weekly Bible study. What Bible study would I lead? I hadn’t been trained; I wasn’t qualified or educated. But I was called, and I had the desire and the heart. The study had to be about healing broken hearts. I remembered a study that I had participated in years ago that changed my life, Restore My Heart by Dennise Glenn. I made up fliers and showed up with them instead of donuts. These precious ladies were invited to fellowship with other women while learning about God’s great love for us childcare provided! (I am sure this was a selling point!)
It’s been six weeks since our study started. There have been seven ladies in my home sharing hearts and lives together. God has given me the opportunity to pour love on hurting women. I have seen ladies turn to Christ with a zeal ignited in their spirits as well as healing for their hearts, and to my great surprise, mine too! I love these women, but more importantly, God loves them. If I hadn’t accepted that God wired me like I am for a reason, I would still be trying to be meek and soft-spoken. That’s not who God created me to be. He wired me this way for a purpose. My heart tells me that purpose is to love hurting women. I realize I can do it anywhere. At the bus stop with donuts, in my home during a study, or anywhere I find myself at the time.
I encourage you to take a look at how God has wired you. He made you for a purpose—His purpose. I challenge you to take Him out of the box and allow Him to lead you where He wants you. If you accept this challenge, I promise it will change your life, and many others in the process.