ANN SAT DOWN ON THE BUS BESIDE a young woman dressed in black, all tatted up, with a pentagram necklace on a choker chain. Since Ann is one of those people others find easy to talk with, it wasn’t long before she learned her new friend was a lesbian, gothic, witch. Sidestepping the lesbian and gothic issues, Ann asked her to describe what it meant to be a witch. After hearing her explanation of Wiccan religion, Ann responded by telling her story of following Jesus. How did she know what to say? There aren’t any specialized seminars on sharing the gospel with lesbian, gothic, witches. Ann engaged her seatmate in a conversation, tailoring the gospel to meet the needs of someone obviously searching for personal identity and meaning in life. She talked about Jesus with a lesbian, gothic, witch.
There’s no script for conversations like that.
Janet had an acquaintance, Cheryl, who lived across the street. Like many neighbors today, they waved from their cars as they drove away or spoke briefly if they were both working in their yards on the same day. Cheryl gave birth to twins, so Janet took her a small gift and wished her well. Their relationship developed a little more through that act of kindness, but not that much, since the twins kept Cheryl busy. These two younger moms didn’t spend much time together for several months. Then, tragically, Cheryl’s husband was killed in a work-related accident. She was left a 20-something widow with twin toddlers. Janet later told me, “I didn’t know what to say or do. But I knew I had to do something. So, I baked a casserole and took it over. When Cheryl answered the door, I said, ‘I am so sorry for what’s happened. I don’t know what to say. But I care about you and I’ll do anything I can to help you.’”
Even though she didn’t know what to say—who would?—she risked speaking up, saying something, initiating a conversation to communicate compassion. A casserole started a conversation which led to talking about Jesus.
Unscripted, yet so simple.
And ultimately effective, as the conversation continued over the next six months culminating in Cheryl’s confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior—followed by her baptism at our church.
Larry had read more than 200 books on New Age religion. His company had a corporate chaplain, but Larry usually ignored him since his beliefs were askance from the chaplain’s orthodox Christianity. Then Larry starting reading the Bible. After a few months, he asked the chaplain if they could get together—in Larry’s words—“so I can ask some questions about religion.” The chaplain expected some esoteric questions based on the voluminous religious reading he knew Larry had done. When they met, Larry’s first question was, “What does it mean to be born again and is that anything like having your sins forgiven?” Hello! That wasn’t what he expected to hear. Forty minutes later, after the chaplain answered a string of insightful questions about the gospel, Larry committed himself to Jesus.
Unscripted, answering unexpected questions about Jesus.
Todd was sitting in his cubicle reading an obscure book about metaphysics and religious faith. When asked by a friend why he was reading that particular book, he replied, “I’m looking for truth. Truth, man, that’s all I want to find.” His friend told him about another book that was about truth, and asked if he would read it if he gave it to him as a gift. When Todd agreed he would, the friend gave him a popular book on why it’s reasonable to believe in God. That conversation is ongoing.
Definitely, unscripted. But, hopefully soon, they will be talking about Jesus.
Jeff Iorg, Unscripted: Sharing the Gospel as Life Happens (Ashland, OH: New Hope Publishers, 2014).