A Sign From God
Nov 15, 2020 | by Nancy Newbrough
What some people see as a problem, others see as an opportunity. And what an opportunity we have been given to step out in faith this year!
My wife and I have worked to reach unsaved students with the gospel on a major Texas college campus for 14 years through Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). We also help students who are already Christians grow spiritually and receive training in leadership roles.
Covid-19 has drastically changed the atmosphere of our campus. Previously, group activities have been the focus of much of our work. But now we are prayerfully asking God how to be effective in a pandemic where social distancing is the new normal.
When Jesus saw crowds, “he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.” Matthew 9:36.
Are our students harassed and helpless? Definitely
Do we have compassion on them? Most Definitely
But crowds? Definitely Not Because of Covid Restrictions
Yet, bigger is not always better ... and sometimes less is more! So a new approach, after much prayer, has been taken – going out to encounter students, mostly one-on-one, wherever they are. It feels awkward walking up to a complete stranger while wearing a mask and asking if you can ask them a few questions. To add to the awkwardness, they are also masked and have their headphones in. Everything about their appearance is screaming, “Leave me alone!”
But I am utterly amazed at the responses. They take their headphones out and say, “Sure, I can talk.” And by the end of the conversation, they are giving me their phone number and we set up a time to meet again for further discussion.
Let me tell you about one encounter. Chris was sitting by himself outside, drinking a milkshake. He was open and available to talk. So I asked him, “If you could ask God three questions, what would they be?”
Without hesitation, he answered: “What is my purpose? Will God forgive my mistakes? Am I going to heaven?” I listened as he shared his story and learned much about him and where he was spiritually. I then asked him one more question: “If you could know 100% that you would spend eternity with God, would you want to know?” He was very interested and seemed in no hurry to leave, so I walked him through a four-point outline of the Gospel. He was very engaged the whole time and said he felt like God was trying to get his attention. Interestingly, he showed me on his phone where he had written a note-to-self three weeks earlier: “Start pursuing God and forget the past.”
Chris had some spiritual background as a child, but since arriving at college, he had put God on the back burner. He thought our encounter was a sign from God! How I look forward to more conversations with Chris!
Our Lord has awakened me to the realization that effective evangelization begins with listening ... instead of speaking. The Barma Group (a market research firm studying religious beliefs and behavior of Americans) has discovered that listening without judgment is the number one thing not-yet Christians want, but very rarely experience when talking to Christians. In James 1:19 we are told: “My dear brothers, take note of this: ‘Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak…’”
As we pray for God to show the way, we are excited at what He is revealing. Since some of our tried and true ways are not an option at present, or simply not working because of the pandemic, we are learning to cast our nets, so-to-speak, on the other side of the boat.
I have become all things to all men so that by all
possible means I might save some.
I do all this for the sake of the gospel …
1 Corinthians 9:22-23