As you might imagine, it’s always easier to share your success stories with others than it is to share your failures. Well, today I come to you with a failure.
Over the past few years I’ve come to see the healing power of Jesus on people with physical problems and I’ve written about many of the miracles here on this blog. Even more often, however, I’ve seen the power of prayer at work upon the emotional needs of individuals. And I’m always happy to pray for people, especially when they come to me!
But going to them… that’s a bit of a different story.
I’ve seen “taking it to the streets” screwed up far too many times. I’ve heard some Christians share stories of their own street evangelism and I was either appalled or offended by how they went about it. Your message should always be preached out of love and not use cheap skate moves to scare someone into a conversion (if that is even a legitimate conversion). And it’s not that hell should be tiptoed around or not addressed or anything like that, but again, your message needs to come out of love.
But the story that always comes to my mind when I think of street evangelism dates back to a certain conference I was at. The place was packed out with hundreds of teenagers and one day we were informed that we were going to go take the world with the message of Jesus! Some were pumped and others (moi) were scared out of their mind! But they loaded us up with pamphlets and chucked us out of the building with no strategy—just a goal.
I remember being too afraid to go up to anyone and so I just put a pamphlet on someone’s pick-up truck. That person then walked outside and took up a tone with me.
“What’d you put right there?”
“Uh… just a book.”
“Nope, I don’t want it. Just keep it.”
“Kay. Thanks. Sorry. Bye.”
Now I was just out in West Virginia for the past four days and I found out we were going to a mall to evangelize with more of a charismatic strategy—a strategy which I approve of and am quite fond of, even though I hardly have enough courage to follow through. Basically, your group prays for God to give them a sign or feature of the person they should pray for and then you go look for them.
Our group ended up praying for a pregnant girl. It was awesome to love on her, but the moment was full of awkwardness too. I found it easy to pray for people once someone had tracked them down and asked if they minded, but I didn’t want to do any of the initiating. I prayed for courage but hardly found any and felt more than a little overwhelmed. But I knew it was the right thing to do with your strategy is from God and your with people who know how to go about ministry correctly. We weren’t even trying to convert anyone really. We just wanted to pray for their well-being. And should they not want prayer (whether they refused politely, rudely, or aggressively) we wouldn’t push them to take it.
Even though I more or less fell flat on my face, I at least felt a little bit of an accomplishment for not saying that I had to go to the bathroom and then hid under the sink for the next two hours.
But then I felt like a bit of a failure yesterday. I was walking around the mall in Jackson when I caught a man with cane out of my peripherals. I seriously didn’t give it a second thought, but as I walked by him my legs began to tingle in a way that I can’t really explain… Almost like there were tiny drops of sweat appearing all over them in all different kinds of areas. It caught me off guard and then I found myself thinking, “Wait, did I just walk by a dude with a cane?”
House? Anybody? Bueller?
I couldn’t help but feel it was a sign, but I was still nervous. I thought to myself, “I’ll try to walk back by him when I leave and see if it happens again.” And I feel that it did. There was a very brief sensation in my left knee when I passed by him.
But I left.
And I do regret it.
So I share my epic fail story with you more as encouragement than anything. I actually almost felt a little more comfortable at the thought of praying for the guy alone rather than with a group, but as you can see, I still didn’t go through.
The truth is, it probably never will feel comfortable. But when God is calling us to pray for someone, we can at least take joy in the security He has given us. And if we can be faithful in the little things, He will know that we can be faithful with much.
And now I’m running behind on a lot of stuff, so I must run without proofreading. I apologize for any typos :)