"I am not in control."
We want to share stories of how God is at work in our church family. We hope you feel encouraged as your read how God is working in and through our lives. If you'd like to share your story click the button below.
My name is Carly and I’m just going to share a little about my experiences with evangelism or sharing my faith. First off, I was on the receiving end of things. A girl named Rachel knocked on my dorm room door shortly after my parents left my first day of college. We quickly became friends. She had a car and I did not, so she would take me to Walmart whenever I needed something. We went on a lot of spontaneous adventures, usually to get ice cream! It was great, but basically from the beginning she was pushing me spiritually. My mindset at the time was, “I already told you that I’m a Christian, so why do we have to keep talking about this?” She could have just left it at that – as I expected her to, but instead she kept sharing with me in a loving way. I could tell that she really cared about me. She didn’t preach at me, but she really tried to understand what I was thinking. She asked a lot of hard questions. For example: “What does the gospel mean to you? Was there a time in your life when you made your faith your own or really asked Jesus to rule as Lord of your life? If you were to die today and stand before God, and He were to ask you why should I let you into my kingdom, what would you say?” God used these questions and Rachel’s friendship to help me re-evaluate my relationship with Jesus and really surrender my life to Him. That process was a great example to me of 1 Thessalonians 2:8, which says, “We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God’s Good News, but our own lives too.”
So that next semester, I signed up to go with Rachel and some other Campus Outreach students to Panama City Beach-the college spring break capital of the world. We were going to talk about Jesus with the college students partying there during spring break. I remember getting in the van to drive down there and the other students saying, “Let’s all try to memorize these verses to share with people down there.” And I was like, “Oh no, what did I get myself into? I’m so not ready for this!” I was so scared! It turned out that I was able to watch a lot of my peers share. They were just vulnerable as they told strangers about how Christ saved them and is redeeming them. I also got to jump in at times and share my own story. Of course, there were some people who walked away as soon as we brought up spiritual topics, but overall, I was amazed at people’s willingness to talk with us. I remember multiple people who told us about something really deep going on in their lives that they said they had not told anyone else before. Some even professed Jesus as their Lord and Savior right there in the midst of their spring break trip.
After I became a Christian my first semester of college, I naturally wanted my friends and family to know Christ fully, but I felt really inadequate to share with them. This trip helped me see that you don’t have to be a super-Christian to share your faith. As Pastor Bryan shared, the vulnerability and mess-ups often help others to see our sincerity. So I started to think intentionally for how I could share with my tennis teammates and dorm floor girls. At first, I just invited them to Christian events and hoped that they would just “catch-on” and “buy-in,” but soon I realized that that’s not how it worked with Rachel and I. I needed to be willing to have some uncomfortable conversations: ask questions, listen, and be willing to be vulnerable about my own life. As far as my teammates go: over the years, there was some significant interest and I was able to share a lot with several of them, but none of them have thus far accepted Christ. At one point, I really struggled with the concept of boldness. I wondered, “How bold am I supposed to be? Am I supposed to be so bold that my non-Christian friends will either become Christians or stop being my friend after a certain amount of time?” The conclusion that I eventually came to was that I have no control over their response to the gospel. I can verbally explain the message and how it has changed my life, live that out in front of them, and pray hard for their salvation, but I can’t save anyone. My job is to be consistent in these things and trust God for the rest.
Yes, there are times when people will get upset or be offended, but the gospel message is offensive. A main point is that you are a sinner and your best deeds are like filthy rags to God. But ultimately, it is worth it, because we aren’t just talking about life and death, this is eternity. It’s urgent and important! Acts 20:24 says, “But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus – the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God.”
Now that I’m not in the college Campus Outreach environment anymore, the process does look a little different. I don’t live in a dorm with 50 girls all in the same hallway. It’s been a slower process, but I am excited to keep going through the Journey Books (an evangelism tool) with a couple of my classmates from grad school, and hopefully transition that into studying a book of the Bible together. I’m also excited about getting to know more people from Thursday Night Volleyball at Grace. There have been a lot of new people coming who have not heard the gospel message at all. So that’s an awesome opportunity that God has given us.
Here’s another verse about the big picture: Habakkuk 2:14 says, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.” So, that’s the big picture and as our Young Adults Director Austin Branson would say, sharing your faith is really an invitation… to be with Jesus and to join Him on His mission. So don’t pass it up!
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