“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Pet 3:15
 My first big missionary trip was a completely unexpected opportunity to go to Russia with my church. It was unexpected because although I had heard the announcements, and my heart wanted to go, I knew that I didn’t have the money to do it. But God had amazing plans, and at the last minute, I was able to get on the team.
My church had paid for a small media campaign on some billboards and on posters all over the metro in Moscow, and they had printed tracts and free concert invitations also in Russian, and so during the day, we would go out in teams with young Christian translators, and do outreach. We soon got accustomed to different ways we could connect with the Russian people—one way was through candy. The stern post-communism faces riding silently on the metro warned “leave me alone” in any language. However, if we smiled brightly and offered a piece of American candy, the most hardened character dissolved into a hopeful grin, and nod of acceptance. This gave us permission to talk with them.
The Russian trip was my first excursion into street-witnessing, and I soon got addicted to the excitement and joy that comes with “winging it” through the Holy Spirit. I was never quite sure what that person would need, or even necessarily what would come out of my mouth, but God did. It was a thrilling opportunity to engage with someone about the most important thing in the world, and to rely completely on the Lord to fill my mouth with love and wisdom for that particular person and moment. This experience confirmed that God’s Spiritual Gift and calling for me was evangelism.
When we returned from Russia, several of us started a street-witnessing team, and we would prayerfully go out to a particular neighborhood one night a week. We brought Gospel tracts to hand out and sometimes food for the homeless we would encounter. Some people would be willing to talk, and other people were only willing to take a gospel tract. Some didn’t want to be bothered at all, but either way, we would smile and bless them. Street-witnessing is an amazing and exhilarating spiritual assignment, and over the years, I’ve seen lives and hearts changed, and people lifted and given hope. God has taught me so much about how to share His love, patiently, joyfully, and to let myself be led by His Spirit.
But street-witnessing was only one night a week. I started realizing that I would run into people throughout my day, and God sometimes would open an opportunity to talk to them, and encourage them. At those times, I wasn’t officially street-witnessing, or even acting as an evangelist. I would just be in line at the grocery store, or see someone at the bus stop who seemed discouraged, or someone who needed money, and God would prompt me to talk with them. Sometimes I would get into a deeper conversation with my waitress or waiter, or someone taking my order at Starbucks. I was really just minding my business, and generally I had other things I was trying to accomplish, and yet, here was this person that God clearly put in my path who needed to know about His love.
That’s when I realized how little it took to be a blessing when these opportunities arise. God seems to use just a few words and a short conversation in the middle of an ordinary day to tell someone, who is ready to hear, that He loves them, and that they can have hope in Jesus. The most surprising impact on a person seems to come from a smiling stranger who tells them how much they matter to God, how dear they are to Him, and how He has made a way for them. They believe these words because the stranger has no investment in them, shouldn’t really care about them, and essentially has nothing to gain—but most of all, they believe it because God’s Spirit confirms the message in their hearts.
But not every conversation leads to the sinner’s prayer. Most don’t even come close. Each encounter is unique, and has a precise plan and goal that only the Holy Spirit knows. Sometimes all you get to say is “Well, God bless you. You have been such a help to me today,” and yet you can tell that God is creating a spiritual connection. I began to realize that just like when I would go street-witnessing, I would need to go out into my everyday life prepared with some things I could give to the person before we part forever. I sensed that God was preparing these people to hear His voice, and that whatever little extra I could do to share His message would help.
I started carrying a few Gospel tracts that I knew would give God something to work with after the encounter ended. Over time, I narrowed them down to specific tracts that I relied on the most, and I always keep a few of each in a special pocket of my purse (here’s a tip: keep them in the original plastic wrap of one of the tract packages so they don’t get roughed up). Now, I am ready for those God-created moments, and I can hand someone a tract as I leave, or put it in the tip jar, and I always leave one with my tip whenever I eat at a restaurant.
Now I don’t give tracts at every interaction with another human—we don’t need to feel that kind of pressure. Sometimes the seed is simple kindness, and “God bless you,” and other times it is encouragement, like “Well, I’ll pray God helps you with your semester.” We all have these unique personalities, and God draws some people uniquely to us. The point is, if our heart is willing, we will find God creating these “random” neat moments with people, evangelist or not. When that happens, you don’t have to be a particularly bold or eloquent speaker—you can simply give them the Gospel in a tract, and they can read it in private, where God does His best work.
Just remember to leave a really good tip
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matt 5:16