Jumbled up Thoughts

The Art of Ministry: Listening, Learning, and Sharing

Ministry isn’t just us going and trying to force Jesus down people’s throats. If this is the perception that you have, I want to let you know it’s incorrect. Sometimes as missionaries we have to “shake the dust off our feet.” This sounds super rough and hard to understand. But Yes we also have to tell people, everyone in fact, but it takes a certain tact as well. If you truly want to bring someone to The Lord then you should learn something about them. I have a couple points to give you to help on this journey that sometimes seems extremely scary, and hard.

First, something I learned from a missionary in Romania named Raul. He said something along the lines (while evangelizing to people) if they say “yes let’s talk” then sit and talk with them, but if they say no to talking or try to just argue (without genuinely listening) then go to the next person. At first, this sounded weird to me because I felt like why can’t we argue our faith. Why can’t we fight for this person? But as I have done this more and The Lord continues to teach me more I look at Matthew 10 when Jesus sent out the disciples, and more specifically verse 14. Verse 14 says, “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Jesus said this because there will be people who will accept and people who won’t. We have to understand it is The Lord that these people are rejecting and not us. So, when people say no I don’t want to talk about God or religion. We can say, “Can I pray for you?” If they say no to that then as we walk away we pray for them and seek the next person The Lord sets before us. This has helped me greatly to remember it’s not me being rejected in not being as afraid to tell people about Jesus.

Next thing that I think is super effective in sharing with someone is to sit with them and learn about them. Another thing we should do as Christians sharing our faith surprisingly enough is sitting and listening. Something this world does drastically different than we should be doing is they want to be the center of their world. One thing Jesus did was make people the center of His World. This was evident in Him healing the lame, blind, and sick. In Him seeking the sick and not the overly pompous Pharisees, who thought they knew it all. Another example, that I was reading today, of listening to people and knowing about their beliefs is when Paul went to the Greeks in Areopagus in Acts 17:22-34.

Acts 17:22-34 22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you. 24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’[a] As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’[b] 29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.” 32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.”

Something so beautiful about this is Paul didn’t just go and tell them about what he believed before trying to understand them. He saw their statue and said this statue you have to “The Unknown God” is real God who created everything, Who doesn’t dwell in temples made with hands. Nor is He worshiped with men’s hands. He also quoted some of Greece’s own poets who said, “For we are also His offspring.” He came into their city and said, “I perceive that in all things you are very religious.” He then told them about their statue and to Whom it was really for. And lastly he quoted their own poets about who God is. He knew them. He didn’t get to that point by pushing his own thoughts down their throats. He got there by going to them saying I see you. I see what you believe and I want to show you the actual Truth. You’re so close, but missed the mark a bit. It’s quite funny actually because we have all been at this point at some point in our lives. We have been off by about The Truth by a bit ranging from a little to a lot, but we all have a bit of truth in our beliefs no matter what it may be.

A few examples of this are in how many religions talk about Jesus. Islam believes He was a prophet, and that He did many of these miracles, but they don’t believe He is God. Hindus believe Jesus is an Acharya (A spiritual teacher), but not that He is King above all kings. Buddhists believe He was a Bodhisattva, or an enlightened teacher. The thing is Jesus is The Enlightened Teacher. He is THE God of the Universe. Judaism is largely obvious where it strays from the Truth. They followed God for many many years and then never believed that Jesus was the Messiah that they had heard prophecies about.

In all these there are pieces of the Truth of God, but none of them are The Whole Truth. This is why it is so much better to go to someone, listen to their beliefs, and then say how their beliefs stray from what you believe. If you would sit and listen to them then give parts of what they said to you back to them then you are being opposite from this world because you simply listen. So, go ask if you can talk if they say no then “dust off your shoes” if yes then sit and listen. Then ask The Lord to show you the bits of Truth that are in their beliefs and ask Him to give the words to best explain to them your beliefs.

I pray for you and your many encounters you will have with people in the future. I pray the Lord leads you and guides you. I pray people who are in your path have their hearts and minds prepared for what The Lord has for them. May The Lord come to you in dreams and visions to grow your faith and discernment. Don’t grow weary brother and sister of doing good. In Jesus Holy Name Amen.

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