My two year old is a better evangelist than I am. No… I mean it.
I was walking through Wal-Mart bopping along with my two-year old in the cart playing “go-see-sop” (Grocery Shop) with daddy. For those that don’t know, I live in the middle of nowhere South Texas. As a result, there is a large population of Mexican immigrants. Contrary to the political opinions that many give, most Mexican immigrants are legal, and shop where I do, Wal-Mart. When an area is friendly to one ethnic minority, more come. So my little tow-head daughter and myself go bopping along saying “Hi, hi, hi, hi, hi,…” to several Latino friends and often run accross a variety of ethnic groups. Of course, when those addressed acknowledge the tender little child, she sheepishly grins and hides behind daddy.
Well, this day we just so happen to walk next to some people who were clearly of Islamic Religious persuasion. I am usually incredibly excited to meet and talk to Muslims about faith, because, stereotypically, they are deep thinkers. But this evening I was just hoping to keep my head down, avoid conversation, settle for a nod, and get out of Wal-Mart without talking to anyone. The family was half way down the aisle, just past the apple juice. I needed to get some white grape juice… which was just past the apple juice… Darn! So I planed my approach, cut past the wife, turn my cart perpendicular to the shelf, and dive behind it as a shield to retrieve the coveted grape juice. This way I would only have to make eye contact with the father and he looked less inclined to talk than I did. I went for it!
I executed my plan perfectly! I nodded and the father nodded back and smiled a little, clearly wanting no more than I did from our encounter. Awkwardly, I ducked behind my cart and grabbed a juice (he was preoccupied with his own cart and two kids.). I turned back to my cart and noticed Julia was trying to get the man’s attention, “Hi, Hi, HI, HI!” Who could blame her, I parked her one foot from the kind looking man. Embarrassed I turned and shrugged. The man laughed and said, “hello.”
Julia then broke into spontaneous song:
“JESUS LOVES ME THIS I KNOW,
FOR THE BIBLE TELLS ME SO,
LITTLE ONES TO HIM BELONG,
THEY ARE WEAK,
they are fun….
YEEEEESSSSS JESUS LOVES ME !
They are weak, they are fun” (she has trouble with that last line.)
She proudly proclaimed what she knew to be a great song. She was unconcerned with other’s opinion, and she simply wanted to share what she knows. I looked to the man, giggled awkwardly, and said, “well she’s got that one down, eh?” He laughed at my awkwardness and said, “have a nice night.” I thought several things I could have said to get into a great conversation that could lead to a great friendship that could lead to fantastic pursuit of truth… but what came out was, “haha… you too.”
This troubled me.
You see, I have a degree in Religion from Baylor University and I am almost finished with my master’s degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS). As a part of my degree I am forced to take “Evangelism 101.” (I think it’s funny that we have to take this class. It clearly means that we don’t think of evangelism as something that is natural, but is something that must be trained into us.) Evangelism is important, so we work at it.
If class grades are any indication, I am better prepared than any other student in my class. I made an A+ and contributed a paper that will be given to every other student that takes the course.
I have 8 different methods of evangelism memorized. All of which I can seamlessly tie into the majority of conversations I am in. Though, I often avoid these methods because they feel so formulaic and forced.
I’ve done door to door evangelism, relational evangelism, tract evangelism, street preaching, and pretty much every other type of evangelism you can imagine. Some are funny, some are troubling, some are goofy and dumb, and some work.
I have personally led dozens of people to Christ.
And yet, my two-year old daughter understands something I don’t (though I am trying). That is: what is real is a joy to share. To her, it didn’t matter what the man believed, she was simply sharing what she knew. The man’s response was not the motive. She wanted to share. There was no end goal in mind. She just wanted the joy of sharing what she learned with everyone. This, I think is true evangelism. Sharing joyfully what is real.
My little girl’s strategy of evangelism is much more consistent with Paul in Acts than mine is. Paul seems to be this way. Share, cause it’s true… that’s it.