For some of us, the very thought of sharing the gospel with our friends, co-workers, or neighbors may cause us to break out in a cold sweat. Perhaps our hands begin to shake, and our knees feel like they’ll buckle under us. I was never more intimidated to share my faith than on the streets of Jerusalem several years ago. I had all the symptoms of an anxiety attack at the very thought of standing on Ben Yehuda Street, handing out gospel tracts.
For days just prior to our arrival in Jerusalem, God had been speaking to my heart about my fears. He reminded me of the time I was afraid to drive on a busy freeway in Los Angeles. My hands shook, and I felt sick to my stomach. I gripped the wheel of the car and recited over and over with full assurance, The Lord hasn’t given me a spirit of fear, but a sound mind.” Sure enough, my fears were replaced with a peaceful calm. After that day, I was never afraid to drive even the busiest of highways. The Lord reminded me that just as He had calmed my heart then, He would not fail me on the streets of Jerusalem.
Seven of us had come to distribute our literature. Our t-shirts proclaimed in Hebrew that Jesus is the Messiah, and within minutes I began to hear the word “missionary” whispered throughout the crowd that gathered. The whispers escalated to yells, and several people began screaming insults in Hebrew and Yiddish.
In less than five minutes, the crowd became hostile enough to tear the tract bags from our shoulders, scattering our tracts everywhere. Two of the men with us were surrounded by an angry mob who began to pull at them and to hit them with their fists. One person in our group lost his glasses, but a man standing and watching was kind enough to pick them up and hand them to one of the women.
I was shoved to the ground, and an Orthodox man threatened to kick me. But a woman standing outside of the mob yelled at him and he hurled insults at me instead. The woman began to cry, trying to make sense of the chaos. I got up and she asked me in broken English why the people were so upset. I explained that we believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah, and that they disagree.
“How can you do this?” she asked, “Why aren’t you afraid?” I realized then that I wasn’t afraid. All my fear and anxiety had subsided and was replaced with an amazing sense of peace—peace that nothing would separate me from God, nothing. I couldn’t speak Hebrew, but somehow I communicated to this Israeli woman that believing in Jesus was so important that it was worth the risk to tell others.
You might never have to face an angry mob like the one we encountered on Ben Yehuda Street. You may never be threatened by a kick or the swing of a fist. But if you’re like most people, perhaps you will feel threatened by the possible rejection of friends or acquaintances when you share your faith. That fear is just as real as any other, and it matters to God. If God cared about my fear of driving on a roadway, how much more will He remove any anxiety we may have that keeps us from sharing the most important thing in our lives, the Gospel.
Sharing our faith is not an option, it is a command. Chances are we will be rejected by some, but remember that it is not we who are rejected, it is Jesus. I think of that young Israeli woman who was touched by the peace she saw in our faces. In the midst of the hostility and the anger of today’s world, we must always be mindful that people are watching us, and that we may be the only Christian they ever get to see.