There is only one gospel, that's for sure. However, there are many ways to share the truth of our risen Lord and Savior.
When I began my ministry with Jews for Jesus two years ago I expected to learn the right way," a standard approach, to bring the gospel to Jewish people. And was I mistaken! That mistake is clearly highlighted by my ministry to two people who needed a very different approach to receive the gospel.
Ruth* and Haidee are both middle-aged women who were raised in Orthodox homes. Both remained loyal to Judaism and both had a similar resistance to the gospel. Each feared the negative reaction they would face from their families should they embrace Jesus. With all that these women had in common, I thought that a similar evangelistic approach would be appropriate. Yet by God's grace, I stopped for a moment to ponder Jesus' evangelistic approaches. If one word could describe His ministry it would undoubtedly be "versatile."
The Gospel of John illustrates this versatility, especially in chapters three and four. We see Jesus' encounter with the highly learned Nicodemus contrasted with the Samaritan woman, who was what one might term "worldly wise." Jesus' approach with Nicodemus was intellectual, while the woman at the well responded favorably to a more personal approach. That was my answer…for God had given me a "Nicodemus" and a "Samaritan woman."
Ruth was my Nicodemus; a highly intellectual woman, a leader in her profession in South Africa. For Ruth, there are no quick, easy answers. Within her first month of salvation she read through most of the New Testament. Our Bible studies together are in-depth and even include word studies from the Greek. Ruth's challenging questions always keep me on my toes. I have come to appreciate my Bible college training as never before!
Haidee is my Samaritan woman. My ministry to Haidee, a homemaker, stretches over two years and can best be described as relational. It took many months for me to earn Haidee's favor and trust. She has been badly hurt by so many people and circumstances that her resistance is easy to understand. Yet to my joy, she accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as her Messiah in December 1997.
The many distractions in Haidee's daily life also make in-depth study of Scripture somewhat difficult. Instead we talk about daily practical issues, and I refer her to similar circumstances in the Bible. I tell her how Jesus is willing to meet all our needs, whether they be physical, mental or spiritual. This form of ministry, no less than the intellectual approach, demands a thorough understanding of God's Word. Moreover, it requires one to imitate Jesus—to show love and care, to allow the person to know that you are willing to go that extra mile for them, to show patience.
God has taught me a valuable lesson through Ruth and Haidee. He has allowed me to see that we are not all cut from the same mold. He has also shown me that though each one of us is created as a unique individual, and we need to be versatile in our approach. Finally, He has shown me that He will enable us to reach out to people in whatever ways they, in their particular situations, so desperately need.
* Ruth is a pseudonym; Haidee's name is used with her permission.