"Did I have any impact on that person at all?" "What if I had said…. ?" These questions and so many others can plague us after speaking to someone about the life-changing subject of who Jesus is and why He is so important.
Eighteen years of full-time service with Jews for Jesus has taught me that even when we don’t have answers to those questions, we need to keep going. Let me encourage you to not second guess such encounters with unbelievers. You don’t have to say just the right thing in order to share your faith. None of us can possibly see the big picture, so when we walk away from a witnessing situation, we really can’t know how our words may have positively affected the person. Since all believers are engaged in a spiritual battle, the adversary is always ready to tell you how poorly you performed. Please don’t listen to him. Speaking is better than not speaking.
My friend Steve is a Jewish believer in Jesus and an extraordinary evangelist! Before he knew the Lord, a girl shared her faith with him in a way that I would never recommend. She told him that if he didn’t believe in Jesus he was going to hell. Wow. Couldn’t she have found a better way to be a witness? Couldn’t she have said something a little more sensitive, maybe? But it turned out to be the very thing Steve needed to hear, because he thought about it and wondered if it were true. It set him on a course of discovery that led him to faith.
We never know where a conversation may lead. We might wish we had one of those mall maps, you know the kind you look for when you arrive at an unfamiliar shopping center and are trying to find a specific store. There’s always that big red arrow labeled, "YOU ARE HERE." Surrounding the area, colors and numbers show exactly where you need to go. You can even see what shops are on the way and maybe those are places you either want to check out or avoid.
We don’t typically get a map like that that when we are witnessing. We don’t see what’s just down the way a bit or around the corner from where we’re trying to go. But what we do have is even better. We have a God who does have the big picture and knows the complete "YOU ARE HERE" map for each one of us. In that all-knowing position, and with our willingness, God will provide us with the encounters that He intends for us to have, and will equip us to speak the necessary words at that time.
Our conversation with someone about Jesus may be just a small stop on someone’s spiritual journey, but think about what an enormous privilege that is. When we wake up each morning with the words "Use me today, Lord" in our hearts, we’ll find that "You Are Here" arrow always pointing to our place of contentment. Because we can always trust God’s promise is at work in and through us when we are willing, whether or not we see it in the moment. That contentment is unmatched by anything else.
Susan Mendelson is our missionary to Long Island, New York. Prior to that she toured with the Liberated Wailing Wall (Jewish Gospel music team) and then solo. Her album "Jewish Gospel Favorites," brings her personal style to ten Jewish gospel classics. Listen to Susan singing "In the Sanctuary" by Stephen Katz.