Who looks, dresses, acts, and talks different from you? What should your first strategy be for telling that person about Jesus?
Two college-age tough looking guys approached our info table on campus. One of my students remarked that he thought they had trouble on their minds. Really, I asked? Is that a word of knowledge, a gut instinct, and/or a premonition? I added, “Don’t worry, it’ll be all right.”
We were out on campus offering free cold bottles of water and homemade cookies to students passing by in order to engage them in conversation about Jesus. These two young men wore leather jackets and bandanas covered with skulls and crossbones as they made their way towards us. It seemed they wanted to show these Christians (me and two guys) that there was something to fear as they reached our table: Them!
But we did not respond as the two unshaven and burly young men thought we might. I stepped out in front of them as they approached our table, extended my hand and said, “Hi, my name is Mike, who are you?” To my student’s surprise, they answered. We offered them a bottle of water and choice of cookie from a large platter (Thanks Costco!), and I asked a second question, “Where are you from?” and a third, “What did you do for fun growing up there?”
The guys relaxed, started answering my questions, and soon these visitors were enjoying our warm, friendly welcome (and snacks) as we engaged them in meaningful conversation. They said they were challenged by a friend in their dorm to come by our table and seek to intimidate us. They said they were surprised by my reception, not to mention that when I stood up and met them in front of the table, that I was bigger than both of them. They added that my questions disarmed them, the cookies were great, so they hung around long enough for me to ask them about their spiritual journey. That led to a follow-up conversation the next day, a chance to share the gospel with them, and one them deciding to trust Jesus as his Savior. It also led to the launch of a three-week investigative Bible study they agreed to host in their dorm room, which they invited their friends to. The other guy received salvation at the end of the three weeks.
Think about it. My students and I and the two tough-appearing students were different from each other. While my two students were foreign born, the two tough guys were Americans. Except for me, the four guys were all college students, and we had a few critical differences. My students were Christians, while the other two had no spiritual practices or heritage. Before our interaction, they were walking in darkness and death, while my students and I were walking in the light and shining the light of Jesus out toward others. But the cultural divide was crossed with a smile, some friendly initiative, cookies, cold water, patience, and nonjudgmental love.
Read Mark 2:13-17.
Look around at the people you have contact with, some or many of whom are far from Jesus. How can you show them unconditional, unquestioning love? What are some out-of-your-comfort-zone opportunities you can take to reach others with the message and person of Jesus?
Walk wisely. Cross the divide. Take Jesus into the campus culture where you are – even if it is different from what you are used to. The cross of Jesus knows no cultural barriers.
Love is a verb,
©2019 by Mike Olejarz