How do you feel about talking with a complete stranger? How do you feel about sharing the joy of the gospel with a complete stranger? How do you feel about sharing the joy you have in your heart with a family member or a friend?
I would imagine answers to those questions will vary. One response could certainly be that it would be one of the most frightening conversations to carry out.
Risen Savior in Mansfield, Ohio, was looking for ways to share the gospel in the community, surrounding the church. The church enlisted the help of “Praise and Proclaim” and speaker Mr. Dave Malnes. A weekend was set aside to learn some techniques that might open the door to being able to share the message of our Savior Jesus – with strangers, family, and friends.
A total of 20 people attended the Friday night training and role playing session. Besides those from Risen Savior, members from four other WELS churches made the hour-long drive to be part of the seminar.
Saturday rolled around and it was time to put the training into practice. Practicing and having fun in the basement of the church is one thing, knocking on a stranger’s door is a whole different ball game. Eight groups, of two people each, were ready to head out Saturday morning (after the rain stopped). Anxiety, fright, sweaty palms, and plain terror filled the room.
A sampling of statements that could be heard before heading out the door:
“I’ll hold the clipboard. You can do the talking.”
“If you need me, I’ll be right behind you.”
“Do I have to talk?”
After an hour or so of walking the neighborhoods, we gathered back at church for a debriefing. The fear and anxiety was replaced with excitement and joy. Now you could hear phrases like:
“After stumbling through the first couple, it became easier.”
“My heart started beating again after a couple of doors.”
“People were actually nice.” and
“It really wasn’t as bad as I anticipated.”
Excitement was in the air as people shared their stories. The goal was not to simply invite people to church but actually share the gospel.
Adding up all the groups, the message of our Savior Jesus was shared with over 50 people. Five additional people were interested in getting even more information. Over 300 doors were knocked on during the day and information about the church was handed out or left at the door.
When I look back at the weekend, I know some people were praying for the rain to continue all day so they could stay in the warm confines of the church basement. However, after the event, the thrill of sharing the gospel overruled the previous fear and anxiety. The final phrases spoken that hit home:
“When are we able to go out and do this again?”
“I am able to share this with family and friends.”
Mr. Malnes put it best when he said, “Witnessing is more about God than about us.” May God continue to bless our efforts.
Written by Brad Wright, home missionary at Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Mansfield, Ohio.
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