It was 4:00 PM, and I found myself sitting in the Arby’s on South Washington, my heart pounding, my hands shaky and my mouth dry as a cork. For the first time in my life I was inviting a student to begin a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
If you were raised as I was, sharing your faith story or testimony with someone may be a foreign idea—something only done by missionaries. In 1 Peter 3:15 it says, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.”
It’s easy to understand why sharing our faith can be a fearful experience. There is risk involved. We could be thought of as a fanatic, or perceived as thinking we are better than others, or accused of being judgmental, and yet Christ desires us to show and share his love to the world—in our case, to students.
Telling others about Jesus does not have to be scary, though. For example, if I asked you to tell me about the time you lost a loved one, or how you coped with being laid off, or how you survived a difficult class in school, I know you could, and I’m guessing you might even highlight how Jesus helped you through it. When we are able to walk alongside those (students) struggling with similar life experiences, there will be natural opportunities to share your story and Jesus’ role in it. In the context of a real, authentic relationship, sharing your life story gives your students (believing or unbelieving) glimpses of hope in a world devoid of hope apart from Jesus Christ.
Back at Arby’s . . . I’ll never forget his quick, yet monotone response: “No thank you.” What Lord? Really? NO? I stepped out in faith, was obedient, and this is what I get—a NO! How could this be? Later that evening I was reminded that I have the opportunity to tell others about Jesus, but he has the responsibility to change hearts. That young man had not said no to me; he had said no to Jesus. Thankfully, Jesus does not always accept our first responses. God had helped me to plant a seed in this young man’s life, and only God could bring that seed of faith to bear fruit in his perfect timing. Even though the student’s response was not the one I had been praying for, it was the most alive I had ever felt as a Christ follower!
This summer as you find yourself on a faith-forming experience like Serve or Live It, ask yourself if God has placed someone in the group that needs to hear about Jesus through your story. My guess is that the answer will be yes! I hope that the articles and information on the following pages will be a blessing to you as you prepare. It’s also my prayer that God will help you discern the Holy Spirit’s whispers this summer, and give you the boldness to step out in faith.
When God blesses you with the opportunity to help someone invite Jesus into their life, here are some Scriptures verses you might find helpful. Start by writing John 3:3,7 in the notes section of your Bible, and then go underline those verses. In the margin near John 3:7, write Romans 3:23, and then go underline that passage as well. Continue this process in order using the following passages: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, 1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19, John 3:36, John 1:12, and Revelations 3:20. These are basic verses that will help your friend make an informed decision on whether on not to accept Jesus into their life. As you end with Revelation 3:20, “I stand at the door and knock, if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in,” you can ask if they want to invite Christ into their heart.