Mariska Nel just started learning how to talk to people about Jesus from Cru staff members Russell and Emilee Hill.
As she continues to take steps of faith into spiritual conversations, she’s learning to keep 8 key things in mind:
Mariska has found that her willingness to talk about God with others is futile if she hasn’t first asked His blessing on her conversations.
“Pray for each conversation you have to be God-centered,” Mariska says. “That’s what will give you courage.”
Just as Mariska knows she’s only able to describe her family members to others because she knows them intimately, she’s also found that she’s only able to describe Jesus to others if she’s spending regular time in prayer and His Word.
In the early stages of their friendship, Russell and Emilee would frequently invite Mariska over for coffee or dinner. They talked with Mariska, asked her questions, and genuinely listened when she answered.
“The conversations were God-centered,” Mariska says. “They asked deep questions, but never told me how I should be.”
After their discussions, Russell and Emilee challenged Mariska to begin having similar conversations with people in her life, like co-workers, roommates and friends.
Some good questions she starts with are:
“Ask what matters most to people and try to see how God fits into that situation in their lives,” Mariska says. “How do they see God? Or do they even see Him at all?”
These questions get people thinking about what they believe and why, and often lead to interesting spiritual conversations, Mariska says.
Mariska observed the benefit of inquiring into people’s feelings about their beliefs during a conversation with her roommate.
Mariska first asked her roommate what she believed and why. Her roommate told her that she was an atheist because she would rather believe in nothing than in something she wasn’t sure was true. When Mariska asked her roommate how she felt about this, her roommate said that she envied Mariska’s ability to have faith in God.
“Always return to how they feel about things,” Mariska says. “Some people aren’t as intellectually driven as others, but we all cry and laugh. If you want to relate to someone in a way that will strike deeply, it’s through emotion.”
Mariska has found that simple questionnaires or photo surveys are extremely effective for initiating spiritual conversations with people you don’t know. These surveys shatter conversation barriers, provide easy dialogue material, and often serve as a bridge into the gospel.
Listen more than you talk, Mariska says. Allow the other person freedom to express their feelings, even if it’s anger at God. The moment you begin to tell them how they should feel is the moment the conversation will die, she says.
“Christianity isn’t something to be ashamed of, and so many people are,” Mariska says.
Remembering how Jesus has changed her life and how He wants to change the lives of others empowers Mariska to speak the gospel boldly.
Know that the work you have started, the Lord will complete, Mariska says. God has reminded her that He will be the one working in that person’s heart long after she has left them. She always tries to end on a good note so that if the person wants to re-visit the conversation later, they feel comfortable to.
Mariska’s steps of faith have helped her overcome her fears and get excited about initiating spiritual conversations.
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When you tell your story, it’s God who is responsible for changing people’s hearts. You are simply called to be ready and to share what God has done in your life.
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