The face of the supermarket cashier looked familiar. Sus Schmitt wasn't quite sure why.
Normally, Sus hands out evangelistic booklets to nearly everyone she encounters, especially at a checkout. She wondered if she had already given this woman one. Not wanting to cause an awkward situation, Sus asked her if she recognized the Knowing God Personally piece.
Daphne, the cashier, said, "Yes! I love these!"
It turned out that Sus had given her more than one before, and Daphne said she had read them, begun reading the Bible, and indicated to Sus that she had placed her faith in Christ.
Sus encounters similar situations regularly. Whenever she runs an errand, she sees it as an evangelistic opportunity. Often she strikes up a spiritual conversation with the person, and usually leaves them with a gospel presentation of some sort, like booklets or mini CDs.
It's her passion. She loves hearing that she is helping people understand who God is, and she does it just by going about her routine.
However, it's not just a routine to Sus. These are divine appointments.
Often we gravitate toward the same places in our daily schedules, and like Sus, we can influence for Christ the people we meet while on our errands.
Instead of just running to the store, bank or mall, we can be purposeful in our interactions if we focus more on the people than the task.
Take Larry Stephens, for example. Like Sus, he's intentional with his activities. The 36-year-old discovered a healthy fruit drink at Planet Smoothie near his house, so he began frequenting the shop. He also hoped to build friendships with some of the workers there in order to introduce them to Jesus.
"It works for me to become a regular customer and just go there all the time," he says. "If you go during the non-busier hours, you have more of a chance of talking with the workers and they're more likely to have a conversation with you."
Larry met the manager, Ed, and started getting to know him. After several visits to Planet Smoothie, Larry asked Ed to join him and some of his friends at the theater on the opening night of a Star Wars movie. Ed went, and they began developing a friendship.
"Include them in what you are doing," Larry says. "Let them be part of your life."
He also began inviting Ed to other activities, like a Super Bowl party at his house.
At one point Larry asked if he could tell Ed more about what he believes. Ed was curious, so Larry explained the gospel to his friend.
The manager told Larry that originally he had wanted to become a monk, but had become turned off to church, and doesn't believe the Bible is entirely true.
They continue to talk about spiritual issues from time to time, when they are together or when Larry is buying a juice drink at Planet Smoothie. It's part of their friendship.
"When you talk about [spirituality] once," says Larry, "it's a lot easier to talk about it again."
Though Larry was intentional about going to the same place over and over so that he could build a relationship, not all of our day-to-day activities take us to the same places, so we need to be ready wherever we go.
"Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season," says the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 4:2. We can initiate conversations with people all the time while running errands.
I had a chance to practice this recently. I had asked God for opportunities to tell others the good news of Jesus. The very next afternoon, at Starry Night coffee shop, my chance arose.
I simply asked the baristas if they attended the nearby university, which happened to be my alma mater.
"She's moving to go to a Buddhist school in a couple of days," one coffee-drink maker said of another.
The conversation had turned toward spirituality without effort on my part. Yet I was momentarily paralyzed.
How do I bring the topic toward Christ? I wondered. I said a quick prayer, and a question popped into my mind.
"What's your spiritual background?" The Buddhist, named Allison, said she attended church sporadically as a child, and got interested in Buddhism after taking a class about it in college.
Soon, Allison questioned me some, and I was able to tell her about my own spiritual quest. I briefly explained how Christ had changed me. At the end of our conversation, Allison told me that just the night before, a local church youth-group had offered to clean their public bathroom just because they are Christians.
That incident, coupled by our conversation, led her to believe, she said, that the bad reputation Christians sometimes have is unfair.
The timing was divine, although I thought I'd just be relaxing and enjoying my latte. If we are willing to take baby steps out of our corners of coziness to prioritize people over tasks, God can use us to introduce others to Christ, or help them to think about Him more, all while doing what we'd normally do.
As Christians, the first step is always ours; we're the ones with the good news to deliver.
"People are waiting to be loved with God's love," said Bill Bright, co-founder of Cru. "By faith, you can claim God's love step by step, person by person."
Opportunities abound. Like Sus and Larry, we simply need to look for them, then take them.
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