Christian Embassy, NY

What is Successful Evangelism?

How to reach others in the power of the Holy Spirit

Elizabeth Welsh

Dry mouth, racing heart and tied tongue. Does evangelism make you feel that way? I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to be complicated, intimidating or threatening.

When we lived in New York City, my husband, Jay, and I worked with Christian Embassy – United Nations, a ministry to diplomats from around the world.

Although they were from various backgrounds and religions, the wives of the diplomats enjoyed coming to our conversational English classes, Bible studies and social events. In one of our Bible classes, I met Mealea*, the lovely wife of an ambassador from Cambodia.

After a few months in the study, Mealea told me she was beginning to understand more about the Bible. She had recently made some very interesting comments such as, “Buddha didn’t claim to be God,” and “Buddha never rose from the dead.”

Convinced it was time for us to talk personally, I invited Mealea to come to our apartment for tea. A couple of days before our meeting, Mealea called and asked if she could bring her daughter who was on spring break from school, along with her sister, who was visiting from Cambodia.

“Sure, bring them both. We’ll enjoy a nice visit,” I said.

When I hung up the phone, my first reaction was disappointment, then panic. I argued with God. “Lord, there is no way I can talk about You to three people at once, especially when we don’t even speak the same language.”

On the day of our visit, the doorman buzzed our apartment to tell me the ladies were on their way up. I stood trembling behind my closed door and prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this. If you really want me to introduce these ladies to Jesus today, please make it supernaturally natural.”

When my guests arrived, true to the gracious practice of many international women, they came bearing gifts of candy and flowers. After placing the flowers in a vase and sharing the candy and tea, we discussed everything from families to their impressions of New York and America.

Eventually, Mealea brought up the subject of our Bible study. Since I wanted to include Mealea’s daughter and sister in the conversation, I asked if they were interested in learning more about Christianity. The daughter, who understood English, nodded in agreement.

When Mealea interpreted my question to her sister, she explained, “I know some about Christianity, but I would like to know more.”

I handed each of the three ladies an evangelistic booklet and asked if they would like to take turns reading it out loud. One thing I had learned about international women is that they love to practice their English. They enthusiastically agreed to read with me.

After each one of them read a page, we stopped and talked about the English, as well as the spiritual meaning of the words. Encouraged by their common interest, when we finished reading, I turned to each one separately and asked if she would like to have a personal relationship with Christ.

To my surprise and delight, they all smiled and answered yes. These three Buddhist women of varying ages bowed their heads, and together followed me in a prayer to invite Jesus into their hearts.

There is no greater joy than leading someone to Christ. Over the years, I’ve learned time and again that people are hungry to know God. The following tips have helped me and perhaps they’ll be a pleasant reminder to you as well.

  1. Trust God’s power to work, not yourself. Take the initiative to talk about Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. We don’t change lives — He does.
  2. Build rapport. It is true that a person will probably not care what I know unless they know first that I care.
  3. Expect results. Be positive, because enthusiasm is contagious.
  4. Pray for God to make your evangelism experience supernaturally natural. When I do this, the pressure is off, and the fun begins.

*Name changed for security purposes.

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