Taking the Initiative: Steps 1 & 2

Pray first, then go.

Bill Bright

Personal preparation -- being sure you are a Christian, confessing your sins, being filled with the Holy Spirit and being prepared to communicate your faith in Christ -- is the first part of how you can be a fruitful witness. The second is taking the initiative.

Four steps are involved in taking the initiative. Let's look at each briefly:

1. Pray

According to God's holy Word, if you ask anything in harmony with His will, He hears and answers you. Do you want your loved ones, your friends and neighbors to come to Christ? Begin to claim them for God.

Follow the example of our Lord, whose high priestly prayer is recorded in John 17: "I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me..." Paul and the other writers of the New Testament were frequently requesting prayer for others as well as for themselves.

I have prayed for loved ones with whom I used to weep as I pleaded with them to come to Christ. Then the day came when I realized that God was not willing for them to perish - He loved them more than I did - and so I began to thank God in faith that they would become Christians. Most of them have already received Christ. But more names continue to be added to that list.

Persevere in Prayer, Trusting God to Respond

Just as Jesus prayed that the Holy Spirit would do a work in the lives of His disciples, so you can pray that the Holy Spirit would convict non-believers and give them a strong desire for the ways of God. The Scripture promises:

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

Sometimes, however, in His mysterious, sovereign timing, He chooses to wait for the prayers of a concerned believer to unleash the Holy Spirit in that person's heart. As someone has said, "Prayer is not conquering God's reluctance - but laying hold of God's willingness."

Although God is not willing for "anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance," His schedule is not always the same as yours. Continue to trust and thank Him for the salvation and spiritual growth of those for whom He has impressed you to pray. From my personal experience and study of God's Word, I can assure you that the starting point in bringing a loved one to Christ is prayer.

Make a prayer list or keep a prayer dairy and pray for specific non-Christians and Christians by name and for specific events. As God answers prayer, record the date and describe how God answered your prayers. In a short time you will have a record of God's faithfulness that will encourage and strengthen your faith and the faith of others.

2. Go

One of the greatest barriers in witnessing is the problem of getting going. You hear all kinds of excuses: "I'm too busy," or "I'm waiting for the Holy Spirit to lead me to someone." Don't wait for the Holy Spirit to "lead you." Our Lord Jesus Christ has already commanded you to go tell the good news to all who will listen. Don't wait for them to come to you. As you follow Jesus, He will lead you to people whom He has prepared.

Remember, the greatest thing that has ever happened to you is knowing Christ, and the greatest thing that you can do for another is help him to know Christ. If this is true, you should begin to rethink your priorities. How are you spending your time? Are you taking time every day to share Christ with someone?

Many in Ministry Struggle, Too

You may be encouraged to know that many on the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ, like myself, are by nature shy. We do not always find it easy to talk to others about Christ. But since Jesus came to seek and to save the lost and since He lives within us, we simply ask Him to give us the courage to speak powerfully for Him.

Whenever I am alone with a person for a few minutes, I assume that I am there by divine appointment to share the good news of God's love and forgiveness.

For instance, while in Atlanta I stopped at a shopping mall to purchase a tie. The store manager offered his services, and while choosing a tie to match the suit I was wearing, I told him I was in town to meet with a number of Christian leaders to talk about ways to bring our nation back to God. Then I asked, "Are you a Christian?"

He said he was not, but that he had considered becoming one. I showed him the Four Spiritual Laws booklet. As I read through the booklet, I came to Law Four, which explains how to receive Christ and ends with this prayer:

"Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank You for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be."

I asked, "Does this prayer express the desire of your heart?"

He assured me that it did, so I suggested that he pray it aloud, which he did. And as soon as he finished, I prayed for him.

Then I asked him if he knew where Christ was in relation to him. He assured me that Christ was now in his life. I went on to explain how, according to God's Word, he could not only have assurance of eternal life, but grow as a Christian.

As is my practice, I obtained his address to send important follow up material.

On planes, in restaurants, even on elevators, I meet people who are eager to receive Christ.

Wherever I go, across America and in other countries, on planes, in restaurants, on elevators, in lecture halls, on the college campus, or among laymen, I meet people who are eager to receive Christ.

Sharing Christ with others should be a way of life for every Christian. When you awaken each morning, thank the Lord Jesus for living within you and ask Him to use your lips to speak of His love and forgiveness at every opportunity throughout the day.


Adapted from the Transferable Concept: How You Can Be A Fruitful Witness, by Dr. Bill Bright, co-founder of Campus Crusade for Christ. © Cru. All rights reserved.

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