A few weeks ago, I was outside doing yard work. Seemingly out of nowhere, two ladies appeared in front of my garage. One of them quickly said, “We were going to knock at your door, but here you are. Do you have a few minutes?”
I was a bit annoyed and replied, “As you can see, I am very busy so please don’t bother me. I am very busy.”
The other lady was persistent, “If you find time after your work, please read this.” I saw the magazine cover and the featured article: “The End of the World is Near.” Yet more irritated, I told them, “Please leave me alone. I don’t believe in your propaganda. Please take it next door.”
So they quietly left.
My son and daughter-in-law were there and heard everything I had said to my uninvited visitors. I asked them, “I was very rude, eh? They did not deserve that kind of treatment. I don’t think I was a good testimony and witness.” My son answer, “Yes, you were rude, Dad. We are embarrassed!”
Immediately, I went around the neighborhood looking for the two women. I caught up with them a few blocks away. I got out of the vehicle, gently spoke with them, and with a broken heart and crushed spirit, I said to them, “I apologize for my attitude. I am very sorry for being so rude to you. Please forgive me. May I have a copy of your literature? The cover page is interesting. In exchange, may I give you a gift? This is the DVD, The Life of Jesus according to the Gospel of John.” I received their magazine and they walked away with my gift.
Why do I share this with you? What is the value in all of this? Let me share just a few thoughts:
- Theologically speaking, all human beings are made in the image of God. We must treat others with kindness and respect. They are not our enemy; instead, they are blinded by the enemy. The hymn writer pronounced, “Rescue the perishing, care for the dying, Jesus is merciful ...”
- Engaging the representatives and ‘missionaries’ of other faiths and belief systems must be done with respect, courtesy, and kindness. Leading them to the path of truth requires tenderness and compassion.
- Humility means asking for forgiveness. This quality is more effective than bending falsehood. People are drawn to Jesus with our actions—that is, when we are not condescending and arrogant.
- Receive literature graciously, but be prepared to give them something in return.
Dr. Bill Bright, founder of Cru, once said, “Success in witnessing is simply taking the initiative to share Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.” I couldn’t agree more.
Sadiri “Joy” Tira (D.Miss., Western Seminary; D.Min., Reformed Theological Seminary) is The Lausanne Movement’s Catalyst for Diasporas (i.e. formerly known as Lausanne Movement’s Senior Associate for Diasporas). He also serves as Diaspora Missiology Specialist at the Jaffray Centre for Global Initiatives at Ambrose University and Seminary (AUS), Calgary, AB, Canada; for the Advisory Council of Gospel Life, a resource of the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College in Illinois, USA; and on the Board of Directors for SIM (Canada) and MoveIn International. Joy is a regular blogger for http://www.gospel-life.net.