The Urban Hope team arrived home safely yesterday (except Amy who is remaining there for another two weeks) from a wonderful and impactful week. A huge “Thank You!” to all of you who have supported us through this journey, both financially and through prayer.
God taught me so much from Streetwise. The conference gave us the opportunity to learn about reaching various groups of people for Christ, and then actually going out and putting what we learned into practice each day. Going into Streetwise, I was not quite sure what to expect. Mostly, I was hopeful that it would make me better at, and more comfortable with, sharing my faith. It did, but in a way that I did not anticipate.
Mark 16:15 tells us to, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” We as believers have been commanded to spread the Gospel- to share our faith with the world. Christ is able to work through us to bring others to Him, and that is an amazing thing. But it also something that used to cause me guilt. I felt guilty about the fact that evangelism is not one of my strengths. I felt guilty that I was not serving Christ the way I thought I was supposed to. Streetwise changed that; it changed how I see myself, and how I share my faith.
Personally, I enjoy talking to people- but when it comes to bringing God into a conversation and sharing my faith, I have never been comfortable with it. I am not one who has ever been good at evangelism, or put it into practice often. But on this trip I realized that that was part of the problem. I thought that I had to be good at it to do it. I thought that what I said to a person could actually change their heart and life. This is so utterly far from the truth. The salvation of the world is not dependent on us- the salvation of the world is God’s work and God’s work alone. Nothing we say to an unbeliever will ever save them. Yes, it is our responsibility as believers to point people to Christ, and to show God’s love to, and passionately share the gospel with, the world. But it is not about having the perfect spiel of evangelism rehearsed and ready to go, or presenting the most touching and convicting speech that has the power to change lives. Because God is the only one who changes hearts and lives. And what I learned was that I when I make it about my own comfort and insecurities- or my effectiveness, I am taking away from the power of Christ, and I am making it about me.
One of the things they taught us at Urban Hope was to greet everyone we passed by on the street. That way, we did not have to think about how intimidating a person might be to us, or what response we might receive from them. We were not to pause and decide if in being kind to others would cause ourselves some sort of harm or discomfort. Stop stereotyping and just say hi.
This really hit me hard. I do a good job of blending into society and living among a culture that so desperately needs Jesus, without even caring about, or considering, the work God is able to do in them. Sure, I know God can do amazing things and work in miraculous ways, but I am I actually living like I truly believe that?
I am so guilty of judging and deciding things about people without even talking or interacting with them. Everyone needs God! It is not up to me who God saves and who He does not. And yet I pass by and overlook people every day without showing them any sort of kindness or love. Who are we to decide who deserves God’s love? When we put people into boxes based on race, wealth, poverty, sexual-identity, age, religion, and appearance, we are also putting God into His own box. If we overlook people of any kind, if we decide that we do not want to show God’s love to them, or that we should not share our faith with them- it’s like we are saying that God is not powerful enough to save that person. If God is powerful and loving enough to save me, He is powerful and loving enough to save ANYONE!
Evangelism is not about saying the right thing to the right person. It is about showing God’s love to everyone because God truly does love everyone. It is about listening to people’s stories and learning about their lives, and being willing to share how God has changed your own. It is about sharing the Gospel through love, in love. Dwight L Moody said, “The world does not understand theology or dogma, but it understands love and sympathy.”
This is what I learned this past week, thank you for letting me share it with you!
Thank You to Urban Hope and Streetwise for having us, teaching us, and allowing us to serve God alongside you.
P.S. A few photos from our last day there! Urban Hope hosted church in the street on Sunday in order to help encourage neighbors to come and join. The photo of the board was for our entire Streetwise team, and anyone met someone they wanted to continue praying for, their name went on the board. Hundreds of names by the end of the week!