Christian life

Witnessing — Come On In!

two parrots looking at each otherBack in the day, TV personality Art Linkletter was used to awkward conversations—with little kids, that is. Some of his famous kid interviews became his book Kids Say the Darndest Things!

One example from the book: Linkletter tells of sympathizing with a little girl who hadn’t slept and had bags under her eyes. Her response was, “You have them, too, Mr. Linkletter. Only yours are bigger!” He then warned us readers to run from kids if we can’t stand that kind of interaction. And added, “But you’d be amazed at how warm and human you begin to feel after the first few shocks. You’ll be tempted to yell to timid souls outside the circle of tiny friends, ‘Come on in, the candor’s fine!’” (pgs. 90, 91).

We sometimes avoid sharing our Christianity with others because we overly fear a possible awkward moment, negative pushback, embarrassment at not knowing an answer, or even the other person’s hostility. And maybe we’re reluctant to be vulnerable about weaknesses we have.

I’d written one testimony here. Consider a few other true-life examples:

  • A petite Christian woman happened onto a drug deal taking place at a gas station. She approached the young man who was selling. Here’s basically what happened:

SHE: You look like a pretty good salesman.

HE: Yeah. Wanna buy something?

SHE: No, I don’t need drugs. God fills all my needs. And I just think God wants you to be talking about him. He gave you skills to be used for him.

  • A Tibetan Buddhist sand mandala ceremony was being held at a university. Two Christians attended to silently pray against it. Each of the Buddhist monks seemed to have a student host to assist them while they were on campus. As the monks were interacting with the crowd, one of the Christians asked one of the monks, “Do you know about Jesus?” Immediately, that monk’s student helper stepped in and strongly told the Christian, “You can’t say that to him!” Well, at least the effort was made. (And isn’t it interesting that this demon-invoking ceremony was OK, but merely asking a question about Jesus wasn’t?)
  • A Christian architect described how he lived out his faith in his career. When asked to design a new school building, the architect considered that this was to be a space occupied by valuable human beings who were created in the image of God—students, teachers, and various staff people. He took care to use good materials and make things visually appealing, not simply functional. He even took care to allow for natural light in the janitor’s office, giving dignity to that role. Now, the old building had been routinely vandalized by a local gang comprised of former students—and he knew that. But when the new building was done, the gang took note. The leader came to school officials, saying something like, “You won’t need to worry about us anymore. We can see now that you people care about the kids that go here. We’ll protect this building.”
  • I’m very squeamish about medical situations/details. When I was in cancer treatment, there would be maybe a dozen patients all in the same room for a few hours. I couldn’t bear to just sit there, watching those who were especially bad off and hearing gruesome details. But I also wondered whether they knew the Lord; and if not, how could they bear thinking of where this dread disease might lead? That concern moved me to take the opportunity to chat with those who were able, and to pass around little gifts. Once I made origami “kabuto”—samurai warrior helmets. And in fine print on the bottom edge of each, I wrote, “Ephesians 6:10-18,” the armor of God passage. I merely told each patient, “Keep being a warrior in your battle! Here’s a little samurai warrior helmet as a reminder.” They loved it! And of course, I prayed they would read that passage in a Bible.
  • One brand of kombucha has a flavor called “tantric turmeric.” A Christian shopper told the supermarket manager, “Just wanted you to know that I won’t be buying anything from this product line. See, I study the occult. Tantric relates to black magic/sex magic. [The manager jumped back.] I can’t give money to that sort of promotion.”
  • In Japan we called on a family whose little boy had just died. The non-Christian parents (probably knowing Buddhist beliefs) seemed concerned about their child’s afterlife condition. And, knowing that my husband was a minister, they opened up a bit—no doubt looking for any kind of assurance that the child was “safe.” My husband referenced Matthew 19:14 and told the group that little children are innocent and are safe with the Lord. Though these folks didn’t fully understand, they were comforted in the moment and had been given food for thought about Christianity.
  • In this next, you have to imagine that my caller had a thick Indian accent.

ME: Hello?

CALLER: I want to tell you something.

ME (thinking this was a telemarketer, though his opening words seemed a bit odd): Uh… OK…

CALLER: I want to tell you something: Jesus loves you!

Thrown off guard by this “sales pitch,” I just said “Well, thank you” and hung up. But I had to appreciate that he was willing to put himself out there!

  • When my daughter was in Thailand for a couple of years, she did something unheard of: went several times to a Buddhist temple and chatted with the monks. Since they were interested in all things religious, she could openly explain the Bible and Christianity. As she prepared to return to the States, one of the monks said, “All those things you’ve been telling us? Tell everybody.”
  • An older lady encouraged a young mom who was wrestling with two toddlers at the supermarket: “Honey, it’s been 40 years for me, but I remember! Trust me—the effort is worth it! If you need a church that has a good kids’ program …”
  • When I shouted “hello” to the tire repair guy at the back of the very deserted lot, he shouted “goodbye” without turning toward me. Then seeing me, he said, “Sorry. I thought I was hearing voices again.” As he walked toward me, I was a bit nervous as he confessed, “I shouldn’t get high on weed.” After he took care of us (saying, “Glad to help ladies in distress”), I said, “Listen, you don’t need weed. You need [pointing upward] him.” He said, “I know, but some things are hard.” My daughter offered to pray right then. He said, “Pray for people who are hurting and in need.” My daughter began to pray, and he began to cry.
  • A Christian man came upon a couple of strangers who were having a theological discussion but were struggling with their topic. The man eased in: “Sorry, I couldn’t help overhearing. Would you like some information on that topic?”

Sometimes these types of scenarios don’t go well, sure. But let’s think more in terms of Art Linkletter’s suggestion: “Come on in, the candor’s fine!”


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