The last three months has been quite the experience for me writing this series. A lot can happen in only three months. I´ve formed new friendships, visited new countries, learned about faith and grace in rich, new ways, and also learned about myself in deeper, meaningful ways.
Today, we conclude the Lifestyle Evangelism series with a topic that is pertinent to discuss.
In my eight years as a disciple, God has given me the opportunity to do ministry and be fruitful in three countries and nine cities. Including this website, God has decided to use me to reach over 50 countries, including several where Christianity is illegal and dangerous.
In my time as a Christian, I´ve evangelized and studied the Bible in English, Chinese, and Spanish, and I´ve faced intense challenges in unfamiliar places. As an American who has experienced the most minimal amount of persecution I can think of (including being kicked out of institutions for sharing my faith, being publically slandered as a heretic, and more), I regularly thank God that the persecution I´ve faced has seldom been a threat to my life, and that the only true danger I´ve faced is the danger of not saying anything at all.
I remember one day about five years ago. I was having a normal conversation with my Christian friend (let´s call him Joe). A mutual friend of ours approached us as we talked with each other and said, "Hey guys, I was riding the city bus when suddenly I overheard someone saying, 'You are studying the Bible with Daniel and Joe? That is an awful decision. Those guys are heretics, and are teaching people how to become Christians that are already Christians!" Of course, we were studying the Bible with a lot of people, and some of them were greatly offended by the Truth laid out in scripture. To this day I have no idea who was spreading the slander around the city.
I recall another ongoing conversation with a strictly existentialist atheist, also my Metaphysics professor in college, on the meaning of life and existence of God. In an exchange of emails and in-person conversations, I shared a passage with him that greatly connected with the material studied in class that day. He responded in email in these words: "Two victories this week for civilization in the US... the maintaining of a form of national health care, and the granting of a universal right to gay marriage. And yet, we are an infant species, making stars and suns into gods, making luck and chance into meaning, making the natural into the supernatural. It would be nice to imagine our species breaking free from the illusions of supernaturalism, but it´s very unlikely, given the indoctrination of children into religious creeds, given the fear of death, given the fear of facing the actual cosmos´ vastness and indifference. Take care."
There is another situation I remember. I was discussing Jesus and the Bible with a close Christian friend of mine. In the middle of our discussion, a friend of ours, a former Christian, walked by and sparked a conversation: "What are you guys up to?" To which our response was, "Same old same old. Talking about Jesus." His response was, "Oh wow... you guys still believe in Him?" Without allowing for an opportunity to respond, he walked away.
I´m constantly reminded of Jesus´ words in these circumstances: "You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved" Matthew 10:22.
Paul echoes this sentiment in 2 Timothy 3:12: "In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted..."
And later Peter writes similarly in his first letter: " 12 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. 15 If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler. 16 However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear that name."
We have spent eleven separate weeks studying the Biblical principles of lifestyle evangelism, but it´s all utterly meaningless if we don´t live our lives in a way that reflects the goodness of the message of reconciliation that we´ve received.
Though I´ve experienced minimal persecution (I say minimal because there are still those whose lives are at risk in other areas of the world), God has blessed the perseverance.
In the midst of the stories above and many more, God still wants people to be saved even more than we do.
There are so many opportunities each of us have to change someone´s life, regardless of how we think we might be persecuted.
I met a person while buying clothes a thrift store who is now a Christian.
I´ve met multiple people in different workplaces who are now Christians.
I´ve used group Bible discussions to spark the interest of several people who have become Christians.
I´ve met people just by walking around, talking with people at school, in class, at work, on Facebook, and more.
I´ve made a Craigslist ad for "Free Bible Studies".
I´ve studied the Bible with countless people in countless places, but not because I am any different than you. The only reason I´ve had the opportunity is because I expect persecution, and I don´t allow people hating me or not liking me stop my kinetic energy. There are times of discouragement and sometimes heartache, but our response to these discouragements is what can and will dictate our lifestyle evangelism.
You all have exactly what it takes to be a disciple who makes disciples. If the Holy Spirit truly lives inside of you, then there is no persecution, not even death, that can stop you from proclaiming the good news of Christ.
My prayer for you reading and for the ministry of this website to come is that God works powerfully to inspire people to dream big dreams for him. There is no place too dangerous, no persecution too strong, no person too important, no mountain too high, that can stop the Spirit driven Christian from changing the world, and completely altering the fabric of humanity.
The world is dark. And it may be growing darker. Tomorrow is too late. Now is the time.
Will you live a lifestyle of evangelism?