Evangelical tracks. That was all we were given when we were dropped off at the 75 foot long fishing pier packed with late night fishermen, only in town for the weekend. Our single instruction was to pass out these tracks to the fishermen as a conversation starter for the gospel. This was by the far the most cut-and-dry witnessing tactic I have ever done on a mission trip.
Of course, Pastor John gave us somewhat of a pep talk, but really, this cold witnessing is what the staff at First Baptist Church of Grand Isle does every Friday night. Splitting us up into two groups of three, the other summer missionaries and I stepped onto the pier, ready to talk to complete strangers about Jesus.
If talking about my faith is supposedly natural for me, why is this type of witnessing so terrifying? A few things ran through my head as I walked up to my first encounter. Let’s call them: #ThoughtsWhileWitnessingToStrangeFishermen
Thought #1: I don’t know him.
This is true. I don’t know any of the people whom I will walk up and ask a few small talk questions before diving straight into a questionnaire of the personal beliefs of the other person. But what better way than to practice intentional conversations on a person I don’t know (and who doesn’t know me) and a person I will most likely never meet again? This should relieve some pressure and apprehension.
Thought #2: What if I say the wrong thing and scare the fishermen?
Considering that I am a random girl coming up to talk to some guy I don’t know, I don’t think I can scare him any more than that. Also, if I make myself available to God, He will use me. But if I allow my fear of saying the wrong thing to keep me from ever attempting to share the gospel, then God will not be able to speak through my words.
Thought #3: Wow, I am super awkward right now.
Fake it until you make it. If I keep acknowledging my awkwardness, then obviously it will be apparent to everyone. But if I put on a calm, cool, and collected face, then maybe I can fool myself and the person I am talking to. Nonetheless, is not the salvation of Jesus worth a little awkwardness?
Thought #4: I don’t know what to say after he is done talking. Do I ask him if he knows Jesus? Should I invite him to church? Or should I just walk away now before anything really happens?
In conversations like these, I am always thinking several moves ahead. It’s like a chess game and I have to predict the next move so that I can stay ahead of the game. But life is not a predictable chess game. What needs to happen first and foremost is for us to be still and listen. God has already planned out how everything will go, we just need to follow it. But if our thoughts are going a hundred miles an hour, then how can we listen to God?
Witnessing on the pier is something I do not look forward to every week. It’s a sad but true fact. But, it is one of the most rewarding things we do on the island because it challenges me to continually listen for God’s voice and get out of my shell. To become fearless and bold, you have to challenge yourself in situations or else, you will never improve. Perfect practice makes perfect. How many times do we just put forth a sad attempt for the gospel and pat ourselves on the back for just trying? No, we need to put it all on the line and not be content until every ear hears the gospel.
Week 4 is well under way here in Grand Isle. Keep reading and I’ll keep posting.