BY ALL MEANS START A CONVERSATION

By Janice Backer
Contributing Writer, B&R

GATLINBURG — David Evans says that God must have a sense of humor.  As a former atheist, he would ridicule and antagonize believers who would talk about God and now all his conversations are to share Jesus with others whether at a restaurant or at Walmart.

“The irony is that I am now the evangelism specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board,” he told the crowd at a breakout session of the Missions Get-Together and Connection Conference held at the Gatlinburg Convention Center on March 31-April 2.  He quoted Chuck Kelley, president of New Orleans (La.) Baptist Theological Seminary: “Southern Baptists are a harvest denomination in an unseeded generation.”

David Evans

Evans believes that sharing the gospel should be done as it was in the New Testament. Jesus shared in the synagogue but most of his witnessing was “in the moment, on the street.”

“Evangelism is organic. It is irregular. It is natural,” he said.  He suggested five ingredients to start the process:

  • Pray — to focus on the lost, to leave our selfishness and get on God’s plan.
  • Bible reading — because like a great novel we have read, we will want to talk about it.
  • Practice — go to church to become a Great Commission person.
  • Free yourself — share your story not another person’s testimony.
  • Go for it — live in the moment, speak in the moment.

How does someone transition into starting a conversation about God?  Evans suggested some phrases that we use all the time with our Christian friends that could be used to witness to non-believers:

  • “God bless you.”or “ Jesus loves you.”
  • “Is there something I can pray for you about?”
  • Just say the name “Jesus.”

After the conversation has started, then take the time to get to know the person.  First, listen to their story. Second, find a relatable aspect that compares to your experience. Third, share your testimony about your life that relates to them.  Finally, ask them if they would like to surrender their life or pray to know Christ.

Evans said that whatever problems you go through can become a witness to others. He gave two personal examples about his wife and father.

When his wife miscarried, he said that they made a vow to witness to women and men who have gone through that.

“My father was diagnosed with cancer and asked me why did God allow this to happen,” he said.  “I told my dad, ‘Don’t let cancer stop Jesus.’ ” For the first time his dad started sharing the gospel. He shared Jesus with other cancer patients in the doctor’s office.

The session ended with a video about the two instruments that measure temperature — a thermometer and a thermostat. One is reactive and just measures. The other is proactive and not only measures but can change the temperature.

“We are called to be thermostats,” Evans said. “Our spiritual conversation will set the tone or temperature of a room.  We are to be the salt and light in a world of pain and darkness.”

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