The “Visitors”

This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

Talk to You about CheesesWhen I attended Baptist churches “back in the day,” I was expected to go “Visiting.” That meant participating in some very intentional and formulaic evangelism. Church members would gather at the church at an appointed time and then go “visit” people. Sometimes invited, sometimes just expected and sometimes the visits were “cold calls.” In every case, the circumstance was the same. The Visitors (always in pairs) were expected to show up at the home of someone they had never met, knock on the door and talk to them about Jesus.

My view on that?

Creepy. “oh great, the Christian stalkers know where I live, pull the curtains, turn off the TV and the lights and everybody be totally QUIET till they go away” creepy.

or is that just me?

Surprisingly, more often than not, The Visitors reported that people responded graciously, even when they said “no. I actually do NOT want to talk about Jesus” and “no, you definitely can NOT come in.”

In spite of my personal aversion to Visiting, I actually believe there are ZERO limitations for how people come to Jesus. I’ve heard stories about people coming to Christ through visiting, street evangelism, Christian tracts left in a public restroom, billboards, songs, bumper stickers…you name it. I agree with author and theologian Steve Harper when he said:

Every form of evangelism works for some people.”

But the fact is, those things don’t draw people to Christ. Only God can do that.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.
John 6:44

I believe God can use anything and anybody to draw people to Himself.

I’m the one who places limitations on what God can do. Both back in the day AND today.


Never did it.


Not once.

And at one of those churches I was the music minister’s wife.

The music minister’s stubborn wife.

I used to say that evangelism wasn’t my spiritual gift.

But I knew the truth then and I know it now. I don’t like “Visiting.” Especially cold-call visiting.


So while I don’t decide what God can and canNOT use to draw someone to Christ, it appears I do decide how I myself will be open to being used by the Holy Spirit.

Knowing that about myself, does that mean that given a chance, I would choose to go “Visiting?”

pshhhh. no.

If another Christian told me that all Christians “should” go Visiting, would I go?


If God prompted me to go Visiting, would I go?


I know me. and I’ve read the “yeah, but” conversation Moses had with God when God told him to do something he didn’t want to do. I would explain to God that those types of encounters are not my forte. I would remind God that I myself find that type of evangelism off-putting. I would remind Him of the fact that I am a witness in my everyday interactions with people. I would point out specific people He placed in my path, opportunities He provided and how I responded. I would ask him to equip me for those personal encounters. And I would conveniently neglect to mention the opportunities I let pass because I was too much of a coward to speak.

And if God listened to all that whining and still prompted me to go cold-call “Visiting?”

I would stall.

And eventually go. Because I’m not that stupid. I’ve also read the story of Jonah. Disobedience is MUCH more uncomfortable than cold-call evangelism.

So, yes. I would go. But I wouldn’t like it. And God would know it. Because He’s God. and He knows me. No need for pretense. That’s one of the best aspects of an intimate relationship. No need for a pious charade.

Just obedience.

The truth is that being a witness for Christ can mean very different things to very different people. Here are a few examples. (I must admit. My favorite is the guy with the megaphone.)

That video showed 7 variations on evangelism. My thought on each?

1. no.
2. no.
3. no.
4. no.
5. no.
6. no.
7. YES.

In my last post, I said that I’ve learned the hard way that the word “evangelism” does not have a one size fits all definition and that my personal working definition of evangelism is:

“Being a witness to what Christ has done and is doing in my life – because I’m so passionate about it I can’t keep it to myself.”

Within the framework of that definition, evangelism doesn’t take place at a certain time or place. For me, evangelism takes place in my everyday interpersonal interactions.

tolerance is a two way streetThat means in the context of my everyday interactions with people, I am very open about my faith. Because I’ve learned that if I hide the thing that is most important in my life from the people I interact with in an effort to make them more comfortable, we will never be true friends. They will never know who I really am. I will be a big fake. The hiding would be deceitful. I tell people about my faith in Christ because it is such a integral part of my life that to hide it from people would be to hide myself. It would keep people at a distance.

So if you would be more comfortable with a fake friendship, I’m not your girl. We will never have a running text thread. And you will not have your own unique ring tone or text message notification on my cell phone.

We will never be more than acquaintances.

Here’s what evangelism looks like in my life: When I interact with people, the first thing I want to do is get to know more about them as an individual. I ask questions. I listen. I ask more questions. and I listen. Sometimes, the other person shares something about their own life or experiences or goals or dreams or obstacles or fears that calls to my mind something in my own life and experience – something which relates in some way to what they’ve shared with me. Since Christ is such an integral part of my life, it’s only natural that those experiences would be saturated by His presence and influence.

I don’t filter Him out of my life stories to make other people more comfortable.

What about you? Do you filter out what Christ has done and is doing in your life in an effort to make people more comfortable? To make yourself easier to like?

Are you hiding the most important part of yourself and in the process, sabotaging the potential for authentic friendships? Are you keeping people at a distance? Settling for another acquaintance when you could have a true friend? What happens if you give the other person more credit than that? What happens if you trust them accept you for who you are even if they are different than you?

Sharing what Christ has done and IS doing in my life occurs naturally within my interpersonal relationships. It stems from a genuine extension of friendship and respect. It stems from authentic transparency.

I used to think that if I was transparent about my faith I would be rejected. Sometimes I am.

Because sometimes?

We are not as tolerant as we would like to think.

But more often than not, I’ve found that people are very gracious. More than tolerant. Friendly and engaging even. Even when we don’t agree.


Because there is a HUGE difference between telling people what I believe and telling people what I think they should believe.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how I live my life and telling people how I think they should live theirs.

There is a HUGE difference between telling people how my faith in Christ impacts my life and this:

The first is evangelism.

The second is just obnoxious.

“We are called to be witnesses – to show and tell what we have seen and what we know. We are to be a witness of the way that God, through faith, prayer, and the Bible, has transformed our lives.”

Going Public with Your Faith
by William Carr Peel and Walt Larimore

This is the 13th post of a series. Hopefully, this is the LAST post on the turn or burn evangelism tangent that completely hijacked my original point. Next post, I’m back on topic. If you need to catch up or review, CLICK HERE to view a page listing all the posts in the series.

collateral learning.

I’ve said before that I’m the friend who prefers coffee and conversation over a couple of hours sitting silently in a dark movie theater together. I’m the friend you can talk to about the stuff that keeps you up at night – and I’m not going to judge you or tell you what to do – because I have no idea what you should do. If you let me, I’m going to pray with you and if you’re uncomfortable with that, I’m going to pray for you on my own. I’m going to listen and ask you relentless questions to help you think through and hone in on what you probably already know but sometimes can’t see because it’s blurred and hidden by the chaotic pace of life. or maybe fear. or rationalization.

I’ve been blessed and honored to have been trusted in many of those kind of conversations over the years. I’ve been blessed to see God move in some of my friend’s lives in unpredictable and phenomenal ways.

But it’s not at all uncommon for God to use these conversations to change ME. Rarely do I come out unaffected. If I’m open to it, I learn something every single time. About myself, what I believe, why I believe it and what God would have me do with what He’s teaching me. It’s one of the selfish reasons I’m so motivated to continue having “onion layer” conversations with people.

But learning is always risky. The results can be inconvenient. It’s so much easier to stick with the status quo. I usually find change unsettling and sometimes its effects are uncomfortably far-reaching. But when I have the courage to listen and be open, I make myself available for God to work in my own heart and life.

In one situation, I had a friend who asked me a question I couldn’t answer. Well, I answered it, but my answer was . . . lacking. I’ll tell you the question, but trust me, it’s not as simple as it appears:

If someone has what they believe to be – and what, in every way sounds like – a saving faith in Jesus Christ; If they believe He is THE only way to Heaven, their redeemer, the son of God, without sin, was crucified, dead and buried, descended into Hell, was raised and sits at the Father’s right hand. If they believe all this, and have gratefully accepted this gift of grace, if they regularly read the Bible and believe it is the Word of God, if they consistently spend time in prayer and they strive to live their life seeking God’s will . . . here it comes . . .

Is it possible to believe and accept Jesus WITHOUT believing and accepting His claim to BE God?

In other words, my friend believed Jesus is the Son of God, but didn’t believe Jesus IS God. They believed Jesus had all the authority of God because God granted it to Him, as His only Son. BUT. They did not believe the Father and the Son were One. They did not find the trinity to be reasonable any more than they found the word trinity in the Bible. When they asked, “When Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane the night before he was crucified, who was He talking to? Himself? That doesn’t make sense!

My immediate thought was, pshh. I talk to myself all the time.

Wait. Is that weird?

Citing multiple personality disorder as my strongest apologetic? Would not have been my strongest witnessing moment. I had to face the unpleasant fact that I was pitifully prepared to provide scriptural reasons I believe Jesus IS God. I had my own personal reasons and they made perfect sense. To me. But my friend was asking me to show them in the Bible. And I couldn’t do it, at least not on the spot. I had to tell them the truth. The inexcusable fact was that I had long ago worked through what I believed and why I believed it regarding the trinity and once I did, I moved forward. I remembered very little about why I believe what I believe. I just knew it to be truth.

As a result, even though the conversation was focused on them and their struggles, I experienced collateral learning that extended far beyond that conversation. That one question was the impetus for some serious Bible reading and theological discussion. I found multiple scripture verses supporting my belief that Jesus and God are One essence. And I’m going to remember them this time.

But I still didn’t have an answer as to whether believing Jesus and God are One is essential to salvation. Meaning, I found lots of support for my belief that they ARE One, but nothing about what it means to believe and accept Jesus WITHOUT believing and accepting His claim to BE God. But even that statement seems paradoxical.

So what did I learn, besides the scriptural support for my belief in the deity of Jesus Christ? I had to come to terms with the fact that there was NOTHING I could say or do to convince them. For every verse I found to support my position, they could point to another which supported theirs. Convincing them that Jesus IS God was not my job. It was GOD’S job. My job was to remain open to God’s leading and obedient to his promptings. He would do the rest. In His time.

My friend told me that God used me in their life. I would say the same.

i’m going to be there.

Today, I cared for my friend, PrincessG’s two daughters while she was debilitatingly ill from her Monday chemo treatment. She knew on Monday, as the chemicals were entering her body that she would be very, very sick today. She knew, weeks ago that she would be this sick today. That’s when she asked if her daughters could sleep over tonight.

PinkGirl is in drama camp with the daughters, CutieK and KRed this week and next, so I’ve been picking them up everyday at noon and taking them to lunch. Monday and Wednesday, their dad drove all the girls to drama camp and I picked them up. After lunch, I took CutieK and KRed for play dates at the homes of other families stepping in to help. Tuesday, I took the girls to camp, worked on client site for two hours, picked them up, brought them home and let them swim until their dad picked them up. Today, I drove them to camp, made a long over due Walmart run for necessities, picked them up, fed them lunch, took them to the grocery store with me and brought them home to swim.

CutieK’s big sister, KRed was diagnosed with autism at a very young age, but after years of many different kinds of therapy, she is exceeding her doctor’s expectations. When I see FavoriteSon play with KRed, the patience he shows, I’m so proud of the young man he is becoming. The understanding he displays when she distances herself from PinkGirl and CutieK, encourages me so much. He provides a calm, laid back environment where she can “chillax.” When I see PinkGirl defend her when other kids make fun, I am so proud. I see PinkGirl automatically include her and miss her when she wants to take a break. I am so thankful for the compassion my kids are displaying in this situation.

After swimming, we pulled the kitchen table into the family room, covered it with blankets to make a tent and the girls watched “The Little Princess” on DVD while eating a picnic dinner in their tent. The last play the three of them were in was The Little Princess, so they all wanted to watch it. After the movie was over, I asked the girls if they wanted to go for a walk. PinkGirl and KRed were all about scooters and helmets and getting ready. But, even in the excitement, it was PinkGirl who noticed CutieK curled up in the recliner with her pillow. Crying.

PinkGirl was all over it. “What’s the matter? Are you okay? What’s wrong? MOM! CutieK’s crying! It’s okay. Do you need a tissue? What’s the matter?”

“I want my mom and dad.”

oh. no. that movie was NOT a good idea. A father and daughter almost separated forever and tearfully brought together at the last minute. Father and daughter crying and hugging. Why didn’t we watch Alvin and the Chipmunks?

This is something I can’t fix. and I mean I REALLY can’t fix. For all the distraction and fun I and all the other families have been throwing at these two sweet girls, this is the one thing they would trade it all for. Being home. With mom and dad.

I sent PinkGirl and KRed out to get the bikes/scooters/helmets ready while I called CutieK’s dad, left a message and then went to the recliner to talk to her. What could I possibly say? She was trying to stop crying. Well. That’s not right. She’s 7. She should be able to cry if she needs to. And she needed to. I knelt down, held her hand and rubbed her back. Floodgates opened. I let her cry for a few minutes without interrupting. I just wrapped by arm around her shoulder and held her hand. I wasn’t going to tell her it was okay. It wasn’t okay. If everything were truly “okay” then she wouldn’t be at my house at that moment. She would be home with her mom and dad. She knew that. But when did she get to cry about it? When did she get to take a break from being brave? When the tears slowed, I said, “CutieK, I know you’re sad and I know it’s hard. It’s okay to be sad.” More tears. More back rubbing. “There are so many people who love you and who are praying for you and your family.” I wait. The tears slow again. “Your mom is getting better, you know that don’t you?” Shrug. “I know that it doesn’t look like it because she doesn’t have any hair, but that’s part of getting better. Really. The medicine she is taking is helping her, it just makes hair fall out.” quiet. Then, the other two girls burst in and inept as I am, I gear back up into distraction mode because I am that much of a coward.

“Do you want to go for a walk now? I’ll take my cell phone with us, so when your dad calls back, you can talk to him.”

“ummm hmmm.”

CutieK’s dad called before we left for the walk. I gave her some space and went outside to wait with PinkGirl, KRed, FavoriteSon and one of his friends. When the phone call was done, she joined us outside. You know a surefire way to distract a little girl from the fact that her mom has cancer? Before you take her on a walk, let her watch two 13 year old boys shoot expired soda cans with a BB gun (from a safe distance).

The good news is that, as of April, PrincessG’s cancer is “resolved” and the chemo seems to be working. The bad news is that it was stage IV breast cancer. The chemo continues because the doctor wants to kill every. last. cancer. cell. in her body. She shaved her head less than two weeks ago. The good news is that PrincessG’s community has hundreds of members, all pitching in as they can. Many, many families, bringing meals, cleaning, running errands, picking up kids, caring for kids . . . you name it. The hard part is that this has been going on for months and this blessing of childcare is . . . unsettling for the kids. They want to be home. I get it. I wish, with all my heart that I could have taken CutieK home tonight when she missed her mom and dad.

But until that’s possible, I’m going to be there for this family. Because, it is only by the grace of God that I, myself, am not battling cancer. It is only by the grace of God that the little girl crying and wanting to be home with mom and dad – wasn’t my daughter.

This post was inspired by Linda’s post, “Teaching Our Kids to Care” at Mocha with Linda.