Two hunters went to Alaska for a bear hunt. No sooner did they set foot in the wilderness than they came upon the footprints of a huge grizzly. At that point, one said to the other, “Why don’t you go that way and see where he went. I’ll go this way and see where he came from!”
Believers are often the same way when it comes to evangelism. We would prefer to say to a friend, “Why don’t you go and witness to Joe. I’ll go and pray for you!”
Why do believers have such hesitancy when it comes to introducing others to Christ?
Although the reasons are many and varied, there are two prominent ones. The first is that they simply do not know how. They are unsure of how to start a conversation about spiritual things and how to introduce the gospel. The second is the fear of being rejected. Of these two, fear is undoubtedly the greatest. It not only keeps one from evangelizing. It even keeps one from learning how.
How does one overcome this fear?
To begin, one must realize, the issue is never, “Are you afraid or are you not afraid?” Anyone who is honest will admit that there are times of fear in sharing Christ.
Leighton Ford once commented, “I’m an evangelist, and I have been witnessing and sharing my faith since I was fourteen years old. I have preached to crowds of 60,000 people and, yet, I still get nervous when talking to an individual about Christ.” The issue is, “Are you going to allow fear to overcome boldness, or boldness to overcome fear?”
One must also realize the importance of prayer and obedience. God has a generous supply of boldness and is waiting for His children to ask Him for it. In Acts 4:29, the early Christians did just that—asked God for boldness. Two verses later it says, “And when they had prayed . . . they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
However, one cannot ask God for boldness by saying, “I’m afraid. Help me overcome my fear. When you do, I’ll evangelize.” Instead, your attitude must be, “Help me overcome my fear as I go do it.” You must pray as you go and go as you pray. God then honors both your obedience and your prayers, and gives you boldness.
A friend once told me, “I prayed that God would make it as natural for me to talk about Him as it is to talk about the weather. He answered far beyond my expectations.” It is worth noting that he indicated that he prayed while he was going.
Your concern for people is also important. You cannot care without sharing. Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians that it was his concern for them that caused him to share the gospel. There, he says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted to you, not the gospel of God only but also our own souls, because you were dear to us” (1 Thess. 2:8). Ask God to deepen your love and concern for others!
Let’s be realists! This side of heaven, fear in sharing Christ will never be abolished. Even Paul the Apostle had times of fear. Otherwise, he would have never requested prayer for boldness (Eph. 6:19). As with him, though, boldness can conquer fear, instead of fear conquering boldness.