Many Christians do not share the Gospel with those around them. Sometimes it’s because we don’t have relationships with nonbelievers, sometimes it’s because we don’t know what to say, and other times we simply lack the boldness to initiate spiritual conversation. Throughout my life, I have given all three of these excuses and my guess is many of you have as well.
Given these challenges in evangelism, I’m thankful for training opportunities like StreetWise at Urban Hope, a program that six of us from Grace experienced. The StreetWise experience at Urban Hope serves to help give a passion for sharing Christ with others and equipping participants to do so with confidence. Most of the training was led by Biola University professor and apologist Sean McDowell. Sean is an amazing teacher and communicated many difficult subjects with clarity and faithfulness.
Our few days in Philadelphia were as diverse as the people with whom we talked. Our time began with ministering to homeless people by simply giving them some food and then engaging with them in conversation. Many of these people were drug addicts and they freely admitted the brokenness in their lives. We had some amazing conversations and prayed with several individuals.
The next day we received training on the basic teaching of Islam and why the Bible is historically reliable. That evening we went to a Mosque and enjoyed some dialogue with their leaders. The people there were wonderfully hospitable to us, even though we had some clear and sincere disagreements.
The next several days contained basic training in evangelism and worldviews that equipped us to share Christ. We then went out into the city to initiate conversation with people. Some awesome conversations about the Gospel followed, and each of us were thrilled to share about Christ. It certainly took some boldness, but we all sensed God’s strength in our weakness.
Here are some takeaways from our participants.
One takeaway is seeing what sin can do to people. We were able to see several different people affected by sin. I knew that there were people like that, but to put it into perspective was something that will stay with me. Also, learning to share our faith without barriers was a big lesson. —Carlos Stoner
My favorite part of this week was listening to Sean McDowell. I love listening to high-caliber speakers, especially apologists, who can help me get better at sharing my faith and conforming my worldviews to look more like Christ’s and reflect His love for people. Sean gave me some deep truths that I will not soon forget, and I desire to start integrating them into everyday conversation with unbelievers. —Alec McLean
Overall, it was a very beneficial trip and I am glad that it was a part of my Pastoral Internship experience. Specifically, I think it gave me more confidence in evangelism. —Steven Ruane
I would say the best part about going to StreetWise would be the power of conversation and the power of listening to others. I was very surprised at how open people were once you started to ask about them. People love to talk about themselves and, even better, they love a captivated audience. Being able to have a human connection with others who we don’t even know really helps people search out more of what we have in common. As we continue our conversations and keep listening, we can then start to have a better grasp of that person’s worldview. As we understand a person’s worldview, we can start to ask about their beliefs about the big questions of their life. —Jesús Walle
This was an awesome trip with a great group of guys. The biggest takeaway for me was realizing most Christians have an adequate knowledge about Jesus and the Gospel to share with others. It is not a lack of knowledge that keeps us back, but a lack of boldness!
Would you begin praying that God would make you more bold in sharing your faith and that He would save those around you who need new life in Jesus?
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Zac Hess joined the pastoral staff in 2013 after serving as an intern during his seminary studies. He grew up on a farm in Ashland, OH and later met his wife, Sarah, who grew up as part of Grace Polaris Church. Zac pursued biblical studies at both Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary. He loves sports, the outdoors, reading, and a good cup of coffee. Zac and Sarah are the proud parents of Jacob and Caroline.