Will You Tell Your Story?So you want to share with others how Jesus has changed your life? As the Apostle Paul’s experience has shown us, there are so many ways to witness!
Try this: Walk into a room full of Christians and ask them to raise their hands if they believe evangelism is important. Chances are, the vast majority of them will raise their hand. Once they’ve done that, thank them, and tell them you’re planning on going out into your community to evangelize, and you’d love some extra help. Pass around a sign-up sheet. Watch as feet start shuffling, excuses start flying and people straight get up and leave the room.
Telling people about Jesus is important, no doubt about it, but it’s also hard for many people—me included. Not because I’m ashamed of Him, but because when you share something as controversial as the message of Christ, you become vulnerable and that’s not easy for most of us.
If you think about evangelism in the Bible, the Apostle Paul is likely the first person that comes to mind. After he found Jesus, he surrendered his life to traveling the known world, preaching and teaching about salvation and living for Christ.
Paul took three missionary journeys. Check out the Scriptures below and circle the cities he visited on the corresponding maps.
As you can see, dude racked up some major frequent flyer miles. He was all over the place, because he believed so strongly in the message that had changed his life.
Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey
Acts 13 &14
Cities visited: Begins in Antioch, Seleucia, Salamis in Cyprus (Acts 13:2-5), Paphos (Acts 13:5-6), Perga in Pamphylia (Acts 13:13), Pisidian Antioch (Acts 13:14), Iconium (Acts 13:50-51), Lystra (Acts 14:5-6), Derbe (Acts 14:20), returns back through Lystra, Iconium, Antioch and Perga (Acts 14:21-25), Attalia (Acts 14:21-25) and back to Antioch (Acts 14:26-28).
Some seriously cool stuff happened on the way. He changed his name, established churches, was stoned (don’t worry, he survived), went to prison a couple of times, and preached so long a guy falls out of a window, plus he wrote a bunch of letters to churches that later became books of the Bible…you know, in all of that spare time he had. The message he preached began to change the world so much that the government started getting freaked out and he was sent to Rome to stand trial before the authorities there. On the way, he gets shipwrecked and then bit by a viper (don’t worry, he survived). Read the book of Acts; you’ll find some incredible stuff.
Paul’s 2nd Missionary Journey
Cities visited: Begins in Antioch to Lystra (Acts 15:40-16:1), Troas (Acts 16:6-8), Philippi (Acts 16:11-12), Thessalonica (Acts 16:40-17:1), Berea (Acts 17:10), Athens (Acts:17:14-15), Corinth (Acts 18:1), Ephesus (Acts 18:18-19), Jerusalem (Acts 18:21-22), then back to Antioch (Acts 18:22).
Paul obviously felt pretty strongly about Jesus; he endured some savage stuff for the sake of the Gospel. He didn’t do it for himself though. He did it so that people would hear about Jesus and be saved. How did he do it, though? How did he find the strength to keep moving forward? Fortunately for us, we have access to the same power Paul did—the power of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 1:8, Jesus is hanging out with the disciples, trying to teach them a few more things before He went back up to heaven. He said this, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
All Jesus asked was that we be witnesses; that we tell others what we’ve seen or heard. How did your life change when you met Jesus? How has He helped you through difficult times? What have you learned about life since you met Him? It’s not about putting together a mind-blowing sermon or the best Sunday School class, complete with crafts. You don’t have to have all of the answers or memorize some formula (though there are some pretty cool tools out there to help you remember Scripture verses for reaching others). You just have to talk about what Jesus has done in your life. You just tell your story.
Paul’s 3rd Missionary Journey
Cities visited: Begins in Antioch to Galatia (Acts 18:22-23), through Phrygia to Ephesus (Acts 19:1), through Macedonia to Corinth (Acts 20:1-2), through Macedonia to Troas (Acts 20:3-6), Miletus (Acts 20:13-15), through Rhodes and Patara to Tyre (Acts 21:1-3), through Caesarea to Jerusalem (Acts 21:7-15).
Check out where Jesus told the disciples to witness: In Jerusalem (where they already were), to Judea and Samaria (the area nearby) and to the ends of the earth (road trip!). Think about your town, your Jerusalem. Who are some people in your town that need to hear your story? Google a map of your state. What are some nearby places that you could go to tell your story? The cool thing about this is that you don’t have to just walk up to a random person on the street. You belong to The Salvation Army! There are a ton of opportunities to meet and serve people. Volunteer at the shelter. Help distribute food bags. Volunteer at day camp or youth activities. Apply to work at camp (Woot! Shameless plug for Camp Keystone. You know you want to work in Florida for the summer). Find a map of the world. Ask Jesus to give you a passion for the world or even a specific country. You might not be able to travel there right away or even ever, but there are things you can do. Support the Army in that country. Use social media to get in contact with soldiers there. Pray. The world needs to hear your story. Will you tell it?
The Holy Spirit is the one who empowered Paul and He empowers us to do the same. Don’t feel like you have to be a great preacher or teacher. Back in Acts 1:8, what does Jesus say the disciples will be? Unscramble these letters to find out: TSSSEENWI
What is a witness?
A. Someone who gives their opinion
B. Someone who tells what they’ve seen or heard
C. Someone who makes up random stuff
D. Your mom 😉
Answer: WITNESSES, B