5/1/12 Ann, about 50
Today's steady rains forced me to take my witnessing efforts indoors, so I walked into a busy Starbucks looking to start a conversation. Almost every person there had their nose in a computer, with a few others heavily engaged in conversation. If I was looking for an opportunity to present itself to me "naturally", I would be disappointed. But going into all the world means taking the initiative to reach out to others, not waiting for them to reach out to us, so I walked up to a woman who was scrolling through her cell phone and said "Excuse me, I realize you're busy but I wonder if I could run a few questions by you." "Well, I am waiting to meet a friend, but I guess I have a little time. Besides, I'll talk to anyone from Long Island" she said, referring to the hat I was wearing which I got from my sister-in-law. As it turns out, the woman - Ann - was born in the same town, and it was nice to have something in common to break the ice. I went from there to ask about her beliefs. Ann grew up Catholic but doesn't like the Catholic stance on abortion, homosexuality and women clergy. "I find them very intolerant, so now I prefer Buddhism instead" she said. She told me more about her beliefs, a mixture of spiritual sounding personal preferences taken mostly from eastern religions, including reincarnation to a higher or lower state of existence depending on how she lives in this life. She seemed a little shocked when I reminded her that based on this belief she still believes in a judgment day of sorts. Her friend arrived and we couldn't talk any longer, but it was important to help her apply some logic to her own beliefs, and I left her a booklet that compares various religions to biblical Christianity.
Witnessing conversations like this don't often happen "naturally"; they usually require us to take the initiative. Since as Christians the Holy Spirit lives within us, these Spirit-led opportunities can and should come from within us too! Just like Paul as he reasoned "in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there" (Acts 17:17) I believe it is both spiritual and biblical to take the initiative when it comes to helping people like Ann begin to understand biblical truths.