“Girls, I am not good at evangelizing.” I admitted this during girls night on Tuesday and was relieved when their response was a chuckle and a “Yeah, I am not either.” We admitted we knew people who were great at it, with that obvious God-given gift of approaching the unapproachable and receiving all the right words at the right time. Those people were made for those moments, you see. However, I have discovered that this is not my gifting.
I came to this strange realization as I sat on an airplane heading back to Illinois from Florida. I found myself sitting next to a younger man who was heading from Florida to India. Upon conversing, he stated that he is in fact Hindu. I slowly backed away from the conversation for a minute or two, wondering if this was the welcome mat to the doorway in which I will talk to this guy about Christ. After all, I have heard that airplanes are the perfect place to make the introduction of, “God, so-and-so; so-and-so, God.” but actually partaking in such a situation… well, now that is a different field for me. I opened the door.
After those awkward minutes passed, I finally asked, “So, as a Hindu, what is it that you believe in?” Nonchalantly, he explained that he believed in “a lot of gods”. We went into a chain of question and answers, when it came down to the recognition that he isn’t even a practicing Hindu, it is just a religion that he was inevitably born into. But there was also one statement he said repeatedly:
“I don’t understand the point of prayer. God doesn’t care; you’re just interrupting Him.”
I responded in stating that prayer is our communication with God and we never interrupt Him; He wants to hear us and talk to us (I know, very convincing to the logical man). He rolled his eyes a time or two, but kept asking questions. At this point, I had taken my Bible out and I was flipping, flapping, scrambling through the whole Bible during the conversation, and I COULD NOT FIND ANYTHING. Each time he was prepping another question or in the middle of one, I would be head-praying for God to just give me something, any scripture for this guy. Nothing. Not once.
I opened and closed my Bible innumerable times before finally coming to the understanding that I was just supposed to talk to this guy and be real with him. It unraveled later, after much analysis of ‘why couldn’t I just find one thing? I’ve read my Bible so much!’, that throwing scripture, no matter how packed with truth it is, was not going to be a stepping stone for this guy. He has never read the Bible, why should he care? He was questioning the character of God… not the truth of scripture. That typically comes later. Our hour-long conversation was calm and a little messy with my shaky explanations of Jesus and why He did what He did. Honestly, I don’t even think I brought up how you have to be saved to get into heaven. I told you, I’ve found that it is not my gifting.
We then went on to talk about numerous other sorts of things. He enjoys beer, as do I, so we got to discuss different types of beer we’ve tried – which probably helped my stuffy-Christian bubble, as he was taken back that I, being 22, do not go to clubs or do the nightlife thing – and we talked about his culture and how he has to eat any type of meat outside of his parents house.
This is the best part, though. When he asked what music I enjoy, the woman sitting on the other side of me (I was in the middle) whispered in my ear, “Tell him to listen to Jars of Clay.” I nearly freaked out.
There was another Christian sitting next to me this entire time. She saw me struggling. She knew it, too. I had to swallow everything inside of me that wanted to shake her and ask her why she didn’t talk with us. Sure, maybe approaching a situation like this would have been more of a tag team than a conversation, but she did not even acknowledge his presence. Instead, she went back to sleep. Which brought me to my other realization.
No matter how bad I am at evangelizing, no matter how uncomfortable it is, it does not take me off the roster of talking to people about God. That guy is a child of God and he does not even know it. There are people out there who are fantastic at it, because they have that gifting, but my gifting of faith does not change that I can still be used by God. My faith should push me even further into these moments, where I can undoubtedly and un-shakingly confess how God is faithful and will never stop pursuing the beautiful life that He created and molded with His bare hands.
By the grace of God, towards the end of the flight, he told me he would check out a church once back in America. He admitted that one of his closest friends is a Christian and he would attend with him. I had him pinky promise and he kept saying he really was going to do it.
To know that my awkward introduction of God was left clinging to a pinky promise of his agreement to check out a Christian church, left me to rejoice in the fact that God, even though He doesn’t have to, is really good at cleaning up after people.
I have hoped that His clean up was in the shape of this guy getting stuck next to another Christian on his connecting flights to India.
By the way, his name is Alex.