If you are anything like me, telling others about your hope in Jesus does not always feel “effortless” and “natural”. Even though I have moved to NYC to pursue missionary training among Unreached People Groups, I still need to regularly challenge myself to “live out loud” and speak freely and joyfully about the love of God I have experienced through Jesus Christ.
Breaking the ice
This is one of the reasons why I love when holidays come around each year. Holidays “break the ice”, so to speak. They provide us with easy opportunities to talk about spiritual things with our international neighbors. In November, nearly all of my Muslim friends here in NYC asked me questions like, “Did you go home to see your family on Thanksgiving?”, “Why do you celebrate Thanksgiving?”, “What did you eat on Thanksgiving?”, “Why is Thanksgiving special to you, as a follower of Jesus?”, “What kind of prayers do you say on Thanksgiving?”.
These questions arise naturally, simply because our international friends are curious. Curious people ask questions because they want to hear meaningful answers! The way we choose to answer questions like these can easily segue into spiritual conversations. In turn, we can ask our international friends questions like, “What are you thankful to God for?”, “Does your religion talk about giving thanks to God regularly?”, “Does your family observe any meaningful celebrations or feasts?”. Even if their answer does not launch the dialogue into a full-blown spiritual conversation and Gospel presentation, it still serves to strengthen your relationship by building trust and understanding. This leads to greater opportunities for openness and spiritual conversation.
Showing the Gospel
Holidays not only provide us with opportunities to “tell”, but they allow us to “show” as well. As I write this, Christmas is two weeks away. Christmas is all about giving. As followers of Jesus, our life and eternal destiny have been fully changed because of the gift of Jesus we have received from heaven. As we give gifts to our international friends, it is an easy and tangible way to show that we have been loved by God and that we want to share this love with others. As we drown out the silence with joyful songs, as we drive out the darkness with myriads of lights, as we invite the lonely into our homes to feast with us, we testify to the Light of the world and the love of God shown to humanity on the first Christmas.
So my challenge for you is to see the holidays not only as a means of focusing your own heart on God, but also as an opportunity to show and tell your international neighbors about all that God has done for you in Jesus Christ.