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Natural conversations vs. ‘witnessing’

I was flying to McAllen, TX for Robert Cantu’s funeral. A few hours earlier, upon landing in Atlanta from Bucharest, I’d learned that the funeral was scheduled for the following day. I knew I needed to be there, so I told Talia, “Take the car home; I’ll stay at the airport and buy a ticket.” Heck…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
I was flying to McAllen, TX for Robert Cantu’s funeral. A few hours earlier, upon landing in Atlanta from Bucharest, I’d learned that the funeral was scheduled for the following day. I knew I needed to be there, so I told Talia, “Take the car home; I’ll stay at the airport and buy a ticket.” Heck, my bag was already packed (albeit with dirty clothes from the last 11 days of traveling). I felt gross and tired, but I loved Robert, so I got on the next plane.
Generally, I don’t like to talk to people on planes. I like to disappear behind a book or magazine and not say anything. But every now and then, these conversations happen. Seated next to me was Kevin, a soldier dressed in fatigues.
“Where are you headed?”
“Going home for a week before shipping out to Iraq again.”
“What will you do there?”
“I’m a planner. I used to kick doors down and search for enemy combatants, but I got my masters in organizational psychology at Columbia and now I’m assigned to a three-star general to help organize our withdrawal from Iraq.”
“Do you have a family?”
“Yeah, I’m going to surprise my little girl. She doesn’t know I’m coming home.”
We talked about my work and our respective views of God. He wasn’t particularly religious, but I got the impression that he had a relationship with God. The conversation progressed naturally to touch on eternal things. I told him about the man-hike I’m going on this week in New Hampshire. We talked about how men need times away like that.
As we approached the Dallas airport, we talked about the tight connection he had there. I said I’d pray about it. He was grateful. We landed and he was off and running.
*        *          *        *         *        *         *        *        
Returning home yesterday on the 6 a.m. flight out of McAllen I sat next to Pedro, a restaurant manager. He was nervously fingering a small box. A flight attendant asked if she could see it. Inside was a beautiful diamond ring. Soon the other flight attendants asked to see it. Later one brought him some bottles of champagne to take with him.
“How are you going to ask her?” I queried.
“I don’t know yet. We’ve been dating for eight years.” He explained.
“Make it romantic. She’ll remember it and replay it in her mind for the rest of her life,” I advised.
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking and thinking about it.”
“I remember when I asked Karen to marry me – I was so nervous! It might help to write what you’re going to say down.”
“I want to do it early in our visit so we can enjoy our time together.”
We talked about the different ways that he could propose. I wrote down some romantic suggestions on the back of one of my cards and asked him to email me about how it went. He told me about her – she’s been a missionary and now is a life coach.
As we landed, I asked if I could pray for him and he said yes. I prayed a simple prayer for him to be able to express what was on his heart. Afterward he thanked me and shook my hand.
I don’t know what your concept of witnessing is like. I grew up with this notion that it involved tracts and stilted conversations. Over time, I’ve come to see that people everywhere need God to shine a little light on the complicated lives they lead. They don’t need a tract, they just need to know that God cares about them making their plane or expressing their heart to a girlfriend.
We don’t need a class in evangelism, we just need to make ourselves available to reflect a little of his light as we walk along life’s path.

Comments (11)

  • Yes yes yes!
    Personal evangelism is really all about the fruit of the Spirit, most especially these: love, patience, kindness.

    As our willing lives yield these fruits, the Lord’s Spirit feasts upon His harvesting of the earth and its people.

  • St. mark of the Cross

    Oh,so true… evangelism is something we are, not something we do. It is what comes out of us in our daily life, whether it be by words, actions, or thoughts. Where our treasure is there is our heart, and out of the abundance of our heart – the mouth speaks. So, as I see it and truly live it – Jesus comes out, but ever so natural. Jesus, because he is our life…is “spoken” of, just as we speak of the other things which make up our life. I don’t scream and pass out tracks when I talk about the cold front coming in tomorrow morning.. There is something supernatural about a believer just naturally letting Jesus be lifted up from their inner most being.

  • Wow I have been pondering over this for the past two days so maybe now is a good place to get some feedback.

    Two days ago I was sitting at Panera when I felt prompted by the Holy Spirit to notice an elderly woman outside disheveled and alone drinking a cup of coffee. Her electric scooter was parked at the curb and it was 92 degrees outside. I prayed for guidance and then closed my lap top and headed outside. She had laid her head on the table and had fallen asleep. He said “wake her”, so I did!

    What followed was a long conversation about life, illness, kids, coffee and then I felt the Lord prompt me to talk to her about dying. She opened up and shared with me that she is terminal and will die soon, we talked about her fear of dying, her mother’s peaceful death and how she keeps going for her grand kids.

    We said out goodbyes and I got in my car and was amazed at the fact that though I was sensitive to the Spirit and obedient I never once shared Christ with her.

    So here is what I ponder, is being Christ sometimes enough especially when first meeting someone or should we always leave a verbal mark that Christ was there?

    Much love,

    [email protected]

  • Kingdom Unity (Aug 09)

    That resonates with our hearts. Stacy teared up. She wants to know how you proposed. Dez is proud of how you stepped out, for loving people more than yourself. Matt has found street evangelism with tracts to be very cold and disengaged. You ministered into their lives and spoke life. It’s cool.

  • The greatest witness for Christ is to notice, listen, be civil, encourage and care.

    All are in short supply these days.

  • Amen, nothing more and nothing less. Love those who love you best and hold all others even closer for they need you more than all the rest.

  • What a prayer for all of us that we would be able to express what is on our heart….may we all be granted such a wonderful gift.

  • This blog was timely, as I just had a similar story! I was on a plane 2 days ago and quickly opened my book so I wouldn’t have to talk to the person next to me. She asked about what I was reading, noting the chapter title. It happened to be “The Case For Christ” so I showed her the cover and went back to reading, she went to sleep. About 10 minutes later, I realized the irony that I wanted to read about Christ, but not BE Christ to this person, so I prayed for a second chance. Toward the end of the flight, she woke up and I initiated a conversation with her. We talked about destinations, life, etc.- she is a believer, but her boyfriend is not, and I ended up giving her the book to read and share with him. She was excited. And I was thankful God gave me a second chance to share His love and follow the prompting of the Spirit to give her the book.

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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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