Written By Aryanto Wijaya, Indonesia, originally in Bahasa Indonesia
Have you ever been afraid of sharing your faith with others? I have.
When I was in fourth grade, my family and I were the only Christians in our neighborhood. One day, when I was cycling past a mosque, some children my age came up to me, blocked my path, and tried to force me off my bicycle. When I didn’t get off, they started kicking my bike and tried forcing me to say verses from the Koran. They also accused me of being an infidel—because I was Chinese and a Christian.
I had no idea how to respond. Thankfully, an adult showed up and dispersed the children.
Since then, I have always attributed my fear of sharing my faith to this incident. But after giving it more thought recently, I realized there were three underlying reasons that stopped me from sharing my Christian faith.
1. I was afraid of offending people from different religions
Where I live, Christians are a minority, so sharing my faith can be a sensitive thing. On one occasion, my friends gathered for a prayer meeting at my home. Though we did not play any music or make loud noises, a neighbor reported us, fearing that our house might become a church. Two men then came to my house and told us, “Christian activities are not allowed in a Muslim neighborhood.”
Though that incident fazed me a little, God quickly provided me other opportunities to share my faith. One time, I was staying at an elderly woman’s house. On one of the mornings as I was getting ready for church, she asked me, “Hey, where are you going so early in the morning?”
I told her honestly that I was going to church. To my surprise, she expressed curiosity about church, as well as about my faith. It turns out that she had never met a Christian before! I ended up sharing with her a little about God and what going to church was like.
Whether or not we realize it, people around us are watching our actions daily. The way we live could be the very thing that sparks their interest in our lives and in Jesus Himself. It’s exactly as Jesus told us, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).
2. I was afraid my friends would think poorly of me
Whenever I prepared for church each Sunday, my roommates would tease me, “What for go to church in the morning? It’s better to sleep in . . .” In their opinion, the best way to spend Sunday morning was to sleep in, since our weekdays were always packed with so many different activities.
I admit that peer pressure sometimes got the better of me. When a friend asked me to go jogging with him one Sunday morning, I gave in—and attended church in the afternoon instead. I wanted to be accepted by my peers; and I wanted to be seen as a faithful friend.
I also struggled with what my friends thought of Christianity. Some of them felt Christianity was “complicated” since there seemed to be so many rules to follow: tithing, going to Church, Bible reading, etc. To avoid being seen that way, I hid my faith from my friends.
But God reminded me through my quiet time that I should be focused on God’s view of me, and not that of my peers. I am precious and honored, and God loves me (Isaiah 43:4). Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross for me. Therefore, I should give everything―my money, energy, and thoughts―to show my gratitude to the loving God who has saved my life.
So now when my friends ask about it, I tell them I don’t mind going to church or tithing or serving, because this is an expression of my gratitude to God.
3. I was afraid I couldn’t answer questions about Christianity
Some people have told me that Christianity does not make sense. For example, they ask, how can God have a son? I found myself getting stumped by some of the questions and sometimes wondered if this was because I still had doubts myself. As a result, I didn’t make my faith known to my friends so they wouldn’t ask me about it.
But during church one day, God spoke through the preacher to remind me that I shouldn’t be so preoccupied with whether I can answer my friends’ questions. Instead, I should pray for them regularly, that they may experience the peace of God, which transcends all understanding (Philippians 4:7).
Sometimes, when we are unable to articulate our faith through words, we can do so through our actions. I once had a female classmate in college who did not have any friends. Nobody wanted to be in the same group as her, so she was lonely all the time. I decided to invite her to join my group for one of the class projects.
She was surprised and asked me, “Why do you want to be my friend?” I replied, “God made each of us special. If you are specially made by God, why should I avoid you just because of some trivial reason?”
I don’t know whether if it was because of my actions or my words, but since then, she has joined a Christian community and has been growing in her faith.
Our faith is special. It is not just about us, or about building churches. Christianity is about a holy and loving God who cares for sinners.
Being a Christian is a gift we need to be thankful for. I now understand that I am Jesus’ disciple, and I no longer worry about people labeling me as a “Christian”. I am no longer afraid of sharing my faith. Instead of keeping it to myself, I want to share my story about Jesus.
Even though people might mock or oppress us when we share our faith, like my experience in fourth grade, I pray that these words of Jesus may strengthen us as we follow Him in the midst of our suffering: “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:10-12)