Written By Yeo Jia En, Singapore
Everyone has their story of what it’s like to share Jesus with their friends or family members. Some stories have a happy ending, where the person eventually comes to know and love Jesus. Some don’t have such a happy ending, where the person passes away before accepting Jesus into his or her life.
My story begins on an online forum. (I sometimes joke with my close friends that this is where my “ministry” is, since I spend a lot of time online and it’s where I end up meeting new friends, many of whom are not Christian.)
That was where I first met Carrie*. We played a couple of games together and soon discovered that we enjoyed each other’s company and had a similar interest in writing. It wasn’t long before we were chatting on Skype every day, finding out more about each other’s life.
I don’t remember when I first mentioned Jesus to her, but Jesus became a recurring topic in our conversations. At one point, however, Carrie said that while she found the idea of Jesus and Christianity interesting, she couldn’t bring herself to believe in God when there was a “simpler explanation” for everything.
But that didn’t stop us from continuing our discussions, debates, and even arguments about the Christian belief and principles. We discussed topics such as the authenticity of the Bible, the role of a woman in the church, and the LGBT lifestyle. Sometimes, when emotions got heated up, we ended up arguing over our differing beliefs. There were even a number of times when we didn’t talk to each other for weeks because we couldn’t agree about some aspect of theology. But we always made up, and I kept trying my best to share the gospel with her.
But days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and months into years, and I began to question why Carrie wasn’t coming to Christ. What was I doing wrong? Had I not shared the gospel with her enough? Had I said something biblically incorrect in one of our discussions? Was I not being a good enough friend or testimony?
As I prayed and shared my frustration with my closest Christian friends, the answer struck me. I had become so absorbed with the idea of bringing my friend to Christ that I had forgotten that God is the one who calls His people to Himself. While we can be the instruments for His work, it is He who opens the hearts of unbelievers so that they are willing to receive Him. As Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:6–7, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow.”
This has changed the way I look at witnessing and has also been a huge comfort to me. While I believe I am called to share the gospel with my friends so that they can come to know Jesus and have eternal life, the Bible doesn’t focus on how good or effective my efforts are. I now understand that God changes hearts, not me. Ultimately, while I can share my experiences and the Good News with someone like Carrie, it is God who will open her heart and bring her to Him; I don’t have to worry about the outcome.
At the same time, the Bible makes it clear that we have a role to play in sharing the gospel with others. Romans 10:14–15 says: “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’”
I wish I could say that this is a finished story, but I can’t. It has been six years since I first met Carrie, and she has yet to accept Christ—although the topic still comes up in our daily chats. We have, however, taken some small steps forward, and I’m very thankful that she is still keen to know about Christ. I don’t know if this story will have a happy ending, but ultimately, I know that’s not up to me to decide. It is God who works through me, and it is God who will change her heart.
In the meantime, I’ll write a little more of this story every day, in the hopes that one day it will reach a “happily ever after” conclusion.
*Name changed to protect confidentiality