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3 Things We Can Learn from Apple about Evangelism

I recently watched Ikea’s promotional video for their latest revolutionary “bookbook”. Ikea was promoting their latest catalogue Apple-style—with the makings of a typical Apple product launch campaign, complete with the presenter decked in a black turtleneck shirt, a series of interviews with enthusiastic key Apple personnel as well as a hands-on demonstration of the “bookbook”.

As Christians going out there to preach the Word, we too can pick up a few tips from Apple.

Simplicity
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 ESV).

That’s it. That’s the gospel.

Apple has often designed products known for their simplicity and intuitive usage—one button, instinctive gesturing, no frills. According to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, the gospel message is also quite simple; it is essentially about Christ’s death and resurrection. There’s no need to get into endless debates over apologetics, or delving too much into the differences of different religions to the point of argumentation, nor examining too many theological concepts that would just leave a non-believer more confused about life than he was before wanting to find out more. (Disclaimer: There are times apologetics is needed and we need to dive into theology, but we need to discern when it actually spirals to become unconstructive debate.)

Meet Needs
Apple campaigners often show how multi-faceted their products can be, being able to perform typical phone functions on top of surfing the net, reading the news, playing games, etc. When Jesus was at the well with the Samaritan woman who wanted to draw water, He met her at the point of her need—sharing with her about living water—before proceeding to tell her everything she ever did and that He was the Messiah (John 4). Before Jesus taught the crowd, He fed the multitudes with five loaves and two fishes, first meeting physical needs and then leading them to the One who will meet all needs (Matthew 14:13-21).

Some of our friends might have to go through rough patches in their lives before they are willing to find out more about God. It is hence important that we be sensitive to their needs, and perhaps even meet those needs first. Let’s not treat outreach as an end in itself, but as a process of building relationships and sharing our lives.

Hands On
You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:13-16)

Apple campaigns would have been meaningless without live demonstrations. In the same way, we must demonstrate our talk by our walk. Our lives need to be consistent with the gospel we preach. When we walk the talk, our talk becomes credible to people.

Ultimately, the gospel is meant to be shared. It is like eating the best plate of chicken rice, and wanting your friends and loved ones to also have a taste of it. You’ve experienced a joy, and this is the joy you want others to partake in.

This is the Gospel, and “this changes everything.”

Some helpful resources:
The Best of Josh Mcdowell: A Ready Defense
How Can I Break the Silence?
How Can I Share My Faith Without an Argument?
Truth with Love: Sharing the Story of Jesus

I Met Jesus through A Flyer

Written By Crystal Tang, Singapore 

It all started with a ring on my doorbell some ten years back by a tall, nice looking girl. Having been instructed never to open the door to strangers when I am alone at home, I was apprehensive at first. Usually, I would ignore anybody at the door but that afternoon was different. As I peered through the peephole on my teak-colored door, curiosity led me to turn the door knob.

“Hello!” the girl said with a bright and cheery voice. “I am from the church just opposite your home…”

Church! Feelings of excitement surged through me but I stopped short of engaging in a deeper conversation with her because of my shyness. I have always been intrigued by the concept of church, having attended a mission school in Primary 1 and 2 and captivated by the many songs sung during chapel. Unlike many of my classmates, my family does not attend church.

After taking the flyer she handed me, I closed the door and retreated back into my room. For the rest of the day, I paced to and fro, stealing glances at the flyer that laid beside my pile of holiday homework. The girl had told me to call her that night if I was keen to join their Sunday service the following day. There was even a group for youth to study together after service. What a plus point!

That night, I mustered up courage and told my mother about my encounter with the girl that afternoon. Being a concerned parent, she began her tirade on why I should not attend a time-wasting religious organization. But just before she could officially reject me, I blurted out: “Mum, you know, it would be nice to study with a group of friends! It is my first year in secondary school and I will need lots and lots of help! Maybe God can help too!” Awkward silence filled the house as my heart pounded heavily, waiting for a response. Eventually, I retreated back into my room and did everything I could that night to make mum smile. That proved sufficient. At the end of the day, she gave me the response I had been waiting for— a resigned “okay”.

Immediately, I picked up the phone and called the girl to inform her that I could join them the next day for service. She was elated and prayed for me before ending the call. Two weeks later, I invited Christ into my life.

I am reminded of God’s grace shown to me over the past decade. Indeed, my life can only be a testimony of God’s grace and mercy. Protection, providence, and healing comes from His mighty hands; His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22). I am thankful for the life He has given me and more importantly, for saving my wretched and lost soul. I’m thankful that I did not reject Jesus’s invitation when He came knocking at my heart those ten years ago.

Taking A Leap of Faith in Ecuador

THEME: OUTREACH
Written by Betty Tai, Hong Kong

Many say, “Life is a journey with God.”

But my friend described it as “an adventure” because it is full of ups and downs and it surprises you with many unexpected turns. Indeed, over the past year, the Lord has guided me onto an unexpected route as I took a leap of faith.

It started last year when I was really lost in my city job in London, doubting where I should go, what I should develop, and what I should do with my life. The one thing I was sure of was that I wanted to make the most of my days as a youth count for the Lord. After talking to my mentors at church, I started searching for opportunities to serve in South America. The Latino culture has always fascinated me, and I know a little Spanish. Soon the Lord opened doors for me. Through Latin Link, I was placed in Ecuador, a country which I had very little knowledge about.

I have always said I would never become a teacher (because my mum is a teacher). Interestingly, my job in Ecuador was to go to primary schools to teach Values and English with the Scripture Union of Ecuador. At the start, I had to work hard on polishing up my Spanish and even scripting my class notes to make sure I said the right things. The more I taught, the more I realized there was a special affinity between the students and me. This is a gift that God showed me only after I started serving.

I also saw how my gift of listening continued to help me in Ecuador. It did not take long for the students to start trusting me. Eventually, they came up to me during recess or after school to tell me about their lives—the good and the bad things. This allowed me to share the gospel with them on a personal level and to pray for them. These are important since the Ecuadorian government forbids religion to be openly spoken about in classes.

Betty Tai 2

Another gift, which I was unaware of before, is the fact that I am Chinese. Ecuatorians in general have little knowledge about the Chinese culture, and hence, discrimination exists. It was a challenge, but also a privilege for me, to teach in their local schools in their local language as a Chinese. The discriminations I encountered helped enrich my classes as I taught the students about self-worth.

But it was not a bed of roses from the start. The beginning of this mission trip was the most difficult, since I was on completely foreign ground with nothing to fall back on. During this time, God showed me how I cannot base my self-worth on my job, degree, or possessions, but in God and God alone. I have also experienced how He is a caring father, providing for my “big” needs, such as funding, and also the “tiniest” needs (like a sisterly hug on a lonely depressed day).

This adventure so far has been like nothing I’ve imagined before. Please pray for me as I return to Ecuador for another year! 🙂

This writer blogs at: http://honeymilkjoy.wordpress.com/ 

3 Things God Taught Me on My Recent Mission Trip

Written By Phoebe Cheong, Singapore

I went, expecting to give to others, but ended up receiving so much more. These are the three things (out of many others) that God taught me through my recent mission trip:

1. Humility.

I knew that I wouldn’t be able to speak the language as proficiently as the rest of my teammates but thought to myself, What’s the worst that could happen? As it turned out, I was forced to retract my words when I found myself freaking out on the first day after realizing we were supposed to give a short briefing in the language I hadn’t spoken for about … seven years! As the days went by, I was brought to a fuller realization of how terribly inadequate I was—even engaging in “casual” conversation was almost like asking for my life. As I stood there, all the confidence I had in what I could do melted down into a puddle of nothingness. I came to an appropriate conclusion: I am nothing.

Humility isn’t one of the popular ideas of today. In fact, most people see humility as a sign of weakness. If you’re not confident in yourself, then how is anyone else going to be confident in you? But that isn’t what God’s idea of humility is. James 4:6 reminds us that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Coming face to face with my weaknesses would not be one of the experiences I would frame up and write an article about (ironically), but I saw that God was teaching me a difficult lesson and learnt to take it from the hands of my loving Father. God can, if He pleases, choose to use a nobody like me.

2. Appreciate difference.

The realization of my inadequacy was a big factor in helping me notice that, hey, my teammates are really great people! The differences that initially made our working styles and personalities clash were the same differences that filled in the gaps and made up for another’s inadequacies. One friend could speak very eloquently, another could quickly and effectively think on her feet, and another would cover all the minute details that others missed out. While thinking about this, 1 Corinthians 12:4 flashed into my mind: “As it is, there are many parts, but one body.” How true and wonderful it is that God has created us, diverse and different as we may be, to have unity through Him in His body and complementing one another!

3. Stop and look!

As with most mission trips, we slept little and spent most waking hours thinking about or preparing for something that we had to do. But, due to my inability to speak the language, I was forced to watch and observe. What I saw startled me. God’s hand was so clearly visible in the lives of the people around—from a local leader who had a new and growing desire to study the Bible to a second generation Christian girl who was slowly becoming interested in the things of God.

As I watched, I was amazed at God’s deep and immense interest in the lives of every single individual. At this point, I came to realize that, if this God is my Father and this is His heart, then I as His child should be like Him, concerned about others and their relationship with God.

So I asked myself, and now throw the question to you as well: Have you talked to someone about Jesus lately?

Photo credit: chasingtheflow / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA