The gentleman was a little surprised as I smiled and greeted him as we crossed paths through a revolving door at a major convention hotel. So surprised in fact, that he immediately turned around and followed me back into the lobby of the hotel and asked, “Do I know you? Have we met before?”
My response to the man’s question was, “I don’t think so, but we may have a mutual friend.” “Who would that be?” he asked. The Lord, Jesus Christ, I said, do you know Him? Well, it turned out that he knew about Him, but had never become a follower of Jesus.
Life Changing Spiritual Encounters
Those brief introductory comments opened the door for me to share the gospel and have prayer with the man. Sometimes, all it takes is a smile, a greeting or a friendly gesture to open the way for life changing spiritual encounters. Acts of kindness can do wonders. In many places in the world it is actually counter cultural to show kindness. It seems to be in short supply in contemporary society everywhere.
I was recently interviewed on a news program and was asked the question, “What is the best way to engage people in conversations that can lead to sharing the gospel?” Of course, there are hundreds of ways, because the Holy Spirit is unlimited and creative in how He can lead us when we are available and responsive. Showing kindness is always a good place to start.
Impact of Prayer-Care-Share Initiatives
Cultivating a prayer-care-share lifestyle is a very effective and practical method that has been very fruitful for many. Being in a spirit of prayer and watching for ways to demonstrate acts of kindness is a simple thing that everyone can do. My wife and I were recently walking through a mall and greeted a shop keeper. We found common ground for a conversation with the lady who migrated to the USA from a South Asian country. She shared how she had recently had a dream about Jesus. Well, that connection has resulted in some ongoing conversations and ministry at that shop.
With our work in Living Water International we have a focus on integral mission. That is, seeking to have a balance between word and deed, demonstration and proclamation. In many cases, the ways we treat people can be more important than what we tell them, although telling is also important.
Divine Appointments – Anytime, Anywhere
I was involved in an auto accident a few years ago. A lady named Gloria ran into the back of my car on the freeway. As we were waiting for the police to arrive, I asked Gloria if she had been thinking more about the Lord lately. She said it was interesting that I would ask, because she had just begun reading her Bible a couple of weeks earlier. The Lord had obviously prepared her heart. We had prayer together and she confessed her faith in Christ. Gloria immediately had the opportunity of sharing her faith with a security guard and some police officers.
Often when we are in difficult situations or dealing with difficult people, and show kindness instead of anger or frustration, it can open a door to demonstrate the love of Jesus and tell about Him. Our actions and reactions sometimes speak louder than words. It is good to know that Jesus can still bring calmness during our storms (difficulties, problems and crisis situations) of life. It can cause others to want to know what makes the difference in our lives.
The Law of Averages
Genuine kindness can open the way to life changing conversations and relationships. Paying a compliment, expressing appreciation, or offering to pray for someone are all ways of showing kindness. Simple things like making eye contact, smiling and greeting people may be all it takes to make a connection that results in life changing encounters. It has been my experience, when I have connected with people in these ways, that amazing things can happen. On average about 2 or 3 people out of 10 people will be open to engage in spiritual conversations, and some will be ready to respond to the gospel. When I was in sales years ago, I learned that the law of averages works in many different areas of life.
It is exciting and gratifying to experience those divine appointments, and realize we can enter into the redemptive activities of the Holy Spirit. While in many cases we can sow the seed of the Word of God, sometimes water and occasionally reap a harvest, but it is God who gives the increase. However, it’s not enough to know these trues, we need to act on them, take initiative, not just wait for something to happen. Keep in mind also that when we encounter one person, it can open up ministry with a whole new relational network, of families, neighbors, co-workers and friends.
One of the important lessons we point out in our Orality Training is how Jesus is a cross-cultural and counter-cultural person. That should keep us mindful of how we are to relate to people and show kindness to everyone, regardless of their race, ethnic or socio-economic differences. Another lesson is how one person’s encounter with the Living Christ can result in an entire family, community, or even a nation being impacted and transformed.
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].