Friday, November 1, 2013

Open Your Own Doors

I was one frustrated missionary! I would pray and pray and make lots of contacts. I knew people on the street and many shop keepers. I was friendly and smiling, and the people would talk to me—about the weather, my kids, and superficial things. Day after day, I went by and chatted and smiled, praying for an opportunity to share the gospel. Truly, if there was an open door, I didn’t see it. I tried to steer conversations in the right direction, but they weren’t going there.

We serve in the Basque region of Spain. It is a gorgeous part of Europe with a culture just about as old as the hills around us. The people are friendly, helpful, and kind. But they have no interest whatsoever in God. There are a few exceptions, but overall, the people would call themselves “atheists.”

I was talking to a friend in Madrid one afternoon, and she said, “They always tell you about the millions who are waiting for someone to tell them the gospel. They don’t tell you about the millions who couldn’t care less.”

How do you reach them?

As I was frustrated and praying and in constant contact with the same friends, I decided that maybe I could open a few doors for a witness myself. I only needed to look for a different kind of opportunity.

One such is Christmas. Virtually everyone here is from a Roman Catholic background. Most people know that Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus—though I have asked some children, and they had no clue. Most people celebrate Christmas with huge meals on Christmas Eve and the extended family together. I decided I could give each of my friends a Christmas card with a letter in it about the warmth of Christmas, telling them why I love Christmas: the message of Christ coming to earth to save us from our sins.

I wrote the letter and got the cards all ready, and then I set out on my quest to give them to everyone I knew in town. All my friends received them gladly. I got hugs and kisses and even a couple of calendars from those who thought they needed to pay me back.

The next time I went to town, some of the people were like igloos in the Arctic. Cold. Scared to death. Others were okay with me. I continued to smile, frequent the same shops, and even the igloos melted a little. I didn’t confront or push again—until the next Christmas.

One of the places I wanted to leave my letters was a little tobacco shop on the backside of town. (Don’t get the wrong idea; it’s a government shop and also sells postage stamps.) I went by twice, and both times, the shop was full to overflowing out the door. (It sells lottery tickets, too.) So I didn’t get my letter delivered to that little store. I had wanted to make face-to-face contact.

Several weeks after the Christmas holidays, I was in the tobacco shop, and the daughter waited on me. She looked very sad, so I asked her if she was okay. She answered “no.” So I asked why, and she said, “Don’t you know?” I asked her if I had offended her in any way, and she said, “No. My brother died.” Theirs is a family business, and I knew her brother. He was a very courteous, handsome young man in his twenties. I asked her what had happened. He had been mountain climbing, had hit a patch of ice, and had fallen. A couple of weeks later, he died.

It was a gut punch. This was one of the only places where I had known the people and hadn’t gotten my letter delivered. And now, one of them had died, surely without the Lord. I told her how sorry I was. A few days later, I took New Testaments for this young woman and her mother, along with a letter containing my memories of the young man, salvation, and my sincere prayers for them. I opened my own door . . . but it was too late for one.

People we know are dying. They are going out into eternity. They might be only twenty-four, like my young friend. Or they might be eighty. We are responsible to get the gospel to them, somehow, some way. If they won’t talk to us, we must try to get them to read a tract. If they won’t listen, perhaps they will read. If they can’t read, maybe they will listen.

Here are some ideas for opening your own doors:
  • Sports and exercise—coaching sports teams, basketball tournament, aerobics classes
  • Offering free crafts, art, or a sewing class with devotions
  • Teaching English, with a Bible lesson each time
  • Giving music lessons
  • Neighborhood children’s Bible clubs (with mothers invited, always with parental approval)
  • Cooking/baking classes
  • You take a class.
  • Writing—blogging, ladies’ magazine with testimonies included, social media posts that include Scripture for your unsaved friends, cards and letters at Christmas or other holidays, an online magazine for women that contains salvation testimonies from church ladies in your country 

Surely, you’ve already thought of another one.

Of course, nothing opens doors more than friendship. Be a friend. Let friendship grow. Try to steer the conversation to spiritual things. If they won’t open up to spiritual things, they will surely read a personal letter or a tract you give to them.

Pray. Pray that God will open doors and help you think of innovative ways to reach people where you are. I know He will bless!

I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door,
and no man can shut it:
for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word,
and hast not denied my name (Revelation 3:8).


Jessica Curtis said...

My heart is heavy with you and I know I am guilty too. Sharing this.

Jane Coley said...

Thank you for the encouragement.

Patricia Shannon Anderson said...

In reading this, it occurred to me that one of the reasons it's so difficult to reach these folks has to do with the underlying religiosity of Catholicism, a religious cult that has fought against the Truth from the beginning. Most folks don't realize this, thinking them just another religion but if you look deeper, you'll discover idolatry at its core [just the tip of the iceberg], and we know who is at the helm. They, the catholics, worship the so-called saints, pray to them, carry amulets with the likeness of saints on them for 'good luck and protection', worship Mary, pray to her and even believe she is a god in her own right and without sin, confess to the priest and are not encouraged to read the Word of God on their own at all. The catholic religion was leading the way to preventing the Bible from being translated into any other language than its original Latin, which kept the masses in the dark. Martin Luther, John Wycliffe, Jon Hus, are some that were burned at the stake and otherwise martyred for their efforts to get the Bible out of the hands of the Catholics and bring the Truth of Christ and His Salvation to the world. It's no wonder there are so many "atheists" over there. I'm positive the Lord will open the way to sharing the gospel [probably just privately one on one] using His Word, for it is promised that it will not return void and will accomplish that to which it was sent. When the doors are tightly held shut like they are there, intense prayer and fasting, daily suiting up with the whole armor of God, holding tight to the promises and just befriending one at a time with your own 'open door policy' can help. Forgive me for being so wordy but I felt led to share this.