I love Peter's experience of walking on the roaring sea with Jesus. But the thing is, Peter's story is often misunderstood. Do you have a step you need to take?
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I remember the first time I was invited to join the evangelism team at our city bus stop. I had just completed a class all about how to share my faith, but…ummm…no. I did not feel God calling me to the bus stop.
It was too public…
and in all honestly, I was flat out too unwilling.
I’m not the best at conversations, especially verbal disagreements or rough-edged questions. So, I avoid these situations. Up until recently, I did great until God messed everything up.
Just last summer my boys boarded a city bus during a “Touch-A-Truck” event. It’s basically an open invitation for kids to climb through vehicles they may see from afar, but rarely get to experience up close. After the garbage truck, the police car, the SWAT vehicle and the dump truck, my boys rushed with delight onto the city bus. Sure, it looked like fun when it sat here stopped, inviting giggles from happy kids allowed to move around freely. Those of us who grew-up riding the bus to school know that isn’t the real picture (you can watch a video of me sharing my school bus memories below!). Nevertheless, my boys asked if they could go for a ride on the bus sometime. I verbally agreed but I knew that wasn’t going to happen on my watch anytime soon.
Once the boys returned to school in the Fall, the new classes at our church returned as well. A new evangelism class was being offered and I felt the quiet nudge from God to simply attend. I agreed, but I wasn’t doing anything “crazy.” The first evening, experiences were shared that touched my heart. I knew the men leading the class. Each one had taken the time to play with my boys and get to know our family. They possessed an empathy for people that I could relate to in a real way.
You see, when I am out in public, I find myself watching people. I catch myself wondering if the young mother I’m observing knows that Jesus sees her and knows every inch of energy she has spent loving on her children. I see a young man sitting on a bench all alone and I wonder if he feels defeated and lost. What could God say to Him? I see a police officer directing traffic. I wonder what his hours are like and the last time his family has seen him. I wonder if he hears God whisper his name above all the car engines, hand gestures and car honks. Seriously. This is my rushing mind everywhere I go.
The three men that were teaching the class that evening literally followed the track of my thoughts and walked me through conversations that they had with people the Holy Spirit put in their path. These little thoughts that rush through my head are not just a personality flaw or an excuse for A.D.D. No. This is the Holy Spirit at work. But could I trust Him? Should I trust Him?
A few days later, I found myself at the bus stop with three quarters clinging around in my pocket.
“God,” I said, “I have no clue what I’m doing here.”
I felt Him saying, “Oh Bethany, but I do.”
So, I responded, “I’m here but I’m not getting on a bus. I’m just going to watch people scurry around the bus stop.”
Hint for the day: Never try to tell God what you are going to do. It simply just wastes time. I should have learned this by now. Yet, here I was, and I picture God just smiling.
Every Tuesday a group of amazing friends gather to pass out candy, water and earnest hope to those at the bus stop. Some gladly accept the treats and even engage in conversation. Others pass by and seem to barely notice. But those who stop seem to leave the conversation with a smile. It’s not uncommon to hear my friends call out names to greeting riders because they now have a friendship. They share memories together because this group has been present every single Tuesday for years.
They love on everyone.
God shows off.
As I was soaking all of this in, I was invited onto a bus. The quarters in my pocket were there for a purpose. I was assured the route would indeed get me back to this same location. With fear, I boarded the bus and dropped my change in the slot.
As I walked down the aisle to find a seat, I silently told God, “Okay, I’m on the bus but I’m not talking to anyone unless they talk to me first.”
Can you see God laughing about now? Yea, me too.
No sooner had my rear end hit the seat had a young woman around my age introduce herself to me. I smiled. I shared my name and asked her if she was a frequent bus rider. We found out that we were both learning the route and thought that was a bit humorous. After adequate small talk, she looked me right in the eyes and told me that her husband was struggling with cerebral-palsy and although he was a high-functioning person, he struggled for belonging. He functioned like most everyone else, yet he looked “disabled.” He always felt misunderstood.
As she shared, my heart broke as I could relate to exactly what her husband was feeling. She literally described the internal battle I have fought for years having various physical challenges yet functioning like most everyone else.
“Okay God.” I thought, “You win. I get it. I understand why You brought me here.”
I shared with my new friend a bit about my story. She shared more of hers and she even had a son getting ready for a birthday that weekend. We talked about those fun and not so fun mom moments. We shared laughs, ideas and even a few tears. She mentioned that although she used to go to church that it was hard with her husband. I choked-up. I shared about our church, a place where I have felt welcomed, loved and accepted for years and I invited her to attend. We hugged briefly as she left and my heart just exploded.
That was evangelism, but it felt more like a God appointment.
I hesitantly followed.
God used me.
God was glorified.
Pretty easy yet incredibly amazing stuff!
I got off the bus smiling ear to ear – so much so I literally could not stop talking to everyone I encountered. It was better than coffee!
Since that day, I’ve made most of the Tuesday bus stop gatherings. I’ve been on two different routes and my current bus has a very wide circulation of backgrounds and beliefs. Some days I find myself in the most amazing conversations. Other days can be quiet or filled with subjective questions. But I’ve learned that the one-time conversations rarely change lives. It’s the continual presence that makes people realize there is more going on here than just small talk.
God gets me to the bus stop in chilly weather.
God gets me out of bed at 4:15am in the morning to…
…get my walk in with the dog,
…get the kids up for school
…and get myself out the door before 7am!
Seriously – that isn’t me (those who know me definitely know that’s the truth!).
A few nuggets I’ve learned about sharing my faith in my everyday:
A few verses that have greatly encouraged me these past few months:
Bethany, since I chose you to be part of the holy people I love, you must clothe yourself with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for others faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, I, The Lord, forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all Bethany, clothe yourself with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Me rule in your heart. For as a member of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. (Colossians 3:12-15 NLT)
Bethany, work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for Me rather than for others. Remember, I will give you an inheritance as your reward, and I AM the Master you are serving. (Colossians 3:23, 24 NLT)
Now Bethany, it is I who makes you stand firm in Christ. I anointed you, set My seal of ownership on you, and put My Spirit in your heart as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21, 22 NIVUK)
I’ll be at the bus stop on Tuesday. You coming? Your “bus stop” is all around you. Let the Spirit lead!
Do you have an evangelism story? I’d love to hear more in the comments below!
Hello and welcome to Step Out And Thrive Ministries! My name is Bethany Boring and I am proud to be called a child of God before any other title or role. I am a mom to 3 amazing boys. I enjoy writing for this Step Out And Thrive community and walking with you as we venture through the ups and downs of life together. I am an ICF trained Certified Professional Christian Life Coach (Christian Coach Institute Graduate), Motivational and Inspirational Speaker, mentor, Certified Human Behavioral Consultant (DISC Personality) and an author. As always - dare to do more than just survive, step out and thrive!