A few months ago, I saw witnessing as an obligation. Yes, we Christians are called to share the Gospel, but fear would taint the excitement. The fear of rejection and the fear of saying the wrong thing was something that I always carried in the back of my mind. There should be joy by just knowing that I get to spread the love of Jesus, but that wasn’t what I felt before. This week started of differently though as I walked with the Christian Club leaders at Downey High School to witness to their peers. I decided to trust God and allowed Him to completely use me. I put aside my doubts and fears and God changed my perspective on witnessing.
I began to see witnessing as a privilege.
As 2 Corinthians 5:20 proclaims: “So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” As followers of Jesus, we have the opportunity to share the Gospel with these high school students. What a privilege to walk along side God to reconcile the world.
For me, that ounce of fear still comes up every time before I go witnessing, but after I have these conversations with these high school students, I get this unexplainable feeling of joy. I begin to see witnessing as a privilege and I am amazed how God enables me and gives me the opportunity to partner with Him to change the world.
Continue praying that the students hearts may be open to go to the events of the outreach weeks and listen to the message. Pray for all members of our team to be equipped for the outreach week in helping these students.
Why does the National School Project exist? To be a witness to the life-changing message of the love of Christ! Specifically in the public high schools. But in order to be a powerful witness there, we try to always be reminding one another of the innate joy of witnessing and the love of Christ that drives us to share.
“Let us consider how to stir one another up to love and good works.”
“For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
Today, Cynthia Ramirez, a Student Leader at our BIOLA chapter, will be sharing with us about her experiences with witnessing and her growth and newfound boldness in this area:
For many Christians, once they hear the word “witnessing,” they immediately become fearful. For a very long time, I myself was terrified of coming up to a stranger to share the Gospel. I carried around the fear of possible rejection from people and the fear that I would completely mess up the conversation.
When I arrived in Chicago for Student Leader Training, I read over our schedule and saw that the whole National School Project (NSP) team would be going witnessing. Of course, I immediately became terrified! I also found out that I would be leading my team on a witnessing trip to Navy Pier. I only had previously witnessed a few times and I had never led a witnessing team, so I was no expert!
Thankfully, the NSP staff gave us the training we needed to get a better perspective on witnessing. I learned that as we speak to people about the Gospel, it isn’t about our power, but God’s. I also learned that there can be so much joy in fulfilling our part as we faithfully follow Jesus’ command. But most importantly, there’s so much joy when we see someone give their life to Jesus.
I was so encouraged by my team when I saw their boldness and heart for sharing the Gospel with strangers on the streets of Chicago.
Before heading to the pier, we prayed as a team and invited God to guide us to the people He needed us to speak to. My witnessing partner and I spoke with people and got to share the Gospel with a few who didn’t know who God is.
From all the NSP teams, three people gave their life to Christ. The amazing thing is that we all got to plant seeds, encourage other Christians, and bring people hope.
Even though it might be terrifying to witness, as children of God, we need to be obedient in sharing the Gospel and have a love so deep for people that we can’t help but share this life-changing message. All God is asking from us is to be faithful and tell people about His Son!
One of our guest speakers in our training, Pastor Moodie, shed light on relying on God’s power while witnessing “You do the natural thing, God does the supernatural.”
Let’s not be the people who miss out on sharing about the wonderful life that Christ offers! Let’s be the people who look back on to that first day when we placed our faith in Christ and were completely transformed. Let’s be people who believe God can and will speak through us when we step out in faith!
Whatever your previous experience with witnessing (or lack thereof), let us all together be followers of Christ and boldly proclaim the Gospel!
Of all the people you approach to share the Gospel, 38% are open to hearing it, and only 5% are highly resistant. With our staff and students leaders witnessing yesterday we got to see:
165 people talked to
76 Gospel presentations
19 Christians encouraged
3 first time commitments to Christ
60 Gospel tracts distributed
One of our witnessing pairs, led by Heather Barnes, actually met with two high schoolers who live in Englewood, Chicago. One of these two high schoolers initially said she wasn’t interested in talking about God, but the other said he didn’t mind. As the NSP pair started to go over their Gospel tract, the students became more and more interested and asked more and more questions until they were slowly working through the Gospel verse by verse! With this slow presentation of Bible verses, the students started answering questions for themselves. And by the time they parted ways, they said they were interested in finding out more! We introduced them to a church partner in their area, and we keep them in our prayers and leave them in the power of the Holy Spirit who has begun to work in their lives!
“So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it.”
Two weeks ago we shared a story from the South Bay of Los Angeles. The students in that area have become so passionate for the gospel that they now want to make initiative witnessing a normal activity at their schools. (Read about that here)
To do that, they’ve been laying plans to train the other Christian students on campus to share their faith with their friends and peers. They’ve been scheduling lunchtime and after school witnessing times where they can go out together on campus to start conversations about God.
Their hard work has produced fruit! Just this week at West High School in Torrance, Kent, one of the Christian club leaders, led a witnessing training event. Though it was separate from their normal club meeting, 18 students showed up. Their fellow students learned why they should share their faith, how they could start a conversation about God, and how to share the gospel clearly and succinctly.
Club leader Tommy gives biblical and practical training.
And as a result, 20 students joined Kent and Tommy later in the week for a lunchtime witnessing event! The two were overjoyed at the turnout.
The Christian club gathers for a picture after sharing Christ at lunch.
Even more so, they were grateful at how God touched the lives of students on campus. At the end of lunch, the students had gathered to talk about how their conversations went when two girls came giddily bounding into the room! They had been able to talk with a girl on campus about Jesus and to pray with her. As they prayed, the girl started to cry. She thanked them for talking with her and opened up to them about the depression she’d been dealing with for quite some time. She was so blessed that two girls who didn’t even know her would take the time to talk and pray with her. She even asked if she could start coming to the Christian club with them. Praise God!
Just in that short 30 minute lunch period, a young girl’s life was touched by the love of Jesus. It really showed the students of the Christian club the power of the gospel and the privilege it is to be ambassadors of God.
Please continue to pray for West High School as these awesome leaders continue to lead a gospel movement on their campus. They’re so excited to continue having more conversations about Jesus with their peers on campus!
If you’ve been keeping up with us lately, you’ll know that we recently wrapped up our two week training for our college student leaders, and that we’re thrilled with the caliber of our team this year. During the first week of training, we all went into L.A. to share the gospel around the city. Brennan, our student director at Trinity International University in Chicago, was part of the group that went to Hollenbeck Park in East L.A. He soon struck up a conversation with Gabriel*, who was sitting near the lake that fills the park. He shared with Brennan how he had previously been following Jesus, but that for the past few years he hadn’t been doing so. The two had a fruitful conversation for some time, and before Brennan left he asked Gabriel for his phone number. He gave it willingly, saying that he wanted to discuss faith more.
Brennan (right) with the rest of the TIU leadership team.
Of course, Brennan had to return to Chicago not long after, and so he passed along the contact to Brian, one of our staff members who lives in that area. He sent Gabriel a text, and within a week the two were able to arrange to meet at the same park. Picking up where Brennan left off, the two spent an hour circling the lake in the park, delving into Gabriel’s resistance to following God and what he felt like was holding him back. The conversation led him expressing a renewed desire to seek to follow God and be supported by other Christians, knowing at least one nearby to encourage him in his faith.
Hollenbeck Park in East L.A.
Our goal at CSP is to see lives changed and people following God with their whole lives. That means sharing with as many as possible about the Lord, even if only for a short time. Our goal is always to be able to follow up with those who hear the gospel through our ministry and help them be discipled long term. We’re so grateful to have student leaders this year with that mindset. Pray with us that this will only be the first of many such stories this year.
This week we’re finishing up our series on witnessing stories from the student leader training in Chicago. This story is told by Heather, another student participating in the GAP for God program in Chicago.
We were in Millennium Park in Downtown Chicago when Jaston, the Biola Student Director, & I approached a young couple, John & Kayla, soon-to-be college freshmen. We began talking & found out that Kayla had been given a gospel bead bracelet a week ago at the fair. Someone had explained the gospel to her, but she mentioned, “They never told me HOW I could get saved!” God had already been pursuing her heart relentlessly.
After sharing the gospel, answering questions & inviting them to accept Jesus, they both said, “YES, we want to accept Jesus!”Their genuine response to the gospel transformed the atmosphere of our conversation. Not only did we get to share the gospel with them for 30 minutes, but they also stood with us in the rain for another hour while we walked them through basic principles of walking with the Lord day by day. They both soaked up everything like a sponge.
This conversation with John and Kayla was a huge answer to prayer. Just the night before, I had asked God to let me be a part of follow-up while witnessing. He did just that as we got to help them see what it means to follow Jesus from this point forward & get connected with a Christian group on their college campus. Kayla has already texted me saying how excited she is to get plugged into a Christian community on campus.
Pray with us for John and Kayla and other students like them who have accepted Christ and are beginning the journey of living out their faith daily.
This story is told by Cassie, one of the students participating in the GAP for God program in Chicago.
Brennen, a student leader from Trinity International University, and I were witnessing at Wrigley field and we passed by this 18-year-old guy a couple times. Each time I really felt the Lord tugging on my heart to go talk to him. Again we passed him and finally I said, “We have to talk to that kid right there in the blue.”
We told him who we were and asked him if he knew about Jesus. It turns out Justin didn’t really know anything about Jesus. We got to share the gospel with him, and he said that was the first time he had ever heard it. He was speechless at first and then said it was all really amazing.
We told him the Lord says through His Word that the day of salvation is right now– today!–and asked him if he wanted to receive Christ. We showed him a prayer from a gospel track and he stood there and read over the words on the pages for quite some time.
Finally we asked, “So what do you think?” He said, “Yeah, I read it 3 times over.” We asked if he made it a prayer to the Lord, and with an overwhelming sense of peace in his face he said, “Yeah!” Then we got to explain to him what it means to be a Christian and follow Jesus.
It turns out Justin just graduated high school and is going to a university in LaCrosse Wisconsin, which is the town Brennen grew up in! So Brennen got to tell him about specific options to get plugged into Christian communities and college groups in LaCrosse. What are the chances he just so happened to be going to college in the same city of Wisconsin Brennen is from?
It’s crazy amazing how God works. The conversation we had with Justin that brought him to salvation in Jesus was so simple. It was almost hard to believe at first because of how simple it was. It seemed too good to be true. But it was truly the most genuine encounter of Jesus I’ve ever seen. Justin didn’t try to over think it. There wasn’t a resistant hesitation. It was just a simple “Yes to Jesus.” It was clear that it wasn’t us that brought Justin to the Lord, but it was all God and the power of the Holy Spirit at work in his life.
I realized that God was teaching me something through Justin. He was teaching me that all he ever wants from us is that simple “Yes, Jesus.” He is just looking for willing vessels. All we have to do is say YES to Him, even if that means putting our faith in the things unseen and trusting Him more deeply with our lives and the lives of those around us.
This week we’d like to share with you another story from Chicago. This story is told by Sarah, one of CSP’s newest staff members.
This trip was the first time I had ever been witnessing, which was incredibly intimidating, but also incredibly fruitful. At the beginning of our trip to Chicago, I can honestly say that I was not excited about witnessing and was, in fact, dreading it. However, after the first short time out talking to people, I was hooked. It was so exciting to see the way that the Lord worked in people’s hearts as they heard the gospel. For the remainder of the trip, I saw how the Lord gave me a spirit of boldness to be unashamed of the gospel, even in the face of rejection.
On our final day of witnessing, Brian, another CSP staff member, and I were paired up at the Lincoln Park Zoo for a few hours of sharing the gospel. We quickly realized it was going to be a difficult day as we were feeling discouraged and were continually being turned away by people who didn’t want to talk. In the span of two, almost three hours, we had spoken to a few Christians, but hadn’t been able to share the gospel yet. We were praying for an opportunity, but one had not presented itself.
However, on our way back to meeting our group, Brian approached a young man named Tyler, who was an employee of the zoo. Immediately, Tyler was interested in hearing the gospel and learning more about the Lord. Within a few minutes, we had shared the story of the gospel. Throughout the time talking with him, we could tell that Tyler’s heart was open, and soon after hearing the gospel message, he made the decision to follow Christ! We congratulated him, welcomed him into the Kingdom as a brother in Christ, and encouraged him to begin reading the Bible and attending a Church in his area.
It was so incredible to watch someone be so eager to accept the gospel message and pray for Christ to enter into his life. It reminds me that the Lord is so much bigger than I often make Him out to be and that His Spirit is moving even in the face of rejection and discouragement!
Here’s another amazing story of God changing lives through witnessing on the streets of Chicago. This one is from Lisa, CSP Distance Director:
On Sunday at the beach, I had the privilege of leading Melissa in prayer to receive Christ. She was there with her young son and I asked if she had some time to talk about God. After a 45 minute conversation about how one can have assurance of salvation after death, and also live a full, abundant life surrendered to Christ until then, she said, “I want that but I don’t know how. Could you lead me in praying for that?”
Then I was able to spend time explaining to her how to grow closer to God, connect with a church, the importance of reading the Word, and raising her boy to be a man of God. After exchanging phone numbers and before we had to leave, I told her “We are now sisters in Christ, you and I are sisters!” Her response: “That sounds good to me!”
Here’s a story from Rich Hung, APU Chapter Director, on his experience witnessing in Chicago:
One prayer I was praying every day I was in Chicago was asking God for the opportunity to share the entire gospel every time I went out witnessing. God answered that prayer, and some of people’s responses were: “speechless,” “I’ve never heard it that way,”‘ and “beautiful.”
Of course there were many rejections too. But this was something I was already aware of from the Scriptures that is part of the package of following Jesus. So I wasn’t surprised. The thing that stood out to me was God answering my prayer that His gospel would be heard among those whom He sent us to share of His great love. Though I didn’t see anyone come to Christ personally, my heart was filled with such joy to be a seed planter in sharing the gospel message with many throughout the week UNTIL…
…the last day of our evangelism in Chicago! Another specific prayer I had been praying was that I would able to lead someone to Christ. I was praying in faith and anticipating that God could answer, and He did answer that prayer powerfully and beautifully! During our last day witnessing in the city, I met two young men whom the Lord allowed me the privilege of leading to Christ. After asking them 3-4 questions, I shared my testimony, explained the gospel, and asked, “Would you like to receive Jesus as your Savior and begin following Him as Lord?”
They both said, “YES!”
These two young men were 1) a high school grad getting ready to go to a university in Washington, and 2) a high school student entering into his junior year! I was able to share with them the importance of getting into the Word, prayer, relationships with strong Christians, and finding a local church. If that’s not enough, the Lord sent two more from our team, Cassie Winters on the Chicago team and Josh Shirey from the Biola team, to talk with these two young men and encourage them with their own personal testimonies! Josh was even able to connect the high school grad with his friend who is a strong believer and attends the same college in Washington.
I’m filled with joy knowing that these two young men went from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. I’m especially thrilled that the high school graduate heard the message and received it with great joy before entering into the pressures of a secular college.
I don’t think these young men know how joyful the Lord and the heavens are over their precious hearts and souls, but I pray they may understand it more deeply with every passing day.