The power of friendly evangelism
It was an unusual day when I went to my local gym for a swim, my regular way of exercising. I barely entered the spa at the gym when a 6 ft 8 inches national prize wrestler entered the spa with me. His spread and appearance was daunting and intimidating yet he looked harmless and gentle.
I could smell alcohol on his breath when he said hello to me. I said hello back to him and then an extraordinary journey to discover the person of Jesus began.
He started the conversation by lamenting about his current misfortune as his relationship with his fiancé had come to an end a few days ago. He said to me, "all I want is a woman who is not interested in my post, role, position or fame".
Inside me I was wondering, "how should I respond to this gentleman?" At once I could hear an inner voice telling me to pay attention and follow the path that he would show me. So, I told the gentleman "If you are looking for a good girl, have you considered looking in a good church?" He then said to me "It's good that you said that because my mother has just told me to try coming to church to find a good church girl to marry." Then I asked him how long it's been since his last visit to church and what was his understanding about being a follower of Jesus. He paused and told me that he doesn't go to church or have anything to do with God, but he knows God exists somewhere. This was a great opportunity, so I started the journey of friendly evangelism and our discussion ranged from football to wrestling, music, family, food, recreation, etc. I remember telling him that his experiences of failure and disappointment are needed by the young ones and it would be great, if he can consider creating time and space to speak in his church. I asked him whether he has explored the opportunity of being a role model and he said he hasn't thought about it but it would be worth exploring.
The conversation continued further until I asked him whether he knows the person of Jesus Christ. He answered vaguely and I used the opportunity to tell him about my conversion story. I told him about my current job that spreads across charities, nations, and investment in the younger generation. He showed immense interest in my story and said that it challenged him. He then asked me the question of how he could have such peace and a fulfilled life. I told him that it's simply by giving his life back to the Creator and allowing him to guide him in every aspect of his life. He asked me how and I said, it's simply by believing in Jesus Christ and following him. To my surprise and astonishment, he asked whether I could pray for him. What an exhilarating feeling of excitement that rushed through my bones as we both sat up, at the edge of the spa, holding his hands as I led him to the Lord.
To my surprise while we were praying, a lady who had been watching us was walking past and just as I finished praying for the gentleman, whose eyes were misty with tears, the lady approached us. She told us that she was stopped in her tracks by God while walking past and prompted to stop and pray for us from a distance. We told her about the miracle that had just happened and right in the middle of a public swimming pool, we all cried with tears of joy as we all experienced the amazing power of God that arrested a giant national wrestler by the pool to become a follower of Christ shortly after 8am on a Tuesday morning.
I have come to the conclusion that people, irrespective of colour, sex, race or background are yearning and seeking for solutions and answers to their troubled lives. I have also discovered that the best methodology of engaging with a hurting world is through friendly evangelism, because nobody cares what you know until they know that you care. If every believer can take the opportunity to befriend an unbeliever and extend a hand of friendship, sharing with boldness their personal story that led them to know the Saviour, it won't be long before we see communities and countries transformed and people becoming followers of Jesus Christ.
Rev Yemi Adedeji is Associate Director of HOPE and Director of the One People Commission of the Evangelical Alliance.