HOW TO WITNESS TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY

Someone emailed us recently and asked “How do I as the only believer witness to friends and family members?”

I want to start of by saying that there is no set formula. Circumstances, people, background, etc. vary. Therefore, it is impossible for any one to give a generic answer that is applicable to all as it relates to this question. I can, however, share principles and personal experience.

My wife and I, for a time, were the only Christians in our families. Then little by little, the Lord brought family members and friends in, or peaked their interest. It took months and years for this to occur… it takes faithfulness and patience.

The most common mistake that people make is to try to force religion on friends and families because of their newfound zeal. This is the main determent. Zeal is good but it must be controlled by reason. People learn and receive things differently. Some, like you and I, may hear the gospel and are willing to yield to it, while others may take more time. Therefore we have to be patient with them as God is patient with us.

James 5:7 says “Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it…”

The first principle that I want to share with you is that you must be patient.

The second principle is do not feel that you must share everything and turn every conversation into something seemingly spiritual. Jesus Himself said to the disciples “I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.” John 16:12

Ellen White also states: “It is the very essence of all right faith to do the right thing at the right time” {6T 24.3}

The scriptures also declare: “The Lord God hath given Me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary… Isa 50:4

There are several things to learn from this scripture. Namely, when your tongue is “learned” you will speak a word in season, which suggests that you could speak a word out of season.

Your main objective is to win your family and friends, not turn them off. Therefore, your life should be different enough to arouse inquiry, yet not so queer that you appear absurd. You want to allow them to see a demonstration of what Christianity is and prayerfully they will be attracted to it. This will naturally lead to inquiry. It is then that the opportunity will be given you to share and you are able “speak a word in season to him that is weary”.

I have become a counselor to friends and family members, not because I sought after it, but because by God’s grace my wife and I try our best to be consistent in all aspects of life. We are different, but different can be attractive when carried out humbly.

“The witness borne concerning Jesus was, “Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). The reason that Christ spoke as no other man spoke was that He lived as no other man lived. If He had not lived as He did, He could not have spoken as He did. His words bore with them convincing power, because they came from a heart pure and holy, burdened with love and sympathy, beneficence and truth….” – {HP 237.3}

This is not to say that we should not capitalize on opportunities, we should, but try not to force opportunities. There may be times when the Lord especially might put a burden on your heart and you pull a family member aside and share with them that burden. This is perfectly fine; just listen to the voice of God. “…he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned.” Isaiah 50:4. This means that we can be trained to hear God speaking to us at the opportune time.

It is also important to understand that you are not called to win every soul. God has a diversity of gifts and can strategically place other people in the path of some family member, however, this does not prevent you from sowing seeds. Sometimes God uses other people to reach those family members.

I have a sister that is familiar with my wife and I, but another Christian peaked her interest. She eventually saw inconsistencies in how they lived in comparison to us and came to us for studies. God works in mysterious ways.

Another reality is “The Lord does not now work to bring many souls into the truth, because of the church members who have never been converted and those who were once converted but who have backslidden. What influence would these unconsecrated members have on new converts? Would they not make of no effect the God-given message which His people are to bear? – {6T 370.3}

God sees the realities of the condition of some of our churches and He will withhold people for now until He sees fit. Again, we should continue to sow the seeds and let the Lord manifest the harvest. We cannot know who He is withholding from who He is not. Therefore it is our responsibility to share.

Lastly, never forget the power of prayer “We do not value the power and efficacy of prayer as we should. Prayer and faith will do what no power on earth can accomplish.” {MH 509.2}

There is a power behind prayer that is too often underestimated and not fully understood. Most people do not really understand how electricity works but it does not prevent them from flipping a switch. Most people do not fully understand how oxygen really works but it does not prevent them from breathing. It is the same principle with prayer. You will never fully understand how it works but do not neglect this most powerful tool.

“O, that one might plead for a man with God, as a man pleadeth for his neighbor! – Job 16:21

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