When I was a brand-new believer, my pastor told me I should share Christ with everyone I came in touch with at all times. No exceptions. He emphasized that if I did not do it, I was responsible for their eternal demise. I believed my pastor, and I wanted to obey him, but during my first days as a Christian I was painfully shy. Shyness had been a problem since my childhood. I was so shy that I had to practice in front of the bathroom mirror before talking to my father about any serious matter. I would say, “Hello, Father. How are you?” Then, imitating my father, I would respond, “Fine. What is it, Son?” To this I would reply, “I was wondering if I could go to such and such place.” On and on it went. Everything was fine as long as I was in charge of the whole dialogue. But the minute I came out and faced him, if he failed to follow the script I had imagined, I would freeze and run back into the bathroom. Shyness was my greatest obstacle in trying to talk to strangers about Christ.
When I first got saved, I rode a public bus for about 20 minutes each day. Repeatedly, I was tormented by my inability to share Christ with the 30 passengers that rode the same bus. At the end of my daily ride, I would feel like a total failure, but not for lack of trying. I constantly tried to speak to strangers, but my mouth was welded shut. I used to have nightmares in which I saw myself approaching the Judgment Seat of Christ. While I stood before the Lord, some of my fellow bus riders would yell from hell to Jesus, saying, “Don’t let him in! He rode the bus with us, and he never told us about You or heaven or hell!” I felt as though I was in hell myself. What could I do? It was then that I came across Ephesians 2:10. I was impacted by the last part of the verse: “God prepared [good works] beforehand, that we should walk in them.” It was clear to me that sharing Christ with strangers was part of God’s list of good works for me. I already knew I had been called to evangelism, but I also knew that I was greatly handicapped by my shyness. So I asked the question: How far can I see? Could I preach the gospel to a busload of people? No! Could I pass out tracts to the people riding the bus? No! What could I do? How far could I see? I settled for the very minimum. I decided to silently pray every day for the person seated next to me. So for a number of weeks I quietly sat next to someone while silently praying for his or her salvation. After doing this for a season, it occurred to me that I could bring some gospel tracts from home and sneak them behind my back before I stood up. Like a terrorist trying to activate a bomb, I found myself surreptitiously sliding the gospel tracts between my back and my seat on the bus, hoping that my fellow riders would find them after I had left. After doing that for several weeks, I felt courageous enough to
give the tracts to my neighbors at precisely the moment I was getting off the bus. It was a very safe move. If he or she asked any questions, I could truthfully say, “I’m sorry. I am getting off here.”
A few weeks later, I felt confident enough to go a little further. Rather than handing out the tracts the moment I was ready to descend, I decided to do it one block before my destination. I still felt safe. If any question was asked, I could still excuse myself on account of my imminent descent. Before long, I began to feel more courageous and decided to give out the tracts five blocks before my final stop. Then I moved that up to 10 blocks. Later on, 15 blocks. Finally, the day arrived when I was able to distribute the tracts the moment I boarded the bus. “Here,” I would say, “this is for you. Please read it. If you have any questions, I will be glad to answer them.”
Today, I look at entire cities and nations and do not feel the least tinge of apprehension as I strategize how to bring transformation to them. By going as far as I was able to as I rode that bus, God enabled me to gradually increase the distance. This is also true for you. How far can you see? Go as far as you can, no matter how minuscule that first step appears to be.*
*Excerpt from That None Should Perish, pages 289-291.