“Wow, you came back for us?” His face said more than his words; a look of shock and a visibly tender awareness of the fact that he had not been ignored calmly swept over his face. He stood there holding a cigarette in one hand and a slurpee in the other. “People like you guys don’t normally talk to people like us.”
It’s coming up on a year that I’ve been back from my mission in New Zealand, where I spent 18 months. Upon returning home, one of my biggest fears about no longer being a full-time missionary was that I would stop inviting people to learn more about Christ. This portion of my blog will be devoted to tips about how to invite people to come unto Christ, and will be one way of keeping myself accountable in doing so. : )
The story I began this post with actually starts with a talk given by an Apostle of the Lord in 1984. Elder Ballard instructed followers of Christ to “write down a date in the near future on which you will have someone ready to be taught the gospel. Do not worry that you do not have someone already in mind. Let the Lord help you as you pray diligently for guidance. Fast and pray, seeking guidance and direction from our Heavenly Father.”
1. Set a date in faith that God will help you find someone
After returning from my mission, I had set the goal to find someone by a certain date. As the date drew closer and closer, I got a little more nervous that I had not found anyone yet. My prayers became more and more meaningful, as I pleaded with the Lord to let me find someone to share the Gospel with.
2. Consider that everyone you meet could want to hear your message
One Sunday evening, I was walking to devotional with a friend of mine, Brie. As we were walking in our Sunday clothes, two guys holding slurpees asked us “if that temple thing happened today,” referring to a recent temple dedication. We started talking, and I invited them to come to the devotional with us. They said yes, explaining that they had been wanting to attend church but just didn’t know where their local congregation was. We told them where the chapel was and that we’d save them a seat because they had to get ready.
3. Be sensitive to the prompting of the Spirit and immediately act on them
We parted ways and got about a block away, when I had this feeling that we shouldn’t make them come on their own, but should show up to the devotional with them. Brie and I turned around, and found the two guys standing in the parking lot of their apartment complex.
4. Realize that you can’t mess it up because this is God’s work, not your’s
I was feeling like I’d messed up, not going with them in the first place. After walking up to the two guys, we told them we came back so we could all go together. They were touched that we came back for them, and one said, “Wow, you came back for us?” The fact that we came back seemed to be more touching than had we just gone with them in the first place. They were excited, and invited us to their place to wait while one of them got ready really quick. While we waited, one showed us pictures of his son, and the other told us about the band he was in.
5. Remember that success is found in the invitation
We went to the devotional and although they weren’t terribly interested in the topic and they didn’t accept any invitations after that, they seemed to appreciate the fact that someone reached out to them. As they said, “People like you guys don’t normally talk to people like us.” That made the interaction a success.