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Friday, July 22, 2011

Evangelism Machine

Several years ago, when Team Owens was just DaddyDan, ShellyO and two toddlers, our little family of four went for a stroll around the neighborhood.

We live right in the city of Atlanta, which is markedly different from the sweet, sleepy, predominantly Christian suburbs. In our hood, when you encounter new people, chances are that they’re not Christians. Our neighbors run the gamut -- every race, religion and lifestyle you can imagine.
So, as I was saying, our little family was taking a walk. On said walk, we encountered a neighbor working in his garden. I'd seen him out before and we'd exchanged friendly waves, but that was the extent of our relationship. He was an elderly man, a widower and I'd estimated him to be about 80 years old.

Madeline noticed him from a distance and asked me… “Mommy, can I go tell that man about Jesus?” And of course the first thought that popped into my wicked little brain was “NO WAY!!! You can’t just walk up to some random stranger and start talking about Jesus! Good grief, can you say... AWKWARD?”

Poor, naïve, four-year old Madeline. Unlike me, she didn’t have the advantage of extensive evangelism training and the vast knowledge of apologetics studies stored up in her little mind. Heck, she’d never even done a Beth Moore study. She didn’t realize that you first have to “earn the right” before you can just approach people and share about Jesus. After all, these things take time – Rome wasn’t built in a day, people.
My dear husband, who knew exactly what I was thinking, leaned in and whispered… “Shelly, are you seriously about to tell our daughter that she cannot share the gospel with a neighbor?” And I’m thinking… “um, yes.” And I rolled my eyes.

But I knew Dan was right. So, I smiled sweetly and looked down at Madeline. “Of course, sweetie. You can go talk to the man if you want.” And all the while I was thinking… she won’t really do it. Surely she’ll chicken out.
But right before my doubting eyes, my four-year-old daughter and my two-year-old son, hand-in-hand, approached the man in his garden. They walked directly up to him and said, in unison, in their squeaky little toddler voices… “Hi!”

The neighbor turned half-way around, smiled weakly and said “hi there,” without a whole lot of interest.
Undeterred, Madeline took a deep breath and plunged forward “um, sir… do you know Jesus?” The man spun all the way around, looked Madeline square in the eye and replied “yes, I do.”

Madeline and Davis were totally unprepared for this response. They looked at each other, unsure of what to say next, so Davis looked back up at the man and said… “Well, are you sure?”

This poor man burst out laughing, turned his back and resumed his gardening. Apparently, our conversation was over. Dan and I mumbled something like “ok then, have a nice evening.” And we shuffled the kids along and resumed our walk.
Ah, the evangelism machine that is Team Owens. 

But that was then. And this is now…

Over the last year, our family has been presented with more opportunities to share the gospel than I’d ever have time to recall here. We haven’t gone seeking these opportunities… but mostly the opportunities have sought us. 

We have the same love and zeal for the Lord that we had years ago. Our hearts are still our hearts. But the difference is this: these days He has our family looking different from the rest of the world. The Lord has us walking down the path less traveled -- and that's intriguing. People want to know WHY? What compels you to live this way?
People who know of our family’s ministry to Uganda will seek us out. Last week, three neighbors showed up on our doorstep asking questions about "our" God. When we're out around town, strangers notice our unusual, multi-racial family and they want to know more. 

And, whenever it's possible, we're happy to explain... We do it because of Him. We couldn't (and we wouldn't) do it without Him. And to Him alone be all the glory and praise.

Saint Francis of Assisi hit the nail on the head when he said this…“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”
I’m convinced that’s pretty much all there is to effectively sharing the gospel. It's not so much about using words -- instead, it's about how your live your life.


Jennie said...

I tell thy story of your rockin' kids' hearts often. Love them!

The Fruitful Family said...

One of my all time favorite stories of the Little Crazies!

J. Smith said...

Sweet time this morning catching up on the crazies. Haven't read in a while. You, Dan, and 60 feet have been such an inspiration to so many of us here in MS. Love to you!

Audrey @ The Brown Brigade said...

I love their little Jesus-loving hearts. And yours!

the_blissful_mommy said...

thaaaaaaaaat's hilarious. :) Go, Fantacial TeamOwens. xoxox E

Dawn said...

Hi! I was introduced to your family today at "The Lettered Cottage" and I was thrilled to see God's mercy and love so sweetly shared on her site! Your story is beautiful as you reflect the Father's love for orphans! I have three adopted children and each time I see our family photo... and I am humbled at how lucky we are to be brough together by Him. I also just returned from Uganda and so your post about "M" deeply stung. I will be in prayer for your family and your organization as God uses you to bring light into darkness! Thank you for sharing. I hope your trip to China goes smoothly and that you dance in God's presence!

love said...