Every person has a story, and every story has power behind it.
For the second time in my life, I set up a blanket with a sign and a friend in the middle of a park in Byron Bay, Australia. Last time, the sign said “Free Encouragement”. This time, the sign said
“I’ll pay you $1 if you tell me your story”.
We only had $4, but we figured four stories were enough to hear in one day. The first hour was filled with skeptical backwards glances and excuses for not having enough time. It was starting to look like our idea was a bit of a failure when finally, we were approached by a young French man. He sat on the blanket, lit a cigarette, and said that he didn’t have much time but he would tell us his story.
He started from the very beginning, and led us through a shortened version of his entire life. We weren’t able to ask many questions due to his lack of available time, but he had traveled around a bit and I got the chance to ask which place he had enjoyed the most. He told me that it wasn’t necessarily the location that determined which place he had enjoyed the most, but the state that he had been in mentally. He went on to say that he could have been in the most beautiful place in the world, but if he was depressed at the time he wouldn’t be able to look back and see the beauty of where he had been. Before he could run off, we were able to share a little bit about how we found fulfilment in God rather than our circumstances or emotions. He seemed interested, but as he had somewhere to be, he got up and left after saying goodbyes.
Evangelism isn’t forcing someone to say a prayer and then leaving them wondering what they got themselves into. Evangelism is demonstrating God’s love through everyday interactions and planting seeds so that people can go on a journey with Him. It’s starting conversations with people because you actually care about their well-being, and actively listening to what they have to say. It’s easy to get caught up in the disappointment of not being able to tell someone the Gospel story directly, but what we do goes deeper than that. Just by setting up a blanket for a couple hours,
we ended up hearing six different stories from all different walks of life.
We heard from college girls, drug dealers, musicians, and hopeful world changers. Most of the time wasn’t even spent talking about faith. But by letting people be heard and feel love through that, they could catch a little glimpse of what it feels like to be loved by the Father. We might not be reaping the harvest, but we are planting the seeds.
We tried to offer our French friend the dollar that we had promised, but he refused to accept it. In fact, half of the stories we heard that day were for free, because people said that they enjoyed talking to us so much that they wouldn’t let us pay them.
While we offered money to hear stories, it doesn’t cost anything to show kindness to others. And the experiences we gain from that are priceless.
By, Caitlin Montgomery