“We need to begin knocking on the ‘doors’ God has placed in our personal world.”
“I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (John 4:35b).
As I rounded the corner on my alternate daily run, I could not help but notice them. They were paired up, two on one side of the street and two on the other. Middle-aged, modestly dressed and book in hand, they were going through this prestigious neighbourhood knocking on doors. They were not selling anything. They were Jehovah’s Witnesses doing “door-to-door” evangelism.
Later that same day, my wife and I had to visit a store in the downtown core of our city. We managed to get a parking spot directly across from a bus stop. Two young men in short-sleeved white shirts with name tags attached and books in hand stood conversing with a young man who was waiting for his bus. Past experience told me these gentlemen were Mormon missionaries.
I must admit, as a practising Christian, these two experiences stirred something in my spirit. Yes, I’m involved in our church. My wife and I have even gone on mission trips. But what was I doing outside the walls of my church? As a 60-plus fourth-generation Christian, I recall the day when we took our faith to the streets. I’ve heard the comment: “It’s a different day and times have changed”—but did someone forget to tell the Jehovah’s Witnesses and the Mormons?
Later the same week, the rest of the story unfolded for me.
Almost 15 years ago, some of our best friends moved to a city about a 90-minute drive away. At that time, we were both in the midst of rearing our families. Needless to say, time and visits were limited. Our children went off to university and shortly after that got married. Naturally, our friends were invited to the weddings. And that was the last time they saw our son—until last weekend.
Our son was on his way from his home in Northern Ontario to a business appointment and decided to drop in on our friends unannounced. They had a wonderful time catching up on the years that had passed. Shortly after our son left their home, I received a text from our friends. Here is how the text read, word for word: “We had a nice surprise tonight with a visit from Jason. Oh my goodness, Jon, it’s like being with your twin. From his hand gestures, the way he scratches his head, and even the words he uses. Love it!”
I am aware of the similarities between my son and me. When people who know me see him, they see me. But who do people see when they see me?
After reading the text from our friends, the words of the Apostle Paul began running through my head: “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1) and “Be imitators of God …” (Ephesians 5:1). The combination of the events I’ve described above challenges me. How can I be a door-to-door type of Christian every day? If I’m an imitator of Christ, every word and every action will mirror Christ. Yes, it is a different day and times have changed, but some things have not. The world is hurting, and people are looking for answers. We have the answer. It’s a matter of being willing to engage others with every opportunity God gives us.
As I meditated on these two experiences, the challenge became clear. We need to move past being superficial Christians. We need to be imitators of Christ in the multiple opportunities we all have each day to interact with people. It can be the neighbour five doors down whom you pass every day on your walk. Or how about the mechanic who fixes your car? You know his first name, but that’s probably it. We need to begin knocking on the “doors” God has placed in our personal world.
Here’s an example of what I mean.
We have a friend attending our church who is 85 years young. Several times a week he visits the Tim Hortons around the corner from his home. After buying his coffee, he looks for someone sitting alone. Politely, he asks if he can share their table and then engages them in conversation. He has a captive audience. Needless to say, many of his conversations lead to an opportunity to share his faith.
Everybody has a story. If we begin by listening, doors will open. We will be invited in and discover opportunities to share our faith. Becoming a “door-to-door” evangelist is as easy as starting a conversation. The fields were ripe for harvest 2,000 years ago, and they are still ripe today.
Jon Stapleyresides in Oshawa, Ont., and attends King Street Community Church. Jon has been married to Laurie for 39 years. They have a son, a daughter, and four grandchildren.
This article appeared in the May/June 2018 issue of testimony, the bimonthly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada.