|Introduction to The Introverted Evangelist|
Does the thought of sharing your faith fill you with dread? Do you carry a conviction to witness but often find preaching the Gospel an arduous and challenging task? Perhaps you’ve never led someone into a relationship with Jesus, or you’ve decided to leave evangelism primarily to the so-called ‘professionals’. If so, I want to encourage you to read this book. Why? Because The Introverted Evangelist was written specifically with you in mind.
The book you are about to read is an honest and vulnerable account of what God has done in my own life. It’s a story of how I, an introvert, came to discover the universal call to know Jesus and make Him known.
As this book sits in your hands, my prayer is that faith would begin to arise in your heart. A faith that would draw you closer to the heart of God and in turn, stir within you a courage and confidence to begin to share the greatest message of all, the Gospel, with those around you.
So here’s a little about me. Growing up, unless I was around immediate family or close friends, I found myself timid, shy and reserved. I remember the times at Gilmour Infant School, sitting in assembly at the age of five and getting overly upset if my teacher wasn’t the first to collect our class for the day ahead. I also remember standing on stage at church with twenty other peers for a rendition of the ‘Millennium Prayer’, a song by Cliff Richard. As I looked out at the smiling congregation, I found myself trying my hardest to hold back the tears, believing every eye was fixed upon me alone. Whether I was sent to the corner shop to ask the man behind the till for bread and milk, or whether I was involved in the everyday task of small-talk – these moments were often found to be demanding, difficult and uncomfortable.
As the years went by, I slowly grew in confidence. In fact, in my last year of primary school, I even managed to be cast not only as an orphan inour school summer show, Annie, but also as James Bond in the same play! Despite this, if anyone was to find a personality label etched into my forehead, it would still clearly read one word – introvert.
After a few initial ‘failed’ attempts at sharing my faith at the age of eleven, I told myself never again, and determined to firmly keep my lips shut when it came to discussing the things of God. This eventually led me down a path of being ashamed of the Gospel entirely, wanting nothing to do with Christianity at all.
Four years on, everything changed. As you will read in chapter three, I unexpectedly made the decision to surrender my life back to God. In one moment, I became captivated by my Saviour and fell in love with His word. All of a sudden, every previous excuse I held of why I couldn’t share my faith with others was thrown out of the window. Knowing Jesus began to fuel my desire to make Him known, and despite my introverted tendencies, silence was no longer an option.
Fifteen years on from that evening in the middle of an open field in 2005, I now live with a passion for sharing the Gospel. I find immense joy in equipping and empowering others to do the same, especially those who struggle as I did, to face their fears and find their voice. My hope is that as you read this book, that same passion I hold would begin to bubble up within you as well, no matter what personality type you claim to lean towards.
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Before we jump in, let’s get something straight from the beginning. If you call yourself a follower of Jesus, you are called to be a witness. There’s no way around it. No excuses, no let-offs and no exemptions. It doesn’t matter what our personality traits are, each of us are called to share the good news of Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection with those around us. Let’s be honest though. For many of you right now, despite knowing that you’re called to share your faith, fear grips you. For some, your friends and work colleagues don’t even know you follow Jesus. For others, though they do, your faith is a private matter, and it rarely, if at all, comes up in conversation.
As I write this introduction, the world is in panic, desperately searching for a vaccine to cure COVID-19. As Christians, we already possess the most beneficial medicine for the human soul, and it’s called the Gospel. In a world of expensively priced prescriptions, the Gospel is a free gift. Although purchased at the highest price, it is given for all to receive free of charge – with no adverse side effects. When accepted, it transforms the sinner into saint and brings the sick to salvation. More than any other, this is the message humanity desperately needs to hear.
As you hear my story and allow the revelation God has given me to settle within your heart, I am convinced that the once fearful and afraid will discover a new enthusiasm and confidence to share their faith. This doesn’t mean that if you finish this book today, evangelism will be easy tomorrow. Like a muscle, our evangelism strengthens the more we work it out. However, I can assure you that reading this book will set your heart aflame for God and provide you with a passion to step out and develop as an effective witness of Christ.
Before we start, I want to share one last thought. There will be some of you who pick this book up that already have a desire to make Jesus known. Despite your introverted tendencies, you know God has called you to share your faith, and you’ve already experienced the incomparable thrill of leading another into a relationship with Jesus. As you read, I want you to consider whether God is asking you to step beyond the universal call to be a witness, and step into the office of the evangelist. Before you scoff; please recognise your personality type is not the barometer to decide whether He is calling you or not. In the Bible, God never once pigeonholed a person by their personality. In fact, much of the time, those that felt most unable and unqualified were the very individuals the Lord desired to use for His glory.
As you will soon discover, I lived for years feeling unable and inadequate when sharing my faith, yet my passion for the lost kept me coming back for more. I think of the time I was in a coffee shop with my wife, Tamar. Finishing our drinks, we stood up and approached the corridor that led to the exit. Passing a table of four young men, I heard them mock the Bible and laugh about being atheists. Despite sensing I should approach them, I let fear dictate my actions, and I continued to walk towards the exit. My wife, knowing something was bothering me, asked me to explain what it was. As I did, she then sent me back over to them. Her encouragement led me to talk with the group, tell them about Jesus, and be given the opportunity to pray over the entire table.
Then there was the time I boarded a plane, sat down at my window seat, and just before I closed my eyes, noticed the young woman next to me pull out a book on witchcraft. Hoping to mind my own business and leave her be, the Holy Spirit began to nudge me to reach out. Again, fighting fear and doubt, I reluctantly turned to face her. Within fifteen minutes of chit-chat, I was sharing the Gospel, handing her tissues to wipe away her tears, and praying for her on board a full flight across America.
What I’m trying to say is this; it is never the personality that makes the evangelist, but the heart they carry towards the lost. As my friend and colleague, Rod Barnett, once told me: ‘the calling and gifting of the evangelist transcends personality. It is a heart broken for the lost, filled with the love of a Saviour and empowered by the Holy Spirit.’
Please hear me; the Church today needs more introverted evangelists. The Church needs more of those who can equip the body of Christ and be able to say, “I understand your fears and concerns. Why? Because I’ve walked in your shoes.”
I wonder, could God be calling you?
As we begin, I pray this book will bless you as you awaken to the universal call of knowing Jesus and making Him known. With that said, let’s jump right in towards the beginning, the day my life flashed before my eyes. The day I experienced a fear and thrill that could only be held comparable to an introvert stepping out and sharing their faith for the very the first time…