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November 25, 2017

Just a Few Stories of Unlikely New Friendships

By Linda Bergquist

Recently a church planter asked me to assist as one of a dozen locals who were filmed for his support-raising video. “By the way,” he added when he invited me, “None of the three people on the production crew are Christians.” During the 15-minute video taping, they asked questions about the planter, about the community, and about local church planting efforts. I made certain not to use “Christian-ese” during the interview and focused my efforts particularly on one of their team members, a young Sikh man.

When we were finished, one of the men said he wanted to ask me just one more question. “Do you have a story of transformation?” He explained: “Do you have any stories of an individual whose life was changed because of the kinds of things this planter will be doing?” That was easy. Me. I had a personal testimony that seemed to be made for such a time as this. “Glad you asked, sir!” I left that place with a heart filled with song. My usually introverted, tentative-to-be-filmed self felt energized and empowered because I was sharing the gospel with people who are far from Christ. That’s what happens to people who have evangelistic- apostolic Ephesians 4 gifting.

This story is not a stand-alone event. Recently, my husband and I returned from vacationing in Europe. We were privileged to visit the Coliseum, the Vatican, the Louvre, and more. The memories will stay with me forever. However, among the most vivid memories of London, Rome, and Paris are the times when I was in a taxi or seated next to an Uber driver with whom I shared the gospel. One driver asked me to pray that the dictator of his home country would be killed. It led to a conversation about how the widespread understanding that all have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory may have set the stage for democracy by declaring that popes, kings, prophets, and dictators are all sinners who need a system of checks and balances. At the end of our ride, the driver refused the tip I offered because now we were friends.

Another conversation with Muslim driver in London focused on what we love about his city. I told him that the incredibly beautiful diversity of his city makes me mindful of a day that is prophesized in the Bible when people from every nation who speak every language will all worship together before Jesus, who is the Savior of the world. I told him that it was the most exquisitely beautiful thing I could imagine, and his city helped me to long for that day even more. He loved hearing that.

Recently, I visited a large suburban mosque that caters to Islamic intellectuals. They hosted a community event to present themselves as Muslims to people who believe differently. Signs posted around the center declared that Mohammed wanted people to not waste water or cut down trees unnecessarily. It led to a conversation with leaders about how the Holy Bible speaks to the belief that there will be a time when Jesus restores and redeems all things, including nature.

There are all kinds of spiritual adventures stories. In each case, the Holy Spirit invites a creative way of connecting an individual’s situation to something in Scripture. No formulas. No prescriptions.

If you are reading this and you are a church planter, it probably resonates with you that sharing the gospel energizes you. If you are reading this story and are not a planter, but you are energized by sharing the gospel, maybe you are a church planter or a future part of a church planting team, but you simply have not discovered this aspect of your calling yet. It may be that these kinds of stories are a part of your everyday life, but you are timid about sharing across perceived cultural or religious barriers. Maybe you need to give it a try?

This year I have committed one day a week to intentionally visit local places and spaces that are home to peoples that are some of the least represented among the global people of God. Maybe you don’t have one day a week, but you have a neighbor, a gym mate, a classmate, a client, or a local merchant with whom you can intentionally engage in the happy activity of sharing the good news with unlikely new friends.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Linda Bergquist

Linda Bergquist is a church planting catalyst, coach, teacher, mentor who has been living and working in the Bay Area for 20 years. She works among many ethnic groups, and has a special interest in least reached people groups. Bergquist is an advocate of all kinds of churches and church planting methodologies. She has coauthored two books, Church Turned Inside Out and The Wholehearted Church Planter, and is the author of the Exponential series e-book The Great Commission and the Rest of Creation.

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