The Mask of Hostility
Don’t get discouraged and give up, for we will reap a harvest of blessing at the appropriate time (Galatians 6:9, NLT).
It was at Wheaton College in Illinois, a great Christian institution. We were holding a Lay Institute for Evangelism where we gave training in how to live a Spirit-filled life and how to share one’s faith in Christ. Part of the training was dedicated to an afternoon of actual witnessing, door to door in the local community.
A good friend of mine, a professor at the college, approached us, “I want to go with you, Bill. You’re the professional.” My friend thought that since I had taught thousands of people how to witness more effectively, perhaps some of the “magic” would rub off on him.
I don’t know why the Lord allowed it, but it turned out to be absolutely the worst witnessing experience I have ever had in my entire Christian life. We were almost bodily thrown out of one house. Another listener reacted very angrily. We didn’t see one single person who was interested in even talking with us. We hit an incredibly unexplainable streak of “no’s” all afternoon.
Maybe God wanted to encourage my friend by illustrating that even Bill Bright, the so-called professional, a supposed “natural” at witnessing, didn’t have any power to lead anyone to the Lord unless God Himself did it. In over 50 years of sharing my faith, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of hostile rejections that I remember. But a good portion of them seemed to hit all at once on that day!
Had we failed that day in our witnessing? No. The only failure in witnessing is the failure to witness. Out job is to witness, the Holy Spirit’s role is to reveal Christ and perform the miracle of the new birth.
We cannot allow what may appear as an unsuccessful witnessing experience to discourage us. In some of the worst situations, the Holy Spirit can give us just the right words to say.
Once after I had spoken on a college campus, a young man cornered me. He glared at me as he proclaimed, “I don’t believe in God, I don’t believe in the Bible, and I don’t believe in Christ and Christianity.”
We talked for a while, and then I felt led to ask: “Do I discern correctly, Ken, that the real reason you’ve come to me tonight is that you really want to know God personally?”
Ken leaned back in his chair and admitted, “Yes, I do.” That night, I had the privilege of helping this sharp young man receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. As we parted, he said to me, “Mr. Bright, thank you for not letting my big mouth prevent you from discerning my real need and showing me the truth.”
From my experience, I can assure you that this is a common occurrence. Apparent hostility is often simply a smokescreen to hide a deep-down desire for God.
Yours for helping to fulfill the Great Commission each year until our Lord returns,
About the Author
The late Dr. Bill Bright was Founder and President/Chairman Emeritus of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization which began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 27,000 full-time staff and up to 500,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world’s population. In the past 50 years, Campus Crusade for Christ has seen approximately 6 billion exposures to the gospel worldwide. The film, “JESUS,” which Bright conceived and funded through Campus Crusade for Christ, is the most widely translated and viewed film of any type ever produced. Since its use began in 1980, the film has been translated into 839 languages and viewed or listened to by over 5.7 billion people in 228 countries. Dr. Bright was also the author of more than fifty books. Dr. Bright recently co-founded Global Pastors Network to “Touch, Teach and Train” a group of 5 million new house churches around the world 24/7/365 at http://www.globalpastorsnetwork.org.
Copyright (c) 2003, Bill Bright. All rights reserved. Used with permission.