By Linnete Bachman
I’ve heard it said that courage is not the absence of fear but moving forward in spite of fear. I have needed courage in evangelism in every season! In my full-time-on-campus years, I *enjoyed* leading IBDs. (After the first few minutes of door knocking and waiting feverishly to see if anyone would come, that is.) Partnering with a student leader gently pushed me to be brave and set the pace. Yet each time I hosted one, I was always amazed that our student friends did indeed have spiritual questions!
In my part-time-on-campus, full-time-mom years, I loved living right by campus. It enabled me to have students over easily and to get to campus quickly. I transitioned more to coaching students in evangelism in these years, meeting up to share on campus or coming alongside someone leading an IBD. These were more one-time events than a standing commitment. I almost always started one of these times asking the student I was paired up with, “Are you nervous?” She’d say, “yes,” perhaps a bit timidly. “Me too!” I would reply. Yet these always seemed to be such sweet times of seeing not only how the Lord could move in a seemingly random conversation but also in the heart of the student leader I was sharing alongside. Again, I loved it after someone agreed to hear our illustration, but the initiating conversations with strangers was often nerve-wracking!
Now in my full-time-mom-of-five years, I am finding that evangelism looks a lot different. We live further away from campus. Even with a sitter, late nights on campus just don’t work right now because I can’t do regular late nights–I will have littles up early the next morning! BUT, the Lord still has opportunities for sharing Christ all around me.
Five of these opportunities sleep under my roof. Even though my older four children have professed belief in Christ, I see their faith as tender and vulnerable seedlings. I want to nourish their soil and protect those seedlings and nurture their faith. And I’m grateful to be home with them to do that!
I’ve found our neighborhood to be full of opportunities as well. When we moved into our house six years ago, I started a note in my phone of people’s names and house numbers. (I can be terrible at remembering names!) We used leftover BBQ from a student event to have our neighbors over. Many of our neighbors had lived on the same street for 15+ years and never once gotten together. But they seemed eager for friendship.
All this to say, I’m learning to keep my “laborer” hat on when I’m working in the yard or walking the neighborhood with the kids. I’m learning that just like campus, evangelism will take some initiative. We are praying for and inviting two specific families over for meals regularly. At Easter we had a backyard potluck (so nice when guests have kitchens and can contribute!) Our kids, of their own initiative, read a story about Easter to their friends, and Dave passed out a copy of his testimony to each family. This summer we used our ministry projector and sound system to host a backyard movie night. We can’t do things like this during fall launch, but in the “off-season” we love it.
Evangelism seems to be a slower process off campus but is still full of relationship building and seed sowing. Yet again, I am finding that I need courage to step past the social norms of conversation to ask spiritual questions and share my faith. Even with all the growth I’ve experienced in my identity in Christ, I still wrestle to die to myself and speak about Jesus with my neighbors.
Sometimes I wonder, will I ever not need courage in evangelism? I think I will always need it, because my need for courage pushes me to the Lord and helps me relate to our student friends who need courage in evangelism, too. Though I’m not on campus side-by side with them, by sharing with them the ways I continue to engage in evangelism at home and among neighbors, I pray the Lord gives them a picture of what this could look like in their own lives post-college.
Whatever stage you are in, wherever the Lord has you, I pray He will show you where He’s working around you and give you opportunities to share in spite of fear and full of courage.
“And don’t forget to pray for me. Pray that I’ll know what to say and have the courage to say it at the right time, telling the mystery to one and all, the Message that I… am responsible for getting out.” Ephesians 6:19-20 Message
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career in 2005 (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and currently lead the NavCity and collegiate work in Nashville. They have 5 children: Kate (10), Kylie (9), McKenzie (7), Daniel (6), and Andrew (2). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.