Answer 1: The Spirit helps you recognise opportunities to share Christ with people.
I enjoy playing video games on the computer with my kids. We team up to battle other teams of people from around the world. When we don’t have enough people to make up a team of five, the game assigns us random teammates that match our skill levels. Often there is good chat and banter among the teammates as we play.
One day I really enjoyed chatting with one of my random teammates whose gaming name is “Axes” (changed). He friended me after the game, and I friended him back so we would see when each other was online and could team up. Over time we played several games and started chatting via keyboard in between games too. Eventually he joined in games where my kids were playing also and was amazed to find out that I was not young like him. If I slew someone in a game, he would let them know, “You just got taken out by a man in his fifties!”
We found out that Axes was studying at university right here in Sydney as an international student. A couple of months ago, Axes and several of my kids met up for lunch at the mall in Chatswood and really enjoyed meeting each other in person. Axes was disappointed that I couldn’t be there. So a couple of weeks ago we met with him again and this time I was there. We got off the metro and headed to the restaurant. As soon as we arrived, Axes (yes, we call him by his gamer tag even in real life) knew which person was me. He walked up to me and put his arms around me in a long, warm hug.
Over lunch, I asked Axes to share his story with us. “What made you decide to come to Australia to study?” Without hesitation he answered, “To get away from my family.” Axes trusts us and was opening up to us about pain in his life.
The Apostle Paul asked the Colossians to pray that God would give him opportunities to share Christ with people who were in prison with him: “And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” (Colossians 4:3-4).
Paul goes on to then challenge the Colossians to look for those opportunities in their own lives to share Christ with those around them:
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:5-6).
When you say to God, as I have been in recent days, “Please give me opportunities to share what it means to know you with others around me,” you can be sure that God will create those opportunities for meaningful conversations that go deeper than the surface and point to our need for God and a relationship with Jesus. You can also be sure that God wants you to notice those opportunities.
It’s the Holy Spirit who makes you suddenly alert that an encounter you have with someone just turned into a redemptive conversation!
When Axes said that he decided to study in Australia “to get away from my family”, I was instantly aware that this was God opening a door for my witness. I asked him why he wanted to get away from his family and he shared that his parents were super controlling about his every move. He returns home in a couple of months and said he will be “back in the bird cage”.
As the conversation moved on Axes, interested to hear more about my life, asked me about what I do. When I shared that I coach church leadership teams in how to share their relationship with Jesus more effectively with people outside the church, Axes commented that his sister followed him to study in the same Australian university he goes to and that she has become a Christian while at university. She is nervous about how to tell their Buddhist parents about her new faith. He told her it’s good for her to be into whatever she wants.
This gave me the chance to share with him that God has made us for a relationship with him and that our lives will never work how God designed them unless we have that relationship with him that comes through Jesus. It’s not just something we are ‘into’; it’s necessary for life.
Both we and Axes are eager to meet up again before he heads back overseas and I hope his sister is able to join us as well. I want to encourage her about her conversation with her parents and hope that will give a basis for more gospel conversations with Axes too.
I’m thankful that God gave me that opportunity for meaningful conversation with Axes on that day and that the Holy Spirit made me aware that it was an opportunity to speak with him about Jesus.
Ask the Spirit to sensitise you also about the opportunities he places in your encounters with the people around you!