A memorable encounter
A few years ago, I had an encounter that changed the way I share my faith. I was leaving St Stephen’s Church in East Twickenham after a Sunday Service, when an elderly man, whom I have never met before, came up to me and said “You’re going to Heaven because someone cared enough to tell you about Christ. Who have you cared enough to tell? Who are you taking to Heaven with you?” I was a little stunned because of his directness. I had never met him and yet he looked me in the eye as if he knew me. I looked around, wondering if he meant to ask someone else. In the pregnant pause it took me to respond, he was gone. I saw him walk into the crowd and have never seen him again.
Time for share and prayer
Until that moment I had ignored messages from the pulpit about sharing my faith. That was the job of evangelists. I had always thought that just seeing the way that I live my life, that friends and family would become Christians. But who was I kidding? Over the days and months after the encounter with the old man, I could not shrug off the thought that I needed to share my faith more openly with my non-Christian friends and family and I needed to start praying for them to come to faith.
A mugful of love
Now I do. By my bedside I have lollipop sticks with people’s names written on, and every night I randomly select a stick and pray. I started off with 5 people and it has grown from there. I encourage you to write down the names of five people. They may be friends, family, or people you work with. They are people you love and care about.
In a month’s time I will be celebrating Pentecost Sunday in Trafalgar Square with Thy Kingdom Come. It is our dream that it will be one giant birthday celebration of the church, an explosion of colour and sound, a rushing of wind and fire with powerful Gospel preaching (Acts 2), bright, thankful, joyous music (Ephesians 5:18-20), grateful praises for the hope of eternal life and renewal of all creation, beginning with our own lives (Romans 8), earnest prayers and creative, self-denying efforts for assisting the needy with Spirit-inspired love (Acts 4:32-35). And I will also be celebrating that since I started to pray friends and family, some have come to faith.
The 11-day focus for prayer between Ascension Day and Pentecost (in 2019, 30 May to 9 June) is helpful in concentrating prayer. Marking the period between the celebrations of the Ascension of the Lord Jesus and the gift of the Holy Spirit with prayer is very appropriate and enables me to recognise these two significant dates in our Christian year.
So, take the challenge. Write down the names of five people. At Thy Kingdom Come we say five because it’s a manageable number – it doesn’t have to be five it could be one, it could be three.
If you’re not sure who to pray for, have a think. Are you a God-parent, do you have a friend, a neighbour, someone you know who you really care for and would love to see in a relationship with Christ?
It does start with prayer, everything starts with prayer, we cannot do anything on our own – but God can open hearts and minds and give us the most amazing opportunities to share our faith.
Have you written those five names yet?
Lisa Mainwaring, Thy Kingdom Come