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Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Witnessing To An Unbeliever In The Family

For a Christian there's little more painful than a family member whose turned their back on God. Recently a christian blogger watched as his daughter posted a screed on the internet about how God and her father ruined her life and now she's an atheist. The cause for her life being a shambles? She was uncomfortable fornicating with random hookups in college knowing that she was sinning. Her fix was to dump God and Dad. No more God, no more sin. She can now joyfully put herself at risk for debilitating venereal disease and perform human sacrifice abort unwanted babies all she wants secure in the notion that when she did away with God she did away with hell too. How does a father deal with that?

I've heard it said that families are God's way of teaching us to love people we normally wouldn't give the time of day. Family members can be a great source of love or a tremendous source of exasperation. You can tell your brother a thousand times over that the world is round and he'd laugh in your face, but one of his buddies at the gym will say the same thing and his response will be "You don't say! I never knew that." This is just the way peoples minds work, but accepting that, how do you witness to a family member? 


Dr. Larry Moyer of EvanTell wrote a great article in the magazine of the Dallas Theological Seminary about talking to relatives about spiritual things. He offers two suggestions: Pray for intervention and write a letter. Start by asking God to send someone in addition to you to speak to them. Not instead of you, in addition to you. As I mentioned in the previous paragraph, sometimes someone outside of the family, someone with a little distance from the situation, can make a breakthrough with ease. Beg God to send someone to help, someone that can break the logjam in your relatives heart. 

You may be saying "My relative has no believers around him/her to witness to him/her. Fear not, God is still on the throne, he made the universe, he can find someone in your sister's neighborhood to speak to her. Don't rush things either, God has an exquisite sense of timing. Remember John Newton - former slave trader who was saved and became a preacher. For years he never spoke about the horrors of slavery until God put him in a time and a place where the message of abolition would reach the ears of members of parliament. Thanks to John Newton's sermons slavery was abolished in the British Empire. 

Had John started off his ministry with an anti-slavery message it would have fallen on deaf ears, he was far from the seat of power and God had just started moving people's hearts away from slavery in England. God's message through John Newton freed the slaves in Britain and her colonies, but spread like a fire through the US too. If God can eradicate slavery by putting the right people in the right place, He will put someone in the right place at the right time to put a chink in the wall around your relative's heart.

And when you witness to a relative, don't just talk. A conversation can go in one ear and out the other. Salient points that the Holy Spirit made through you can be forgotten in time, which is why Step #2 is to write a letter. It worked for Paul.

This isn't just a "Hi Dave, How ya doin'?" letter, this has to be special. It can't be summed up on one page, use 10 if you're going to use 1. This letter will take a long time to write, dont' expect it to be finished in one evening. Pray to God about opening your heart to your relative, and when He moves you to sit down and write firstly hand write the letter, hand written letters always attract the most attention, but also make sure you include these things;

1. Confess - address any unresolved issues. Put all unwanted baggage on the table and deal with it. You don't want any errant emotional road blocks hindering this letter.

2. Compliment - This is to your relative, not your insurance broker. Thank them for what they mean to you. Do you have any pleasant memories from your past that warms your heart? Bring them up and tell them. Thank them for past kindnesses.

3. Cross - Explain the way of salvation as if you were face to face. Don't enclose a tract, they'll toss it aside and read your letter. Make the Gospel clear: 1) we come to God as sinners, explain exactly what sin is and how sin cannot come into the presence of God. 2) Jesus Christ died for us, paid the penalty for our sins, and rose  from the dead. 3) We must trust in Christ alone to save us. Use illustrations like someone paying a legal fine you didn't know you had to explain substitution, or trusting in a pilot to explain faith. Most important, show that eternal life is a free gift, son something they can work for or earn because that would be impossible. 

4. Concern - Explain to them “What does all that mean if we are not together in heaven? The one person I want with me in heaven is you.”

Pray and have faith in God, he will use your words, along with that someone else you prayed for, to reach out to your relative. Watch carefully how the situation evolves and assess the situation spiritually, you'll be amazed at how the Holy Spirit works. 

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