“You just want me to believe what you believe,” she accused. “I don’t want to ever hear anything else about Jesus or God.”
“OK, Mom, I’ll cool it for now,” I responded, although I knew I’d never stop praying and trying to find new ways to help her listen and understand the Good News of Jesus. I couldn’t help but end the conversation with: “But just so you know, I’m not giving up, because I love you.”
WHEN THEY DON’T WANT TO HEAR
What do you do when someone you care about just isn’t ready to accept or even interested in discussing the Gospel? Sometimes it feels hopeless, and we can easily convince ourselves to give up. But Jesus has sent us on a mission, just as He did Paul, with these words:
I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.Acts 26:17b-18
Keeping this exhortation from Paul in mind—and knowing that my mom had a difficult childhood, was racked with guilt over her addictions and past, and wasn’t living a very healthy life—moved me with compassion to help her understand a better way: the Jesus way.
But after several long years of prayers and conversations, it seemed I was just making her more and more angry, as she stubbornly put up a wall against considering any of the Gospel message. The day she asked me to stop talking to her about Jesus, I resolved to give her some time, but at the same time the Holy Spirit gave me an even stronger determination to pray relentlessly for her soul and, in time, to approach the subject again.
Don’t misunderstand—I was discouraged. Evangelism is hard. Trust me, I was wrestling with God about all kinds of grief, questions, and fear concerning my mom. I desperately wanted her to know the hope of Jesus in this life and for all of eternity. And there had been moments where I could tell she was considering the message I had shared, but she just couldn’t seem to accept that she was worthy of His love.
Is there someone in your life who, despite the most fervent prayers, the most well-thought-out caring methods, or the best-crafted approach to sharing, still resists the Good News of Jesus? Although nothing gives us a guarantee, I’ve found that faithfully going back through the Prayer – Care – Share method is key to remaining hopeful and diligent with those I love who are resistant to the Gospel.
WHEN GOD MOVES
A few years after my mom demanded I stop sharing Jesus with her, she surprised me by declaring that she’d decided something. With attentive ears, I sat up straight as she explained with firm resolve in her eyes that she had decided that right before she died she would put her trust in Jesus. I was flabbergasted, shocked, overjoyed, and frustrated, all at the same time!
I tried to help her see the obvious downsides to waiting. She’d miss all that Jesus offered her right now: freedom, hope, love, and more. Not to mention, we don’t often get a warning before we die. She gave me a look that made it clear her decision was made, and I left sort of encouraged, but still concerned. When I explained it to my pastor, he said basically she had already accepted Christ but just was resisting obedience. I wasn’t fully convinced, but I had a little more comfort.
A few months later, I got a shocking call that mom was on life support. I drove to her as fast as I could, and although she’d been completely unresponsive to my dad, when I held her hand and asked if she could hear me, she gave a gentle squeeze. I told her now was the time—she couldn’t wait any longer, because the doctors said it didn’t look good, so she needed to put her trust in Jesus.
I asked if she was willing to finally do that, and she gave me a big, solid squeeze with her hand and even a bit of a smile under the oxygen mask. The Holy Spirit flooded my heart with reassurance, as I spent the next hour praying with her. A few hours later, she went to Heaven to meet the Savior she had trusted in just moments before.
WHEN YOU’RE WAITING
I’m so thankful for every frustrating moment we had and for every time God graciously encouraged me to keep talking, to keep sharing, to keep praying, to not give up. It was hard, but I smile knowing her eternity is sealed and she’s living with Him in freedom and joy.
The reality is that sometimes conversations won’t go well. You’ll likely have people in your life who stubbornly refuse to hear the truth, who misunderstand your heart. God may move you to try a different faith-sharing style in these cases. Regardless, I pray you’ll eventually be blown away by how God moves in and through faithful long-term evangelizing and that you’ll remain steadfast, as Paul encouraged the Corinthians to do:
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.1 Corinthians 15:58