“He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Please give me a drink.’ He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.” The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?’ Jesus replied, ‘If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.’” John 4:4-10
Though most of our personal evangelism probably happens in the context of some kind of relationship (friend, family member, co-worker, neighbor, classmate, teammate, etc.), there are countless opportunities we have throughout our lives to engage complete strangers with the good news, just like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman in John 4.
To miss those opportunities is to miss the hand of God in our everyday lives. I believe that he is constantly orchestrating “accidental” moments where intentional Gospel conversations can take place.
After the woman at the well went back to town to proclaim her newfound faith in Christ, he told his astounded disciples (a rabbi would never talk to a woman in this culture, let alone a Samaritan woman like Jesus did), “You know the saying, ‘Four months between planting and harvest.’ But I say, wake up and look around. The fields are already ripe for harvest” (John 4:35). In the same way, we must wake up and look around to see the ripe harvest field around us every day … at the coffee shop we frequent, in the grocery store we shop at, at the baseball game we’re watching, etc.
I decided to get even more intentional about it last Sunday. I took a small group of teenagers and a few other adults to a large shopping mall in the area last Sunday afternoon. We went there praying that God would open up Gospel conversions with complete strangers in the time we were there. And boy, did he ever! Between us we engaged in at least 30 conversations! Many of these were deep and meaningful, and I believe truly made an impact.
One of the teenagers I took was my own 14-year-old son Jeremy. My boy goes to a Christian school and has already engaged all of his neighborhood friends with the message of Jesus. I’m about to allow him to get on Facebook so he can start cultivating online Gospel conversations. But, taking him and a handful of his friends out to the mall a few days ago reminded me of the hidden blessings of sharing the good news with complete strangers.
One of the biggest blessings is that it reminds you of the power of the Gospel. Romans 1:16 tells us, “I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”
The Gospel is like a grenade. It doesn’t matter who pulls the pin … it’s gonna blow up! There’s something inherently powerful about the message of Jesus, so much so that most of the evangelism you read about in the New Testament centers around Jesus and the disciples reaching complete strangers with the good news. These are people they bumped into along the way. They were fisherman, tax collectors, everyday Joes and Jolenes who needed that message of hope.