How to Share the Gospel While Travelling Less Than 1 Kilometer
How can I know Jesus is the Son of God? How can I trust the Bible?
It is questions like these that 30-year-old Cynthia, and many others, found themselves asking GEM global workers in France as they gathered together virtually. Long-time global workers Jay and Nancy Matsinger have found that the simplicity of reading Scripture with inquiring minds holds a unique attractiveness. Throughout the pandemic, God is drawing people close to himself by using the simplest and oldest of methods: human relationships.
Prague is not known for a large faithful community of Christians. Jay notes that most Czechs are raised atheist and “taught from before kindergarten to be against God” lacking even basic biblical knowledge despite the surrounding imagery. It is no secret that 2020 was full of disruptions. Life as we know it fundamentally changed and we are still in the middle of a tragic pandemic. A sense of community disappeared as we were confined to our homes. Like Cynthia, many global workers started asking questions since traditional outreach practices were suddenly challenged by changing circumstances. How do I share the gospel now? When will this end? Can I really stay connected with anyone? Is meeting online even making a difference?
Because both Jay and Nancy are in high-risk categories for Covid-19, meeting online became their reality. And it is working! Digital media has allowed them to reconnect with old contacts like Cynthia and maintain discovery Bible studies and English conversation classes, a method they believe works because it is simple, low-key, and reproducible. One woman “started her own group when she saw that it could be done online,” says Nancy. Sometimes it’s reading a passage from Scripture, sometimes it’s reading a thought-provoking article or C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia or other powerful stories. These groups are supplying community and fellowship in an otherwise social vacuum. For some members these are their only opportunities for fellowship.
Cynthia first met the Matsingers through an English group they facilitated, and even though she had heard the gospel before, it wasn’t until then that she experienced the love of God herself. Or consider Sharon*, a former actress from Singapore who after coming to Prague to get into theatre, found a deepening relationship with Jesus instead, and is now growing in her witness and ministry to others while also considering full-time ministry.
For Jay and Nancy, online outreach is about remaining faithful and trusting God. Like the parable of the sower not all the seed grows strong. The Matsingers have wept for those who have been choked out or fallen away, especially when it looks hopeful. But as Jay observes, “It’s not over, we know God can do things, and so we still pray for them.”
“He gives us just enough encouragement to keep us going. It is the middle of the story; we don’t know the end,” remarks Nancy filled with hope.
According to Jay, the typical, rote gospel presentation just doesn’t work. Most atheistic Czechs and internationals end the conversation when they sense a sales pitch. But in the Matsingers’ experience sharing stories of God at work in their lives and the world around them is an open window into new relationships. Adapting their groups to meet online has not changed that, as they have discovered opportunities to meaningfully share stories and cultivate relationships still exist, even if it is screen to screen.
*Name changed for privacy
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About the author:
Zachary McKay is a storyteller with Greater Europe Mission and serves in Frankfurt, Germany.