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01- Incorporating Evangelism into Your Life

Lisa Topete Shauna Chung

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Our first podcast features Shauna Chung in conversation with Lisa Topete as they discuss incorporating evangelism into your life interests and work. In a direct, down-to-earth fashion, Lisa shares how you can get started with outreach, even when you’re not sure how to begin. Scattered throughout are personal stories, advice, and practical ideas that are immediately relevant to anyone seeking to deepen their experience. We have been blessed as we have prepared this podcast and we know you will be too!

Recorded

  • January 15, 2018
    10:00 AM

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One of the most quoted Bible verses in Christianity is Matthew 28:19-20 – “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit” - The Great Commission. You've probably heard it a million times; but what does this actually look like in practice? Is it all about glow tracks and Bible studies and proselytizing on city streets? Do you have to be a certain type of person to evangelize? In this episode we explore these ideas with Lisa Topete. She grew up in a Pentecostal home and at the age of 19 heard about the Seventh Day Adventist Church. This marked a profound shift in her life and also catalyzed her love for sharing Jesus with others. Since then, she's been involved with everything from literature evangelism to church planting and as a result has gained such a unique and nuanced perspective, one that you might not readily expect. So let's listen in on a conversation I had with her in a very echoey room, I might add at the GYC conference in 2017.

 

(Shauna) Thank you so much Lisa for being here today and for talking about this topic. So what is your relationship to evangelism?

 

(Lisa) Wow. My relationship to evangelism. I would say, instead of it being like a relationship, it's more just who I am. I think it's often segregated so strongly that we miss the heart of what evangelism is about because we put it into categories like this is evangelism, this is Lisa, rather Lisa is that and evangelism is Lisa. So that's my, my thoughts.

 

(Shauna) So what is evangelism? How would you even begin to define it?

 

(Lisa) To define it, you know, I know there's a typical definition as I was thinking about this. The philosophy, I would say, of my life: to bring myself by the grace of God into the most intimate relationship that I can with Him; the depth of it being a really personal relationship and the output, after there is that input is, is natural - it's to share, it's to want to express the things that I've been learning. And so evangelism is just the natural output of what's been inputted from a constant connection or relationship with Christ.

 

(Shauna) And what has that look like in your life personally?

 

(Lisa) As far as the relationship with Christ, daily - it can vary; but mostly choosing each day, to say, this is “you're the God I wanna get to know more.” God is past fully knowing all in one, one lifetime even; but the little I have come to know about God through studying the Bible, through getting insight from other people on their views of the world whether it be a Christian worldview or not, has so deep in my walk with Christ that I can't believe that it can just go to different levels as, as the years that gone by. So to make it more practical, daily, of course, spending time in the Word of God, in the Bible, Kay, is something that has become more just a part of my, my life as well as communion and fellowship with other Christians. You know, I think community under, under mind that for a long time; but community really plays into that part of a daily relationship with Him.

 

(Shauna) I love what you're saying because I think a lot of times people think of evangelism is we always have to give, give, give to something or we have to conquer, conquer, conquer, you know that type of thing; but it seems like your, your approach to this is work on yourself first.

 

(Lisa) Yeah. You know, and it is. I think that it can fall into the danger of “I'm gonna work so much on myself that I forget that it's almost as soon as I receive, I give.” You know there's a natural thing; but you're right, there can be the aggressive types of evangelism and I would say, I would probably have people who don't know me and who meet me would classify me in that category – overaggressive in evangelism. But more than that, recognizing that there have been times where I have felt largely inadequate to share about Christ, in about I would say, all the time. I mostly think it's not, I'm not capable or not ready and so it's kind of been a part of the faith journey to say, you know what, the little that I do know, I want to, I want someone else to know. It’s worth knowing, and so you share.

 

(Shauna) Right. But to come to that level of being comfortable to share with the information that you've gained, how, how did you overcome, I guess, the fear of just starting?

 

(Lisa) I haven't. I think, I'll be honest. You know that to say that each time I share, whether in a public forum or private, when I mean, I'll be really candid, I feel so nauseous every single time and there's a lot of surface understanding of who I am. “Maybe she speaks, she must, it must be a natural thing for her.” I would say, the natural disposition of most of humanity is not to give. Whether you're Christian or not, it's to preserve yourself, preserve your life; so, I'm a human. I would say I haven't overcome the fear of, of necessarily sharing; but, the sweetness in sharing is greater than that fear. The experiences I've had in sharing; and sure the first one was wooh, then I got another experience. And the more I shared, the more that experience of sharing and the satisfaction that does come with sharing, overwhelmed the fear.

 

(Shauna) Let's talk about those experiences that you wrestled with.

 

(Lisa) Ok. Sure.

 

(Shauna) So, I think a lot of times people think that an experience with evangelism looks something like putting a soapbox down on the ground or just kind of professing on a college campus or is going to at your door or that's the extent of evangelism or it's glowing or something like that. So, what, what do these experiences look like to you and how do you think, I guess, people can plug into various types of evangelism?

 

(Lisa) Sure. Evangelism, like I said, is more of a lifestyle, a relationship and the natural output of that relationship with Christ is that you share in any platform. If God share, inspired someone to set up a soapbox and start preaching the Word, please do that. I personally have not been inspired that way in the middle of a subway. I have a friend who did it.

 

(Shauna) Wow.

 

(Lisa) Yeah. In cognito. Yes. Yes. I'll be a little more subtle sometimes but, you know, who am I to say that that person wasn't led by the Spirit of God. So, I don't want to swing to one side and say that those forms of evangelism are cliché or maybe not as valuable. Yet there's the other extreme where you don't look at the fact that I consistently smile at the cashier in the grocery store and don't see that evangelism. You know, that is. I've had phenomenal experiences where I'm just consistent in my friendship toward somebody and then they ask me about my beliefs or my faith. The hard part with that form of evangelism, I would say, friendship evangelism, however people want to classify it, is really knowing who you are in Christ. Because if you don't, it's easy to be swayed by whomever you're surrounded with, so I think that's after my people have looked down on those forms of evangelism or had the stereotype of being maybe soft or shallow if you will; but it really does come down to again your relationship with Christ and the natural output of that could be soapbox preaching or it could be opening the door for somebody when you're on your way into a grocery store.

 

(Shauna) Great. That’s awesome. Evangelism looks like many things. And to, I guess, classify them as the best or the worst, it's doing a disservice to everybody's, I guess, personal walk with God. The next question that I want to ask you, it's something that I'm personally interested as well just because I'm going to a secular university, and I think a lot of times, people who are religiously affiliated, they see everybody that doesn't necessarily adhere to their belief system as another.

(Lisa) Ok.

 

(Shauna) And that's so unfortunate because we all exist in the same world, you know.

 

(Lisa) Right, right.

 

(Shauna) We all feel the same kind of pain and pleasure and things like that, so how do you go into these, these environments, I guess, yeah, how do you go into these environments?

 

(Lisa) How you go into… So, basically, an environment that maybe not be as safe around many people who you associate yourself to be like. Ok.

 

(Shauna)  Cause you look at the commonality visits; we need to fear, we need to guard, we need to protect, and while I think that those are valid reactions, I can understand why those would be, I guess, words of advice, a lot of times it seems like it just ends up in “othering” people.

 

(Lisa) Ok.

 

(Shauna) And seeing them as more objects to conquer than as humans, you know.

 

(Lisa) Right. There's the verse to, “to be in the world but not of the world” and I think you're right, the fear of associating with maybe other non-Adventist or non-Christians is that “you're gonna become like them” and if that is the fear whoever may have that fear my first question to them is really you, you aren't certain in your relationship with Christ.

 

Do I encourage you to go to the clubs and bars and convert the masses, probably not; “Take heed,” right? “Lest ye fall.” But I would say, for example, I was raised in a non-Adventist environment and becoming Adventist, I was certain that God with not calling me to forget those people. And with that certainty in mind, I also had to learn the balance of “Do I really, am I really convinced on what I believe? Like who I am in Christ? Am I truly certain, in my mind, that, that this is the way and if not, it's easy to be moved, very easy to be moved.

 

So bring me around to your question again, secular, there it is. So, secular environments or non-Adventist campuses, what do you do? As simple as this may sound, I would, I would be nice, you know, there is no stronger argument than a loving and lovable Christian.

You can love someone and disagree with them. I mean, I've been studying the Bible for over two years with a homosexual couple, that's been married over 21 years and we, we, disagree; but guess what, we're really good friends. He came to my wedding. We’re, we're very close; but we have gone through clear differences; but learning what it is to lovingly disagree. And if you're so frightened that they're gonna corrupt you, if you will, then you have to take a second and say, “How certain am I in this relationship with Christ, am I? Because that uncertainty will breed fear. But when I can say, you know, without a shadow of a doubt, I believe in this Christ, I believe in this Bible, not much can shake belief.

 

(Shauna) Yeah. I like the fact that you're kind of alluding to this, this idea of reciprocity. It's “I'm not just sharing but I'm willing to hear your perspective.”

 

(Lisa) Oh yeah.

 

(Shauna) And I'm willing to dialogue with you and become friends with you, not for the intention of converting you, or baptizing you, or bringing you into the church; but just recognizing that you're human, I’m human, and we're just sharing this experience together. And I happen to have a perspective that I would like to share with you.

 

(Lisa) Yeah. I think that, you know, I can genuinely say that even though I know where I stand and what I believe, there's a lot of room for me to grow. And I think, it's scary, Right.  If you stop growing, you stop living. And beyond that, though, being unashamed of who you are, secure in the fact that “Hey, I am a Bible-loving, Ellen White-reading Seventh Day Adventist.” Believe it.  Ok, you know.

 

And recognizing that, “Hey, more than just these labels that I may ascribe to, there's a depth in my relationship with Jesus and the outward engine is the church that I'm a part of. And that is, is without contest, people can't argue an experience that is genuine and so true.

 

(Shauna) So what would you say to the people who are desiring to evangelize or just to be involved in ministry in some way; but they're either with a local church or maybe their environment doesn't have any resources available to them or any kind of program, I hate to use the word program.

 

(Lisa) Yeah. Ok.

 

(Shauna) But just any kind of support.

 

(Lisa) Sure

 

(Shauna) …for that type of ministry. What would you recommend?

 

(Lisa) So, like a dead local church. What do I do? Ok. I think, the first step is praying. Don't underestimate the power of praying for someone like a mentor to come into your life, for a revival in your church, I mean, you know, the Welsh revival was on account of one man, bar shut down, then the entire country was converted. I mean, that all started with prayer. Beyond that, what do I do? I would say this, most people are just looking for excuses not to be involved in the church and the more you look for those excuses, guess what? You're gonna find them. And I would say, coming into the Adventist Church, I knew not a single soul. I didn't know anybody and I went to a church where I knew nobody; but I found out that people put glow on cars. It was like, “oh, I read a glow in tract and I was like “oh, this is like really good stuff” and so guess what I did. I went to the mall parking; I and I avoided all human contact and just stock them on tours. Yeah, I’m very serious. And I run back to my car and drive away and go home.

 

And, you know, so the point being, you can find ways. When I meet a young person, it’s like “I just can't do anything, my church is dead.” I have Google in the palm of my hand. What are some evangelism ideas? What it comes down to is, when I've received that that intimate love relationship with Christ, seeing “man, what Christ has given me,” it's a little easier to give back. The How’s are not as complicated as the beginning. The How isn't as complicated as the Why I'm doing it.

 

How do I do evangelism? Well, more on why are you doing? Is this an obligation or is this a reaction to how intimate my relationship has been with Christ? I am by no means arrived. I would just say that I have found evangelism much easier when I have first realized all that that Christ has done for me. It, I mean, it makes that mountains easier and often find my mind, I mean, I'm a literature evangelist, I go door to door all the time, I find myself like, every single time like “I have to go” and it’s like “wait a second, wait a second.” More than just “Oh I have to go out,” “Why am I going out? “How am I going to make it through this day?” No, “Why am I making it through this day?” I really think it changes the perspective on, on even how I find modes of evangelism.

 

To answer the bottom line question, how do I as a person in a local church that is inactive get involved? I would say, number 1, pray. Number 2, seek someone in the church. There is always somebody in the church, who is an elder, who has a heart for learning how to share, find them. Be proactive. It, to sit back passively is, is by no means an excuse to not do some method of reaching out, especially if you have received this precious love of Christ. So if I received, I know that I can find a way to go out. Does that answer it?

 

(Shauna) Yeah.

 

(Lisa) Ok.

 

(Shauna) And I like how relieving this kind of open, we're not saying you need to go into literature evangelism.

 

(Lisa) No.

 

(Shauna) We are saying, we need to glow all the time or leaving it, I guess to the individual to choose to just kind of have, or feel empowered to find the avenue that works best for them and for their community.

 

(Lisa) I do think literature evangelism is a great.

 

(Shauna) Shameless plug.

 (Laugh)

(Lisa) Shameless plug, yeah. More than just the shameless plug, recognizing that you're gonna be uncomfortable.

 

(Shauna) Right.

 

(Lisa) You can't be like “I am a Christian now; evangelism is gonna be the most comfortable thing I've ever done in my life.” I mean, giving your life to Christ is a decision, to share Christ is the decision and with each one that you make, you really do see the power of God. There is nothing. Someone asked me, “Lisa, what is it like to see someone come to the Lord?” Now it’s like, thinking about it, it's addicting. It is so addicting like beyond anything I've ever been involved with, beyond the days when I would party, beyond all of that, it is the single most addicting thing - to see someone come to a place where they recognize that they have so much meaning, so much purpose in Christ. “Ah” I tell someone, “You do it once, you're hooked, you're that;” but, the devil, I really believe, will do anything he can to keep people from experiencing that. And so again, the input of my relationship with Christ creates a natural output and that natural output is input.

 

(Shauna) Yeah.

 

(Lisa) And it just, it’s a cycle of, of growth, in the end.

 

(Shauna) Yeah. Maybe that's where we should leave it and just encourage listeners to, I guess, figure out what it is that is being inputted, you know.

 

(Lisa) Where are you spending your time, you know?

 

(Shauna) Yeah.

 

(Lisa) What is, what has most of my attention? Where are my affections? Those are simple questions; but your thoughts, your actions, your choices make up who you are and in the end, the safest place is to give your heart to Christ. Like I said, the philosophy of my life and I'm totally taking a quote from an Ellen White devotional is that the deepest truth philosophy of my life is to bring myself into an intimate relationship, relationship with Christ and everything fall into its train. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.  He’s a God who loves us and when you taste that, it's easy to share.

 

(Shauna) Thank you so much Lisa.

 

(Lisa) I’m happy to be here.

 

(Shauna) Special thanks to Lisa for sharing her many insights on evangelism. I hope you, dear listener, have been challenged to reflect on your input to consider how you might output that to the world.

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