Evy* spent 29 years serving with Resonate Global Mission among the Fulani, a people group in West Africa who come mostly from a Muslim background. Now, she’s back in the suburbs of Chicago.
City life is drastically different from her rural ministry, but she said sharing the gospel with her suburban neighbors won’t be so different. There’s a lot that North Americans can learn from ministry among the Fulani. Resonate asked Evy to share some tips:
1. Know Your Faith
“You don’t need to have gone to big workshops or have a degree from a seminary to be able to talk about your faith in Jesus,” said Evy.
You don’t have to know all of the answers to questions about the Bible, theology, and Christianity in order to share your faith (that’s impossible). But you do need to know your faith and your own testimony. Make sure you’re spending time with God, praying, and studying Scripture.
“You better believe what you’re saying,” said Evy. “If you really believe it, you want to share it. What we have is like a pearl of great price.”
2. Get Outside of Your Comfort Zone
“Are we willing to talk with people?” asks Evy. “Are we willing to take the time to get to know our neighbors?”
Step outside of your home. Take walks in your neighborhood or spend time at a favorite park or coffee shop. Greet people or wave to them when you pass by. Strike up conversations with people and think of ways you can bring your conversations past “hello.” Because of the coronavirus pandemic, it might look a little different: calling people, writing notes, shoveling snow from driveways, helping with yard work, and more. It’s a process, and there aren’t any “right” ways to do it. In fact, it can require creativity and courage.
If you’re interested in exploring how you can connect with your neighbors and share your faith, check out Resonate’s Joining God in the Neighborhood. The online cohort invites you into a process where you can discern where and how God is at work in your community—so you can join the Holy Spirit in that work, even in the midst of COVID-19.
3. Invest in Relationships
Focus on the friendships. When Evy was serving among the Fulani, she moved into their village. She spent many afternoons drinking tea, weaving mats, and talking with women who became her close friends. She celebrated with women when they gave birthand she was there for her friends when they got sick or lost loved ones.
“Spend more time with your neighbors and in your neighborhood,” said Evy.
If you hear a neighbor is feeling sick, check in on them and maybe drop off some soup. Bake people cookies. Attend community events. You know how to be a good friend, parent, sibling, or child. Extend that same grace to your neighbors.
4. Be Patient
It can take a long time for someone to accept Christ, especially when that person isn’t familiar with Christianity or spirituality. In West Africa, it took 10 years before Evy saw someone decide to follow Jesus. It can take a long time in North America, too. Many people still might think of Canada and the United States as Christian nations, but more and more people are identifying as religious “nones.” Some people aren’t familiar with Christianity or spirituality.
“I think sometimes when we’re sharing the gospel, we expect people to go from point A to point B, but in between there are all these subpoints,” said Evy. “Think about bringing people a little closer to knowing Jesus.”
Make sure you check your heart and motivations: Do you really care about this person? Are you willing to still be friends with someone even if they don’t share your faith?
5. Know that It’s God’s Work
It’s baffling at times, but God chooses to work with us to share the gospel and renew his creation. That should give us hope.
“It’s really God’s work from the beginning to the end,” said Evy. “I get to work alongside the Lord … there are many things I can’t see in the future but God can. He has perfect vision.”
Trust that God is at work even when you may not be able to see it. Evy said to focus on how you can listen to the Holy Spirit moment by moment as you build relationships with people: “It’s just little bit by little bit bringing them along and trusting that the Holy Spirit is the one who is doing the real work.”
*We cannot share Evy's last name due to security concerns