An interesting thing about Australia is the big cities are filled with immigrants from other Countries so you won’t see many “true blue Aussies” with the authentic Australian accent. This results in people who do know the English language, but struggle using it in everyday conversation since there are many who speak their own language (they end up speaking it most of the time). To remedy this some of the local libraries started something called a Conversational English Group were people could simply come and practice their English speaking skills for an hour and a half.
Attending this group as a volunteer wasn’t really all that hard…sharing with everyone I was a “Baptist Minister” did give me cause for concern.
Though it was challenging, my time with the Conversational English Group taught me everyone in the world is searching for people who are real (or have something different about them); and a consistent Christian testimony that earns a persons trust will speak louder than any Gospel Presentation.
During one of our last sessions they threw a big going party in my honor complete with food, gifts, and a cake that said come back soon John in big letters. The truly special part was before the meal when one of them asked me to pray, I watched as Buddhist’s, Muslims, Catholics, and even those with no interest in God bowed their heads and prayed along with me.
That kind of influence didn’t happen overnight. Instead it came from living out the Gospel in front of them for more than a year. Slowly they moved from an attitude of skepticism to one of acceptance, asking questions about God, and introducing me to their friends as “John the Baptist Minister ”
When you identify yourself as a Christian, that is a good way to make yourself accountable, even to non believers. By saying in your workplace (without being obnoxious), “I am a Christian,” by saying to members of your family or in your neighborhood or among your friends, “I am a follower of Jesus,” you are putting that stake in the ground, and they will be watching you and evaluating you.
And frankly, they will be evaluating God, too. They are will be thinking, So that is how a Christian acts. That is how a Christian treats his wife. That is how a Christian treats her husband. I get it. That is how a Christian raises their child. That is how a Christian does thus and so. . . . They will be watching you. And nothing is worse than getting your behavior corrected by a unbeliever, especially when they are right. Greg Laurie
Sadly many Christians never get past the “evaluation stage” of relationships with Unbelievers because their beliefs don’t really match up with their actions. This is why I would like to share with you the most important lesson learned through the Conversational English Classes, and something that will absolutely make or break your evaluation stage.
We were talking in one of the first sessions about the differences between Cultures when one of the students asked me how America was different from Australia. After thinking about it for a moment I told them that we were too fat because fast food restaurants such as McDonald’s serve much bigger portions than you would get in Melbourne.
This kind of surprised them since most Americans have the reputation of covering up their faults, and my answer led to a discussion about the weakness of US policies for about an hour. Those kinds of conversations earned the trust of the other group members since I was showing a commitment to being real or honest, even when the answer hurt a bit.
That honesty eventually led to sharing my struggles with them (what made me angry, frustrated, sad) and telling stories about God’s comfort in those times of need. With every story or experience I shared they gained more trust or confidence in me, and soon we were all sharing the personal side of our lives with one another. This kind of impact came however because I was willing to be open about what was going on in my life and use the struggles as an opportunity to share Christ.
To be honest getting through the evaluation relational phase with the group members wasn’t hard at all since it was obvious they were watching my life very closely. However I’m convicted by the question ‘how many times have I failed to pass the evaluation of a lost person, and never even realized it?”