by Muriel LarsonMissionaries Right Where We Live
Everyone in our office knew Lillian was different. When she walked into the ladies' lounge, off-color jokes and profane language would stop. I knew she had something I didn't have. I didn't know what it was, but I wanted it. My wild drinking, gambling, cheating friends certainly didn't have it. In fact, compared to this young woman, they and I became ugly in my sight. The daily life of this candidate for a mission field convicted me.
I had made plexiglas pins, earrings, and paperweights with flowers drilled into them; so I brought some to the office to sell. "Look, Lillian," I said to her, "you don't really have to buy any of my things. But it would help if you would head the list on this sheet of paper, indicating that you were ordering something."
For a moment Lillian said nothing. Then she replied, "I couldn't do that if I didn't buy, Muriel. But I'll tell you what. Give me that paper, and I'll put my name down for a paperweight."
Lillian couldn't afford to buy a paperweight. She was saving her money to return to Bible college to prepare for the mission field. Why would she sacrifice like this just to avoid a minor deception? I began to be convicted about how far I fell short of her standard-and God's.
One day at lunch Lillian told me how she had dedicated her life to Christ at the age of 12 and had made up her mind she wouldn't do anything that would draw her away from her Lord Jesus Christ. Her life told me she was keeping that commitment.
Then one morning I found a gospel tract on my desk. Seeing Jesus Christ in Lillian, and the conviction of the Holy Spirit, had made me ready for it. As I read how Jesus shed His precious blood for my sins, tears of repentance rolled down my cheeks, and I surrendered my life to Him.
Thus two people at my office helped me come to Christ: one by obeying the Lord and leaving that tract on my desk; the other through living Christ before me and talking to me about Him.
Lillian's life contrasts sharply with the lives of many who profess Christ and even serve in churches. Charles Swindoll writes concerning Mark 10:45: "When I have used it as a basis for evaluating leadership, I have usually been both surprised and shocked. More often than not, the truth of the verse in daily living is conspicuous by its absence. And among those we would expect to see it best displayed-the Christian community-it is not uncommon to find it seldom demonstrated." (Improving Your Serve, Word).
The verse? Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many" (NIV).
How can we be missionaries right where we live?
Reaching Our Families
The afternoon of the day I made my commitment, I asked Lillian to pray for my husband's salvation. I knew nothing about witnessing, but being married to a man who was half Viking and half Irish, I knew I'd better find a simple way to do it. I began turning on religious programs on the radio and television. He began listening with me, and sent for a Bible course that led him to Christ.
The Lord led us to a Bible-preaching, Christ-centered church where we were baptized. We began to witness to my family. About six months after we joined the church, we brought my parents to an evangelistic service there. When the invitation was given to receive Christ, my 52-year-old father almost ran down the aisle to do so. Mom followed him, and rededicated her life to Christ. They started attending a church near their home, where they both became Sunday School teachers and soulwinners. Four years later my brother and his wife came to Christ through our prayers and testimonies.
Reaching Our Neighbors
After Al and I came to Christ, I became friends with Joyce, a neighbor who had children the same age as mine. One day I told her about my experience at the office. "I just bowed my head over that tract someone left on my desk," I said, "and gave myself to Christ. And you can do that, too. You can do it at your kitchen sink, or anywhere!" Several days later Joyce told me enthusiastically, "I did it!" Joyce and her four children started coming to our church. Before long, her husband began coming with them.
Since then I have lived all over the United States. In every neighborhood I have found people who either needed to know the Lord or be loved back to Him. They are all around us!
Reaching Our Co-Workers
After meeting Lillian, I worked in many other places, where I found many opportunities to reach and influence co-workers for Christ.
When my husband attended Bible college, I worked at several places. At our landlord's "Sweet Shoppe" I found a fertile mission field: teenage juvenile delinquents, co-workers, people from a nearby plant, and various salesmen. It wasn't always convenient to take time to witness, but I kept my apron pocket stuffed with tracts.
One co-worker and her sister attended a Billy Graham meeting with me, where both made decisions for Christ. I witnessed to a "messenger boy" at another place, and when I met his devout mother I learned she had been praying for him. After he came to Christ, he eventually became a teacher at a Christian college.
Prepared to Reach Everyone
Wherever we go we meet people who need Christ or need to come back to Him. Opportunities to talk about Him often present themselves in conversation. If we're in tune with the Holy Spirit, He will help us spot them and lead us in what to say. When we slip in a witness or testimony during casual conversation, it just seems natural, and therefore seldom causes offense.
I've found that many people are spiritually hungry, and will ask questions. When I went to my daughter's school to protest the teaching of evolution as fact (rather than theory), the principal was so intrigued with what I told him that he spent an hour with me asking questions.
Ever since that momentous day when I turned my life over to the Lord, it has been my hope that others might see Jesus Christ in me, as I saw Him in Lillian. I guess they have seen something of Christ not only in me, but in my transformed family members, for many have come to Christ as we have witnessed and sought to live for Jesus.
First Peter 3:15 says, "But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" (NIV).
Can you be a home missionary? I believe our Lord desires every one of us who follow Him to be exactly that.
One of the 17 books by Muriel Larson is Ways Women Can Witness (Broadman).
Tips on Witnessing
• Be friendly and show Christ's love. Most people will be attracted to a Christian who sees beyond the life-style to a person and puts love into action.
• Share a testimony. In witnessing to others, I have often used not only my own testimony of salvation but those of relatives and friends. People enjoy hearing interesting stories.
• Pray. I pray that the Lord will prepare the hearts of those to whom I may witness, and I pray He will guide me in reaching them. After a witness,I pray specifically for the person that the Lord will use it to speak to their hearts.
• Memorize Scripture. I've memorized hundreds of verses and have found them helpful in reaching neighbors for Christ. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will lead me to use a particular verse with a certain person, and it will be just what that person needs.
• Walk with the Lord. When we walk with the Lord, the power of the Holy Spirit goes with us in our witnessing. We experience the Lord's guidance in what to say. When our prayers are not hindered by unconfessed sin in our lives, God answers them in marvelous ways.
Walking with the Lord fills us with Christ's love for people. When our neighbors see Christ's love, peace, and joy in us, they will be drawn to the Christ who can change their lives.