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Like a Sword Swallower



Recently I was asked for a tip on “how to do evangelism”. I chafe a bit at such questions because they presuppose that evangelism is an event and are asking me for a gimmick short cut. I have been considering the question though and decided that my best tip is to get people to talk about themselves. This is often their favourite topic and as they warm to the conversation, I can learn much about their experiences and what they are passionate about.

It is difficult, sometimes, to get people to talk freely about themselves. It often takes time and repeated encounters. 90% of evangelism is ‘just showing up’ consistently, earning the opportunity to hear someone’s story. The other 10% is the ability to hear the heart’s deep cry and recommend Jesus as the answer to that need, based on our own personal experience.

In my circle many people have tats (tattoos) and I have found these as a great opportunity to hear peoples’ hearts. I have discovered that people seldom frivolously ink stain themselves. Their tats are meaningful! After having ‘shown up’ for a while in someone’s life for a time I can ask about a tat. I ask what it is and what it means. As people tell their ‘tat’ stories a light comes to their eyes. They speak about: mothers, sweet hearts, children, places, and times. Sometimes they speak with regret because the relationships evidenced in ink are no longer active. It is easy then to talk about important things! I discover what they care about and often I can be sure that God cares deeply about these things as well.

These tats illustrate brokenness too. One friend has a list of the names of his children. He doesn’t see or interact with them or their mothers. He wears their names and it reminds him of all that he has lost. He knows he has “really blown it” and his tat honours those children and reminds him of his regrets. Jesus has much to say about dealing with such regret! I may never have had that conversation except for our ‘tat’ chat.

I admit to being tat-less, I tell my life story in scars rather than ink! I am often asked if I have a tat, or what I would have if I had one. After much thought I have decided that if I were ever to get one (and I won’t be getting one unless senility sets in) I would get a semicolon A semicolon is used by a writer when he could finish a sentence but instead choses to write on. A semicolon tells us the story is not finished yet. A semicolon is a symbol of hope! I am grateful that I can passionately share about my imaginary tat and share my heart for my friend with regrets. I can tell him that his story isn’t finished yet. The Author is not finished writing. Past mistakes do not dictate the end of the story!

Did you ever hear about the sword swallower with hiccups? He had a semicolon!


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