Past stories archive

Each week we unveil another of the 50 ways to share your faith via our iOS and Android App and email subscription.

For your convenience, each of the stories will also be made available here a week after its release.


Week 1 - 1 November 2012 - Polite civilities

Remember the joy of polite civilities. Offer to help with something – a shopping bag, a door, a dropped set of keys. The possibilities are endless...

The week before Easter, I was standing in the check-out line at a supermarket - just listening to those around me.  You see, I had gone into the shop on purpose, looking to engage and maybe even help someone that day. I heard a conversation at the next checkout that went like this:

Assistant: “I’m sorry. You are 80 cents short. You don’t have enough money for all these items. You are going to need to put something back”.

There was a pause. The customer said, “I guess I could put back the chocolate.”

Instantly that conversation had my attention - no-one should have to put back chocolate! So I reached into my purse and pulled out a dollar. Reaching across to the checkout assistant I gave the dollar to her and said, “No one should have to give back chocolate.”  The customer was so surprised and she thanked me, but all I said was,
“Happy Easter!”

Ruthmary

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Week 2 - 8 November 2012 - How are you?

Talk about the small things. Ask someone how they are going, and wait for their answer.

I was at the post office the other day. No one else was around. As I came to the counter, I felt that the lady serving me was not happy, so I said,

You seem a bit down - are you OK?” She looked at me and said,

Thank you for asking. I am very worried about my daughter….” She shared why and the concerns she had.  When she had finished telling her story I quietly asked,

Can I pray for you?” She said,

"Yes." I offered a simple prayer, right there, in a soft voice with my eyes open: “Dear Lord, please bring peace to this family and this situation, amen.

She thanked me and I went on my way. It is amazing what happens when you ask someone how they are when you are actually willing to listen and respond to what they say.

Sally

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Week 3 - 15 November 2012 - Coffee?

Take someone out for coffee. Let them know you would like to ask them how they understand faith. Listen and learn, don’t lecture.

There was a young man who had lurked at the edge of church activities for quite some time. He came and went but never really stayed.

So I decided to invite him out for coffee. I thought it would be good to find out what he believed and why he occasionally came but did not connect to the church regularly.

Well, the coffee date went well and we spoke about life, love and acting. I discovered that he was an artist/actor. After 2 hours together we had not talked about faith at all but it had been a good time.

Since that coffee date this young man has come regularly to church, become a member, received communion and talks to others. I realised I didn’t need to talk faith, I just needed to listen about life.

Mark

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Week 4 - 22 November 2012 - Loyal customer

Be a loyal customer at your local cafe and/or grocery store. Smile, chat and take interest in the owners, workers and other patrons.

When I first moved into a new area, I was uncertain where to meet people so I went to a cafe where the owners met me with a smile that made me feel welcome.

I returned to that coffee shop every week and sometimes twice a week. I had no office in this area and needed to meet with people, so this cafe became my meeting place.

Each time the owners and I would chat about life. They knew I went to church and I knew that they didn’t. Over a period of three years we became very close. They shared their struggles with me. I listened and offered to remember them in my prayers. Their response was always, "Thank you."

Then their business took a turn for the worse and I was able to encourage others I knew to frequent this cafe. They were so grateful. Then an amazing thing happened.

I was going through a rough time with one of my children. I shared this with the owners and they offered to pray for me! My response was, "Thank you."

Mary

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Week 5 - 29 November 2012 - Undivided attention

Stop bustling. Give someone your undivided attention.

I met with a friend for coffee; she brought a friend of hers along who was having a hard time (this had been arranged between us beforehand). We sat and drank coffee. She talked and I did a lot of listening. My phone went off but I let it ring and continued to talk.

At the end of our time together she thanked me for listening and said she felt better just because she was able to share openly. She then thanked me for not answering my phone while we were talking. She said, “At that moment I knew that you were genuinely interested in me so I could trust you.

Undivided attention is a great gift and a gift we can all give.

Angela

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Week 6 - 6 December 2012 - Name tag

Wear your church badge out of the church building and into whatever errands you have that day. If someone greets you by name, be friendly, and see if a conversation begins about where the name-tag comes from.

After Church one day, I raced to the local supermarket to grab a few things that I needed. I grabbed about 15 items and headed to the check-out.

As the young woman at the checkout started to put my things through she asked me, “Do you go to church?

I answered, “Yes - how did you know?” She said, “You’re wearing your badge!

We both laughed and then she said to me, “Why is being a Christian important to you?

I had 15 items and approximately 2 minutes. So I simply said, "This is a world where we can feel very lonely, I hate being alone, Jesus said, ‘I am always with you even to the end of time.’ That is the kind of God I can believe in, one that is with me all the time; my faithful friend."

Her response was, "That's cool."

What an amazing opportunity!

Ruth

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Week 7 - 13 December 2012 - Attentive listening

Listen attentively. It’s simple, listen up, and listen good! Don’t think about your next comment or answer.

I was talking to someone the other day and she mentioned how she had been to a psychic and had found the information given to her helpful. My first thought was, as a Christian, I don’t believe in psychics. But instead of saying that I asked her some questions and just listened to what she had to say.

I asked things like: "Why was it helpful? What were you seeking? Did you get all the answers?"

Through this conversation I was able to say that I was glad that this was helpful because God loves her and wants her to have peace.

She then said, “But I don’t have peace. Do you?” Well, that conversation is ongoing to this day.

Michelle

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Week 8 - 20 December 2012 - Answered Prayers

Think of a time when God has answered your prayer. Keep it in the forefront of your mind, and ask God to send you someone who you can share this story with.

I was recently looking for a job and nothing was happening. Then, all of a sudden, I saw this job I really wanted but the application date had passed.

I called anyway and they said I could still apply; so I did. The amazing thing is that I got the job, even though I applied late and was the applicant with the least experience. In a practical world I should not have got the job, but I did!

I know that this was an answer to prayer and I love my new job. I have friends that I went through high school and Uni with, and they often remind me that they don't believe in God and all that stuff.

We all went out to dinner, as we often do, and they asked me about my job. I was able to share how I believed this was an answer to prayer. One of those friends asked me if she could come with me to my next church thing!

God is good!

Alex

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Week 9 - 27 December 2012 - Offer to pray

Offer to pray for someone when they share a concern or issue with you. Be prepared to pray for them then and there. Otherwise, pray on your own, and get back to them to follow up to see how they are going.

I was standing at the bank speaking to the teller. I could tell that something was wrong, I just had a feeling that she was a bit down.

So I asked, “Are you doing OK today?” She said that she was having a hard time with her teenage son and felt that this worry was causing her back to be in pain.

I offered to pray for her. She replied, “Yes please,” and closed her eyes. I realized that the prayer was to be done right then and there.

I prayed simply for Jesus to take the pain away in her back and to bring some peace in the situation with her son. At the end of the prayer I said amen, she did too. She thanked me, saying, “I don’t go to church and I am not sure what I believe but I do feel better, thanks”.

We exchanged smiles as I walked away.

Barbara

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Week 10 - 3 January 2013 - Drawn to Jesus

Pray every day for someone who is far from God to be drawn to Jesus.

My daughter at the age of 15 started to make some really bad choices and I was powerless to stop her. The result was that she starting living a life that was very destructive.

We endeavoured to keep contact as much as we could and tried to keep an open door. It was not easy.

One day, my husband and I were at our wits end, so we started to pray in earnest for for her.

Each night we would thank God for our daughter and pray that she would be drawn to Jesus. Because we were thanking God for her, we began to see the little things that were happening in her life.

We expected God to hear our prayer and looked for signs and took hope.

It has been 10 years and there are still times when I worry, but the other day she said to me, "You know Mum, I do believe in God." It was an answer to prayer!

Oh, I am still praying for her that she will own her faith, live it and it will transform her life into everything she wants it to be.

Gay

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Week 11 - 10 January 2013 - Take criticism

When people bring up bad things about the church, agree with them. The church does stuff up. Don’t try to pretend it doesn’t.

I was talking to someone the other day and he said to me, "I hate Christianity; it just starts so many wars". I responded by saying, "Yes it has and it is not right."

He stopped short and looked at me. He couldn't believe I had agreed with him. After all, he knew I was a Christian.

Once he had got his breath back, he asked, "Aren't you going to justify it? Every Christian I speak to says, ‘Oh yes but....’"

I replied, "I am not going to say that. It happened and it is so sad. I have to go now but I would love to talk to you more about this and it may be good to look at this issue from how Jesus feels about it. I reckon he is just as sad as we are."

He replied, "I will take you up on that offer", and I am looking forward to it!

Alan

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Week 12 - 17 January 2013 - Don't negate

Accept that everyone is on a spiritual journey. When sharing what you believe, don't negate what others believe.

I was in a conversation with someone in my sports club and the subject of angels came up. They shared that they believed in angels.

I was excited and said I believed in them too. We then shared our beliefs about where angels came from and what they do. It was a lively conversation and I made sure I took the time to affirm the things we had in common.

When leaving, this person turned to me and said, "That was a great conversation and I know we don't agree on everything but I think we have a lot in common, let's talk more, maybe next week after the game?"

What an open door.

Robert

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Week 13 - 24 January 2013 - Judge not

When you think someone is making poor choices - love them, don't judge them. If they ask for your opinion, offer it kindly and gently.

I remember there was a young person who came to church on a Sunday morning very hung-over from the night before. His parents said he had to come, even though the young man had made it clear to me that he did not believe.

Well, he admitted to me that he had drunk too much. All I did was to give him a hug and say it was ok with me if he fell asleep in church.

We talked later and he said it was probably a mistake and I shared that mistakes have consequences but nothing separates us from the love of God. God loves us even when we stuff up. I journeyed with that young person for 5 years and witnessed the transformation; first coming to church because his parents said so, then coming without being forced, then realizing that he actually wanted to follow God and that he did believe.

He asked if he could be confirmed.

When asked what kept him in the church he said, "Even when I was stuffing up, I knew I was loved and accepted here".

Ruthmary

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Week 14 - 31 January 2013 - Be real

If you don’t know the answer to something, be honest. It’s ok not to have all the answers or to struggle with issues of faith – remember we’re ALL on a spiritual journey.

I was asked once, “What do you really like about God?” That was an easy one to answer. I knew that no matter what, God loves me.

After I had finished sharing they asked, “What are you struggling with about God?” I was taken aback. It isn't something you think about.

At first I said, “Off the top of my head, I can't think of anything. Can I get back to you?” They agreed and we went our separate ways.

When we met up again I said, "I have thought about your questions and what I struggle with is understanding why my son died. And to be honest, I am still not happy with God about it! When I get to heaven, God and I are going to have a big discussion about it, because I doubt that I will understand why he died while I’m still on earth."

This person said that they had asked many Christians these two questions but many brushed this question aside. This person now attends our local community church!

Karen

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Week 15 - 7 February 2013 - Open your home

Invite people into your home.

Hospitality is a great way to connect with people.

At our church, we are currently running a, "Look who's coming to dinner!" campaign in which we invite a non-believer over for dinner. We engage them in general conversation. We are not asked to convert them or Bible-bash them in any way; just offer genuine hospitality.

Each time we have someone to our home we ask others to pray for us and the hospitality we give, that it may be truly Jesus-centred. When something is surrounded by prayer, God will work!

Sandy

 

I have decided that I need to be more open with how I share my life with people and so I have placed myself on a couch-surfers website.

What this does is let people know that if they are traveling through Adelaide they can come and crash on my couch for a couple of days. They usually call and arrange a time.

Well, I have never been so busy talking to people about my faith. I explain that I do this because Jesus says, "Welcome the stranger."

The conversations have been wide and varied and some of the people passing through have come with me to some of my Christian events. One was a drummer and he came to our young adults gathering, we asked him to play his big African drum.

He did and afterwards he said, "It was great to meet with people who put their faith into action." He moved on the next day, but who knows what seeds were sown simply by living what we believe and welcoming the stranger?

Darren

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Week 16 - 14 February 2013 - Interest group

If you don't have any friends who aren’t Christians, join (or start!) an interest group or find a hobby outside of the Church.

We were given the challenge at church about joining a group in the community so that we can be witnesses. So two friends and I joined a wine club while at the Adelaide Show.

We thought we could go along to wine tastings once a month and meet new people. However we found out that each wine tasting event cost $50 and we figured by the time we had got our money’s worth our Christian witness may be in question!

So we joined a water aerobics class once a week at the gym instead. 3 years later and the relationships and conversations are awesome!

Kerry

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Week 18 - 28 February 2013 - Be a friend

Don't make friends with someone just to get them to become a Christian. Just be friends with them.

One of my brother-in-laws got married and it was to a very different girl. Although we didn't have a lot in common, she was loving and kind and I wanted to be friends.

As we got to know each other, faith came up. She herself did not believe. I said to her that I wanted to be a true friend that shared all of my life with her. Faith is a part of my life, so when we talk it will come up. Not because I have an agenda or wish to convince her, I just wanted to share my whole life.

We talk faith often - along with the other parts of life. To this day we have a great relationship. She is a dear and true friend. The depth of what we share, I believe, comes from this mutually respectful foundation.

Di

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Week 19 - 7 March 2013 - Generosity

Be generous with your money - buy coffee, meals etc... But also let the friend return the favour if they want to. By giving and receiving, we show equal value in each other’s humanity.

I have a friend who is a single Mum. She was having a hard time with her finances. Actually, we were both poor together.

But then I got a job; things changed and I had some money. So when we went out for coffee, I would pay. My friend really struggled with that, but I said, "Don't worry, you can pay for me another time."

And sure enough, now she has a job and when we go out she often says, "I'll get this," and I let her. When we first met she was not going to church at all, but now she attends regularly and is active in leadership. It has been a wonderful 8-year friendship (and still counting).

Julie

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Week 20 - 14 March 2013 - Support a cause

Give money to a Christian organization that you think is doing excellent work. Share that passion and the importance of the work with someone.

We had a group of ladies from the church that met at the pub once a month. It was an informal gathering that we could invite our non-believing friends to. No speakers, just chatting. But it became clear that we wanted to DO something.

Some of us had gone to the Global Leadership Summit and heard about KIVA; an organization that gives small loans to people in third world countries.

So we signed up; we decided we were professional woman in the work force and so we should support women who were trying to start businesses to support their families. Our catch phrase was, "Working women supporting working women."

So every time we gather, we give a gold coin donation. We continue to loan money to women all over the world. As the loans are paid back we simply invest it again with someone else. This is a project that every woman who comes to the pub can engage in.

It has been a great source of discussion with our friends who are not in the church as we explain that Jesus appreciated women, the poor etc... and this is a way we put our faith into action. It is a project that binds the group together and opens the door to talk about faith.

Roma

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Week 21 - 21 March 2013 - Be trustworthy

Be trustworthy and attribute that trustworthiness to God.

I volunteered at a camp for young people and my job was organizing transport. It came to one meeting and the transport was not there. I realized that the reason things weren't happening was because I had not been clear in my communication.

I quickly made phone calls etc... and sorted everything out in time. However, one of the young people came up to me, I know that he was just trying to ‘feel my pain’ but he started blaming the main organization for what had happened.

He said things like, "How can they let this happen". It was at this point I turned to the young man and said, "No, actually I am the one at fault, my communication was dodgy. So thanks for the support but we can’t really blame anyone else and by the grace of God it is sorted now."

The young person looked at me and said, "I would never have admitted that to anyone, that takes courage." I said, "I believe honesty is the best policy."

The young person looked at me and asked, "Are you a Christian?" Well, the conversation about honesty and faith went on for another 30 minutes!

Matthew

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Week 22 - 28 March 2013 - Honesty

Be honest even if you think it makes you look dumb or silly. Others need to know that we are vulnerable and have our insecurities too.

I was having a conversation with someone recently about God. They asked me, "How can there be three Gods but one God? How does that work?"

I know that there are analogies and I have been known to say, "It's like water, ice and steam." But by listening to my friend I knew he was asking for something deeper than that and so instead I said, "I have to be honest. I don't know how that works exactly."

His response was, "Then you are dumb to follow it." All I could say was, "I don't think it is dumb because for me. I can only say that it is something I feel deep in my heart, in my soul. Sometimes that means not always knowing everything - which is hard - but I am OK with that."

He and I still talk. I feel I can share what I believe without feeling I have to prove everything and he accepts that what I believe comes from my heart.

James

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Week 23 - 4 April 2013 - Loving T

Be sensitive. When talking about God stuff, be brief. Don't go on and on, especially if you see your counterpart glazing over.

When my 4 year old asked me where babies came from I realized that he did not want the whole explanation of how everything worked. So I just said, "God made a hole in the Mummy, so the baby comes out there." It was enough and he was happy with the answer.

In the same way when the opportunity comes up to talk to people about our faith we don't need to give all the gory details. One-sentence answers are enough (one sentence that has no more than one comma and one ‘and’)!

Take a moment and write one-sentence answers to these questions:
Why is being a Christian important to you?
What do you get out of having a faith?
Why do you believe God is real?

Bobby

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Week 24 - 11 April 2013 - Sensitivity

Be sensitive. When talking about God stuff, be brief. Don't go on and on, especially if you see your counterpart glazing over.

When my 4 year old asked me where babies came from I realized that he did not want the whole explanation of how everything worked. So I just said, "God made a hole in the Mummy, so the baby comes out there." It was enough and he was happy with the answer.

In the same way when the opportunity comes up to talk to people about our faith we don't need to give all the gory details. One-sentence answers are enough (one sentence that has no more than one comma and one ‘and’)!

Take a moment and write one-sentence answers to these questions:
Why is being a Christian important to you?
What do you get out of having a faith?
Why do you believe God is real?

Bobby

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Week 25 - 18 April 2013 - I'm a Christian

Let people know you’re a Christian, without making a big song and dance about it.

I love the way that culturally in Australia a lot of our lives are focused around the weekend. For those of us who attend church, this is a great opportunity to share what we did. It is what gets asked the moment we walk into work, school, shop or the gym.

Actually, in just about every environment we get asked, "How was your weekend?" How great it is to be able to include church in this answer. Maybe not make it the only point, but incorporate it into your reply.

You can say things like, “I had a relaxing opportunity to watch the footy and I was in a great mood because what I heard at church was inspiring.” Or, "Watched my kids/grand kids play sport on Saturday and had a great morning at church on Sunday."

The possibilities to share this are endless. We don't need to say more than this because you can be sure that when those around you have a problem or a question, you will be the first person they will ask!

Scott

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Week 26 - 25 April 2013 - Conversation

Think conversation not conversion.

As Christians we have so many good things in our lives that give us hope, peace and perseverance. One thing that gets in the way of us sharing our faith with others is the feeling that we have to convert them.

Our job is not to convert; the Holy Spirit does the convicting, Jesus does the saving and our job is to simply witness! Tell people about the good things God has done for us. Speak about the faithfulness of God and how you journey with God in your life. That is conversation. That is our call.

I remember when my kids had just gone to a new school, there were lots of people to meet and get to know. Over the next year I made some friends and in the second year a lady came up to me and started talking. We also became friends.

Later she said, "I waited a whole year for you to be my friend. I heard you talking to others about how you love life and how you prayed and how you felt God close. You just said them in short everyday conversation and I thought to myself, ‘I want her to be my friend, I want to know what makes her tick’."

We are still friends and after many years she came to church, became a Christian and her daughter was also baptized. So let's simply have conversations about the God who first loved us.

Belinda

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Week 27 - 2 May 2013 - Smile

Go out of your way to smile and talk nicely to shop assistants.

There's a saying that goes, "Smiling is infectious; you can catch it like the flu.

I am sure we have all experienced those people who just seem to smile all the time, not a fake smile but one that really lights up their whole face.

There are times we may think, "What are they up to?" But mostly, we think to ourselves, "They seem really happy". We can feel a little bit better about life because we saw them, or they smiled at us.

That was my experience just the other day, someone smiled at me and I started smiling too. It felt good and now I want to try this out! Why don't you try it too?

Joanna

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Week 28 - 9 May 2013 - Not my choice

Do something someone else wants to do, even if it is out of your normal sphere of interest.

I am involved in a drama company. Often, after rehearsals, we go to the pub. Although I am not the pub type I go because I care about these people and want to spend time with them outside the theatre.

I have done this for many years now and after a recent show I was asked why I was a Christian. I simply shared how it gives me someone to journey with in my life. Someone who I can trust, who knows me better than I know myself, who knows what is good for me and who, no matter what, gives me a peace in my life.

Well, from that question, a flood-gate has opened; so many questions, so much opportunity to share. Often it was said, "The only reason I feel I can talk to you about this is because you are a Christian that is willing to come and be with us at the pub!"

So I guess maybe I am a pub person after all if it means I get to be with and talk to my drama friends about faith.

Sam

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Week 29 - 16 May 2013 - Faith @ Work

Take your faith to work. Model the Christian faith in your actions, but also be ready to speak about your faith if asked.

I had a friend who worked as a teacher. He was someone who spoke straight, had strong opinions and swore, but had an active and alive faith! He was a strong follower of Jesus and the way he loved others showed that.

When his colleagues came to him with a problem; he listened. When they needed practical help, he gave it. If anyone needed an advocate, he spoke out on their behalf (to the point where he often created difficulties for himself).

When helping people, he spoke about how much God loved them and wanted good things for them, he was not afraid to comment on faith.

This friend of mine recently died of cancer. At his memorial service, people came from all over (many who were not Christians) and commented on how he had helped them. Because he lived what he believed, they respected what he believed.

Many of them have had deeper conversations about faith with his wife since his passing. That is an awesome legacy that started from being willing to share his faith freely with his colleagues.

Ruthmary

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Week 30 - 23 May 2013 - YouTube

Find YouTube or GodTube clips that you think your friends would like and share it with them.

There are so many clever YouTube clips; funny, poignant and great discussion-starters.

I have some friends who are very concerned about poverty and how there are people living here in Australia who need a place to live.

I found this great YouTube Clip about a couple who were buying a house that would be a first home for themselves but also for other new-comers to Australia. It is a great project.

When I showed it to my friend she asked me why I cared. I was able to share with her that Jesus cared about the poor, so as a follower of Jesus it concerned me too.

She said she would like to talk more about this. I look forward to that!

Roger

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Week 31 - 30 May 2013 - Facebook

Be specific about your Christian status on Facebook and be aware of what you pass on in your emails. It is a good place to consistently share about how your faith interacts with your life. Does what you write, like, post, repost, match what you believe?

How many of us have a Facebook profile? Do we list ourselves as ‘Christian’?

If you do, that is awesome, but it is also important to think about the words we write in our posts. Do they support our faith? Or do we get caught up in the culture and start to sound like everyone else?

It is not much different for those who have an email account. We all get the funny passed-on stories and jokes etc... Before we send them on do we look at the content and make sure that what we send does not interfere with what we believe?

It can be a trap for every generation. If we say we are a Christian, then we have a responsibility to make our words match our beliefs.

A friend of mine recently wrote this as his status on Facebook;

"I want to encourage all those who are struggling now they have become a Christian and some of your friends don't really want to know you anymore. God is with you, and will guide you, strengthen you and bless you for your faithfulness. But don't stop praying for your friends. God might just surprise you!"

What a witness! I think this is a great proclamation of his faith and a great encouragement to his friends.

I often check his statuses to see what new, wondrous things God has done in his life recently. What message are you sending to your friends online?

Neil

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Week 32 - 6 June 2013 - Help others reflect

Be someone who is willing to help someone puzzle out a solution to their problem.

I have found that in order to help someone with a problem, you often need to keep your opinion to yourself.

Many times, the answer to the problem is already inside the person you are speaking to. After all, they are the ones with the full knowledge of the situation.

It can be simply asking questions like, “Why do you think they respond this way? Has this happened before? What have you done in the past?” (and similar questions).

These are open-ended and help the person draw from what they know and find a way forward, even if that means just understanding the situation better.

As Christians, we often feel we have the answer, but what we have that is more valuable is the patience to help others find the answer.

I was talking with a woman who was upset with herself because her reaction to a problem was over the top. "How can I stop this happening?" she asked.

I asked her about why it happened, when it happens, how does she feel?

She came to realize that she could tell when it was going to happen by a certain feeling she got in her neck and that that was the time to walk away. It would stop this over-the-top emotional reaction.

I mentioned that I would keep her in my prayers, which she was grateful for - and it worked.

I have spoken to her many times since and it continues to work. She knew the answer, I just needed to listen and help her reflect.

Mark

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Week 33 - 13 June 2013 - Invite to Alpha

Invite someone to an Alpha course and attend with them.

I have this little class where I help people speak English. I hold it in my home and most of those who come are Chinese.

When we run an Alpha course I invite them to come, I sit with them through the course to discuss faith and unpack any English they don’t know.

It does take time. Being aware of how you say things and what they mean can be exhausting. But when people are interested in Jesus, how can I not make the effort to help them come to know Jesus?

The great thing is, one lady from the group has already made a commitment and a few weeks ago was baptized.

It is very exciting. I want to do that journey again!

Jan

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Week 34 - 20 June 2013 - Help with Alpha

Approach local ministers to do an ALPHA course, offer to help!

Often when asking a minister to do something we come with a basic idea. The minister gets the feeling that she/he needs to do extra work and so the response we get may be in the negative.

But have you thought there is another way? What about you looking at the Alpha course and seeing what is needed? Then gathering a team of people that you know would be willing to help, gather ideas of who to invite and then go to the minister and say,

"You know how I spoke to you earlier about doing an Alpha? You were keen but could not see how you could find the time to do anything more? Well I would love our church to do an Alpha course and I believe I have a way forward that won't add to your work load."

Be sure to have it written up so the leadership, the minister(s) and church councillors have it to look at. It creates an opportunity for those who need time to think about it to have the information they need.

This method can also work for things other than Alpha!

Jeff

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Week 35 - 27 June 2013 - Youth group reunion

Host a youth group reunion when there’s a big milestone.

We had just moved into a new building and felt this would be a good time to have a reunion of our old youth group.

We are all in our 40's now. I wasn't sure if anyone wanted to come, but they did and it was a great celebration.

But what really amazed me is that there were those from youth who no longer went to church at all.

One friend came up to me and said, "You know, I had forgotten what it is like to be in a group of people who are so different but really love and care about each other. I think I need to get back in touch with this."

Now all I need to do is not lose contact.

Steve

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Week 36 - 4 July 2013 - Brainstorm

Connect with other people even if they come from another church and brainstorm ways you can share your faith with the community around you.

For many years I have been involved in presenting plays for Easter and Christmas in the primary schools in our area. It is something that is a combined effort with the other local churches.

We access the plays from Scripture Union. They are clear and age appropriate for the kids at the schools. We perform as a team and the unity is wonderful.

Over the years, we have become known at the schools and the kids talk to us, even in the shopping centres, waving and explaining to their parents who we are.

It is so good to tell the Jesus story with other Christians to this generation. Who knows what seeds are sown? But we are convinced that seeds are sown!

Ian

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Week 37 - 11 July 2013 - Excited about Jesus

Get excited about Jesus. Remember how you came to faith, and what he has done for you. Let that overflow.

I had spent some time in the car listening to Christian music and reflecting on how good my life is! Sure there were struggles but I felt that God was with me in those struggles and in the car.

I got out of the car and went into work. Just about everyone commented on the fact that I looked content with life. All I said was, "I am!"

A little bit later one of my colleagues came in and said, "What is making you so happy?" I simply said I had been thinking about how lucky I am because even though there are struggles in my life I believed God is with me and that is what has made me happy.

My colleague responded, "I thought it might be something like that!" and went back to work.

Neil

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Week 38 - 18 July 2013 - Jesus in my life

Having faith and knowing Jesus is a part of your life. Listen for the appropriate moment when you can share this faith.

I have a little coffee shop that I often go to, in fact the owners and I have got to know each other well.

One morning when I came in I saw that she was distressed. I asked what the matter was.

She shared that business was not going well and they may soon be bankrupt, they had to sell and soon.

My heart broke for her and I said I would pray, and she thanked me. But then I also encouraged people from my church to support this coffee shop to help the owners stay afloat.

Perhaps it was enough to keep the wolf from the door. Each time I came in, I got the update. Each time I prayed, thanking God for being a God who cares for all people and asking for a solution to this problem.

Finally, as day of signing had approached, the owner asked me to pray that the deal would be successful - and it was.

She came up to me one day to say thank you and I told her, "That is what Christian family does." She said, "Yes I can see that and I am grateful, now that this business is sold I am going to look into my faith again."

What a blessing!

Nicola

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Week 39 - 25 July 2013 - Consistency

Be consistent in what you believe and how you behave.

As a group, we have been reading the “Irresistible Revolution” and were struck with the quote: "What if we lived as though Jesus meant what he said?"

How radical that would be! It would not be spending all our time trying to understand it (which as Christians we have used as an effective tool for procrastination) but just doing it!

The timing was amazing for me.

I have a friend whose husband was dying of cancer. We had all been young together and I was finding his impending death very confronting.

This book challenged me to go and be with her. I arrived at a time when having an old friend was needed. We spent every afternoon together until her husband passed. I was able to bring food and just be there; many times without even talking.

How glad I was that our talking at small group nudged me to respond and actually do what Jesus said, "When I was sick you visited me".

Ruth

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Week 40 - 1 August 2013 - Forgive quickly

Forgive quickly.

I remember a time when someone had said some very hurtful things to me. These things were so bad that I felt completely crushed inside. I never wanted to see that person again and I used to walk to the shops just praying that she wouldn't cross my path. I cried for many days and spent time with God.

I felt God asking me to forgive but I just didn't want to. Then as I was driving, I was listening to some old worship music and I heard the words: "Freely, freely you have received, freely, freely give. Go in my name and because you believe others will know that I live".

I realized that I was not being free with my forgiveness, so I asked God to help me.

Instead of waiting for her to bump into me, I went to the school to pick up the kids early. I knew where she would be waiting for her kids.

I walked up to her, and simply said, "What you have said has hurt me a great deal and I am not sure what our relationship looks like in the future but I want you to know that I forgive you".

She said, "If someone had been that mean to me I would never have forgiven them!"

I said "God has forgiven me and said that I should forgive others so that is what I am doing. I really hope your life goes well". I said goodbye and left.

I ran into that same woman 5 years later, she told me she had gone to church and she and her two eldest kids had been baptized. She was now dating a lovely Christian man and they are getting married soon.

She thanked me for loving her all those years ago and was glad we could catch up again.

You never know what seeds are being planted and how they will come out!

Mary

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Week 41 - 8 August 2013 - Your story

Share your faith story with a friend. If you have a friend who does not know about your faith, try and share it with them – even if it is just in little bits at a time.

I have a friend who I love very much, but it always felt like every time I talked about faith a wall came up between us.

I met with my friend and said that I actually want her to be a part of my whole life and that my faith is a significant part of my life. Therefore I want to be able to have it naturally come into conversation rather than there be a hesitation between us. I reassured her that I was not trying to make her believe as I did. I promised never to use my conversation to be manipulative. It would be just an honest sharing of friends who live life together.

She agreed. Now that talking about faith is a normal part of our conversation, our friendship has been able to go a lot deeper.

My friend is still not a Christian but that is not the point, we share honestly and I trust God to work through that.

Alice

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Week 42 - 15 August 2013 - Encourangement cards

Send cards of encouragement.

Sometimes what we do may not be directly to those who are far from God or seeking God. Sometimes we are called to support others who do have the opportunity to talk to those outside the church.

Recently I sent a bunch of encouragement cards to a group of people who would soon be leading a spiritual retreat. It was a retreat for people who are seeking an understanding of faith and what that means for them.

I wanted the leaders to know that God had chosen and called each of them to be a part of the retreat. They were chosen because of who they are and what they would be able to share with the participants.

At that retreat there were attendees who came to understand the amazing love of God revealed to us in Jesus and so gave their whole hearts.

I love it when God does stuff!

Jo

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Week 43 - 22 August 2013 - Invite to church

Invite someone to church.

All through high school I had a consistent group of friends. I never asked them to come to church. I would mention youth group in passing but never invite them. It was a bit too daunting and I was never sure if they would like it or continue to like me. To be honest I never thought of inviting them to church.

Then one week, when we were all in Uni, I knew that the topic being covered in church was something that a friend of mine was interested in, so I invited her.

Her response was, “I’d love to come!

Then she said, “I have seen for years that this is something that is not only important to you but also makes you different and I wondered why, as your friend, you didn’t want me to be a part of that?

She came to church and still attends once a month.

We really don't know what other people are thinking. How I wish I had asked her sooner.

Alex

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Week 44 - 29 August 2013 - Mission trip

Go on a mission trip.

There was this mission trip happening with the church and I wasn't sure I wanted to go. In some ways I did, but in another way I didn't. Well, in the end I figured, “Why not?” I should go and so I did.

Little did I know what God had in store for me! I met with these people who lived in abject poverty and yet still had a smile on their face. As I looked at all the adversity they face every day, and as they shared with me how they relied on each other, I realized that I had my life around the wrong way.

I have always been an individual person and, to be honest, pretty selfish - my space, my stuff etc... But it needs to be about others and being in community.

So now I want to create community and I have found myself thinking about other people’s needs.

All my friends that I went through school with have noticed the change and now want to hang out more. They have even give me more opportunities to talk about my faith and they actually listen!

Now I just want to serve God with my life - all of it; friends, family and community.

Laura

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Week 45 - 5 September 2013 - Practical service

Be involved in acts of practical service to people in your community.

Our church is near to a high school.

We have great opportunities to connect with the students through their Cafe 12 - a room dedicated to helping the year 12s get through their last year of school. It’s a fun, comfortable room in which students can come and hang out or ask for help with subjects, assignments etc.

There was a concern that some students were starting their day without any breakfast. So, about 8 years ago, we started making pancakes with toppings.

Every week, we make about 200 free pancakes as a gift to the students. The students and staff love them, and we get a buzz out of being part of the school life.

We have also created "The Hive" at our church, which is a media centre and have free after-school access to computers and the internet for students. The Media Centre aims to be a safe place of learning and fun for youth, providing access to computers, the Internet, a multimedia cinema and friendship from those Christians that serve there.

Andrew

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Week 46 - 12 September 2013 - Retreat/camp

Invite a friend to a retreat/camp or conference.

We have a family camp at our church every year. So I decided that I should ask my friend to come with me.

She was not real sure but I said I would be with her and, although there is talk about Christian things, there was also a lot of other fun stuff we do together. So she came.

She loved the games and the sand castle competition. She really enjoyed the fact that this group of people really loved each other.

At the end of the camp she said to me, "I would love to have a group of people who loved me like this". I said, "You do - this group!"

Although she hasn't made a decision to follow Jesus she continues to be a part of a small group and comes to church sometimes.

They will know we are followers of Jesus by our love.

Kerry

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Week 47 - 19 September 2013 - Apologise

If you have wronged someone go and apologize without justification.

I have a friend who is not a Christian and she is very demanding. She seems to want all my time and sometimes I feel I just need to get away from her, so I withdraw from the friendship.

My friend noticed that I was withdrawing and, plucking up the courage, she came to speak to me about it. When she brought it up I felt defensive inside but the fact was, what she was saying was true.

So instead of fighting it, I just accepted my part in what was going on. I said, "I’m sorry," without justification.

She was shocked that I didn't fight back (because usually I have a comeback for everything).

She explained that she was surprised but felt it was proof that I was honestly trying to live out the things I was reading in the bible. She then went on to say that other Christians she knew didn't do that!

It is always hard to take responsibility for our own actions especially when we know we have done wrong - but it is what Jesus asks us to do - be honest. I think that a deep relationship with Jesus makes the difference.

Alice

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Week 48 - 26 September 2013 - Pray for a group

Choose a group of people to pray for, that they may be drawn to Jesus.

Through a group of Christian friends I became aware of a group of prostitutes that operated in the Philippines.

Many of these women did this to help provide money for their families; many felt they had no choice, no other options.

So we started to pray for them that they would come to know the love of God and that God would make a way for them to come out of prostitution but still be able to support their families. Our prayers continue and we have heard that some of the girls have come to faith.

Through the help of others they have retrained in a skill that will help them earn money that is not through prostitution. In turn, the girls who have come to faith continue to share their story with other girls.

They are now working to help other girls and so we continue to pray!

Liz

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Week 49 - 3 October 2013 - E-encouragement

Email your friends words of encouragement and let them know they are in your thoughts and prayers.

I have a friend who is working on a station three hours out from a town.

As she is quite isolated, I send her a daily encouragement so she knows how special and loved she is. At the beginning of the week, I plan the week's encouragement (song words, YouTube clips, Bible verses, funny photos) and send her one for each day of the next week.

Many times she has thanked me for sending something that has really met her where she's at on a specific day - even though I had no idea when I planned it at the beginning of the week.

Nic

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Week 50 - 10 October 2013 - Say Hello

Say hello and be open to a conversation with someone at the bus stop/on the plane/in the shopping line.

I met a guy on the plane, actually he was supposed to sit somewhere else but there was a mix up in the seats and he ended up next to me.

We shared with each other where we were headed. He was off to Brisbane for a conference and I shared I was heading overseas for an exposure trip. I said I was going with my church.

He asked me straight out, "What does that mean to you? Do you have a strong faith?

I replied, "It is one of the most important things to me and my faith in Jesus is probably the number one thing in my life and the most solid relationship I have ever had."

He explained then his own history in the church; from attending when he was younger to now; not going at all as he had actually lost his faith because of some of the behaviour he had experienced in the church.

We chatted for a long time about how church impacts us and how the politics can get in the way of faith. We talked about how the example for Christians is really Jesus and that we get it wrong and get in the way sometimes.

He had turned away from his faith but he was very open to the things of God. We exchanged emails as he wanted to hear about my trip.

We have been in contact a few times and I look forward to more conversations.

Pete

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