Be ready to speak up and tell anyone who asks why you’re living the way you are, and always with the utmost courtesy. [1 Peter 3:15b-16a (MSG)]
Returning from our walk at the park, we saw people at the RecPlex Center setting up for an event with a dais, tables and chairs. A woman was placing a sign that pictured a dog and the words “BARK-A-CUE” in bold red letters. My husband lightheartedly asked, “Are you going to grill some dogs?” In a snarl worthy of a Doberman, she replied, “No dogs!” and sped away faster than a Greyhound! As we walked to our car, we looked more closely at another sign; in small print were the words “Guardian Angels Medical Service Dogs,” a worthy cause indeed.
We recalled the last time we’d come upon an event at the same park. That time we spoke with one of the volunteers who eagerly told us about the group, gave us a brochure; they ended up with a nice donation from us. The dog lady, however, missed a valuable opportunity to tell us about the event and possibly get two new supporters. Later in the day, I looked up the event and learned this is their major fund-raising effort. It offered a “fabulous BBQ” (probably not hot dogs!), a silent auction, a band, a well-known vocalist, and an opportunity to learn about service dogs and meet some service dog teams. It would have been a fun way to spend the afternoon. “Oh well,” I thought, “that’s her loss!” but it wasn’t just her loss. Her abruptness to us (and possibly others) affected the organization’s mission of raising, training and donating medical service dogs to veterans, first responders and others in need.
As I pondered how the woman blew an opportunity to share the good her organization does, I realized that most of us aren’t much different (at least I’m not). How many times do we miss an opportunity to share a little of our faith with someone? We don’t have to give a two-hour summary of the New Testament and most people wouldn’t want that. Nevertheless, we can take advantage of the many opportunities we have throughout the day to share our faith and God’s word in many small ways.
Like the Bark-A-Que woman, we can take offense when none is intended or be too busy for a few words or we can be like the eager volunteer we met earlier this year. Remembering we are Christ’s ambassadors, we can graciously answer questions or even offer correction, if necessary. We’re not likely to bring someone to Christ with a few sentences or a quick answer. Nevertheless, we can open the door for them and spark their interest as did the friendly volunteer who gave us the brochure. We do this not by being dogmatic and judgmental but with tact, gentleness, wisdom, and love.
The mission statement from a church I visited recently is, ”We the people of God…are empowered by the Holy Spirit…to be the hearts and hands of Christ.” Let us never forget that we are His voice as well!
If your Gospel isn’t touching others, it hasn’t touched you! [Curry R. Blake]