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Is Your Cold Turkey Too Cold?

by Bob Walz

Trainer Coach for the MidAmerica (IA/NE) Region, Navigators
Published by CMM Press

There was a hollow pit in my stomach every time I had to talk to strangers on Jax Beach in Jacksonville, Florida. For a few weeks I got to be part of a Navigator Summer Training Program and every week we were out on the beach, meeting new people and asking them if we could share with them a 10-minute presentation of the main theme of the Bible. Some said yes, but many said no. Asking them felt like when I was in high school and I had to gear myself up to ask a girl for a date who would probably turn me down. The girls often did turn me down politely, but certainly. The people on the beach were just like those girls, one after the next. 

The day I was going to leave the Summer Training Program I thought about skipping going to the beach because I was “packing.” I knew in my heart that the Lord wanted me to go and I’m so glad I did. As I went out with a student named Luke, I decided to do something different when people said “No.” I decided I would ask them if they would be willing to play “Spiritual Baseball.” In Spiritual Baseball, there are four questions. I remember the questions with the acronym “BASE.” B is Beginning – How did the world get here? A is Aim – What is the purpose of life? S is Standards – How should we treat each other? and E is End or Eternity – What happens after you die? When a person answers those four questions they have given you their basic view of reality, their worldview. As a person answers these questions I ask other questions to clarify what they believe and why they believe it. I’m not wanting to defend anything, I’m trying to understand the person. Many times people ask me what my answers to the questions are. Sometimes I have to ask if they would like to hear my answers to those questions. Most do.

Often we had 20 minutes of discussion and many times I was able to share the gospel message with them after I had listened to their beliefs. It seemed they were willing to listen, if I was willing to listen first. Some people opened up and told us very personal information. We met a couple who’d gotten engaged the night before, a man in his 60s who lost his 35-year-old son to cancer, and a young man who translated for us so we could talk to his uncle.  

After this experience, I had to ask myself a question, “Was my cold turkey evangelism too cold?” I can honestly say that after a few of these conversations, the uneasiness at approaching strangers went away. As I went and talked to the next person, I was a lot more excited about it, for I knew that a sincere interest in each person could change the whole encounter. Romans 10:17 (ESV) says “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Again, I was convinced that people will hear the message more readily if I grow in becoming a sincere and better listener.