A fantastic video featuring Rosaria Butterfield—her testimony, how hospitality was the patient means God used to draw her to Himself, and how that has affected her views of hospitality in an antagonistic world. Check it out:
This video is a promotion for her new book, “The Gospel Comes With a House Key,” which is highly recommended.
Rosaria brings up an interesting point for us in this video. She goes out of her way to talk about the patience and extended time that is required to love people who are not like us. She says that Pastor Ken Smith and his wife, Floy, didn’t share the gospel with her and didn’t invite her to church early in their relationship and how WONDERFUL that was for her. It meant they didn’t see her as a project, but a neighbor. She notes that she didn’t set foot in a church for 2 years but was in their house EVERY week and talking about all kinds of things opposed to Christianity.
Now, here’s the question: Is this approach agreeable to how you see evangelism? Is this approach something we are capable of and willing to invest ourselves in with neighbors that are radically opposed to our views?
More pointed: It seems there may be two ways evangelism generally flows for us in this type of setting. 1) We start a relationship with someone and early in our efforts there is opportunity to share the gospel or talk about the Christian life and we do so. Either the person is open and the relationship continues or they are not and the relationship doesn’t fully materialize. 2) If the person is not open and the relationship doesn’t materialize we wait and look for opportunities down the road to get reacquainted and possibly bear witness again with hopes the Lord will do more with it this time.
Both of these scenarios allow us to be a testimony for the Lord, but they (perhaps) rarely lead to building a long-term relationship. They can be hit or miss interactions or maybe in the less productive times a “drive-by” moment of evangelism.
What’s missing? Rosaria’s approach. With our neighbors, are we willing to invest the time and energy and patience necessary to build a genuine relationship FIRST? Are we willing to see them as a people, “set some things aside,” and maybe spend years with people who aren’t like us and believe radically different from us? Do we know how to even do that? In such a circumstance, it may be hard to know what we would do and talk about….for years????
Rosaria’s approach raises some interesting challenges for us. But it is likely her approach is required in instances where we will see people regularly (neighbors/friends/family) and there is a large divide in worldviews.
Let’s consider these things. Let’s begin the conversation and dialogue internally. And let’s encourage and learn from one another in this particular type of circumstance in an age where people have a clear view of what they think Christians are—the enemy. And let’s see if a shift to a more patient, invested, and loving approach might yield more long term fruit.
A good place to start may be Rosaria’s book, and maybe some discussions over it in small groups, or Sunday School, or over dinner together.