Ever lacked words for sharing your faith? Kim, a teacher in America's heartland always felt too shy to share. Then the Spirit gave her words to say, and she led three Buddhist women to Christ. Listen and be encouraged.
Have you ever lacked words for sharing your faith? Kim, an elementary teacher in America’s heartland always felt shy. Then the Spirit gave her words to say and she led three Buddhist women to Christ. Listen and be encouraged.
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(Kim) I would just encourage those of you that are in that phase where you're just scared. You don't know what to do. Don't know what to say. I would just encourage you to seek out some small places that you can get involved because there are places all over the world that are needing help just reaching out to others. And so, I would encourage you to find something small to get involved with first, just so you can start becoming a little more comfortable with being around others who are from different backgrounds. Then I promise you, once you start plugging yourself in, God will just open up more and more doors for you.
(Karen) Have you ever felt awkward or shy about sharing your faith? Our next guest did too. Then she was pushed outside of her comfort zone and ended up leading three women from Buddhist backgrounds to Christ. But before you meet her, I want to give you the backstory behind the name of this special series called The Blue Cord.
When I was a kid, most Americans identified as Christian, and I didn't need to share my faith unless I was going to be a missionary. Now, people of many faiths and cultures live here. We can cross our streets and tell others about Jesus, yet we're not.
Something similar happened to the Israelites. God reveals in Numbers 15:37-41 that after another round of not doing what the Lord told them to do, He gave His people a reminder - a tassel with a cord of blue on the hem of their garments so that every time they saw it, they would remember him and his commands rather than follow after their own hearts. Rich with meaning and purpose, the blue cord was a symbol of God's divine commands that they served a Holy living God who left instructions for how to remember and trust Him.
Inspired by the biblical blue cord, I pray that this Blue Cord Series podcast by iHOPE will be a catalyst for you to go be His witnesses and declare His glory among the nations all around you.
So, our guest today, Kim, is an elementary school teacher in America's Heartland. Kim, are you with me?
(Kim) I am.
(Karen) Awesome! Now Kim grew up in church. Her parents were worship leaders. Kim, when you were growing up, I know that almost everyone was Christian. So, I'm curious about your earliest thoughts about what Jesus meant when He told us to go be His witnesses to the ends of the earth in Acts 1:8?
(Kim) Well, first of all, my parents were like you said, worship leaders. And so, I was in church ever since I was probably one week old. I just remember as I grew up that every time we talked about missionaries, I always thought about the pictures that were on the wall in our church, of these people that lived overseas. They told people about God. And we would send them money for their needs and things like that. So, I more so related it more to those people than I did to myself.
(Karen)You know, I did the exact same. “Missionaries,” meant somebody else went overseas - someone somewhere over “there” to share about Jesus. And it definitely would be a scary place that had snakes. Right?
(Karen)I was largely unaware of the need to cross-cultural and religious boundaries to share Jesus here in North America. So, Kim, I'm curious, when did you start to sense this need to share your faith across cultural and religious boundaries here?
(Kim)Well, as I grew up, I just felt like I needed to somehow get involved, in some sort of ministry to help me not be quite so shy about talking about God. So, I checked into some needs at our church, and I became a Sunday school teacher when I was in high school. We always brought kids in on the bus. So, there were a few kids from different backgrounds and things like that. Not necessarily different countries, but different backgrounds. So that was a start for me. And I just kind of owned it and started discipling those kids and teaching them about God. So, that I see as a first step.
Then many years later I got married. My husband and I were involved in our church there. And we would just start reaching out to places that needed help. And from there, our hearts just grew for missions - for spreading the gospel, for helping others. My parents laid the foundation. And then when I got married, it just started coming alive for me.
(Karen)You know, it's interesting to consider these stages that you went through. First, you're unaware. Then you knew that you should be sharing. And then you began to be intentional by plugging into the church. At what moment did you just start sharing your faith with people from other religions, other cultures?
(Kim) At that particular time when we first started, it was more so people from our town, people who had different backgrounds, different races, things like that. I still kind of had in my mind that missionaries were the ones that fully shared the gospel. But as time went by, and people from other backgrounds started coming over here (and then Brian and I would go on a few mission trips,) it just started growing in me and started becoming a little bit easier, because I realized that people from other backgrounds, are just like you and me. They're trying to raise their family, and they want to have a good life. So, the main differences were, they just had a different culture and many times different languages than us
(Karen) I can so identify with what you're sharing because I just remember vividly just not even being aware of the number of mosques and temples multiplying in the city around me. I just never noticed because I didn't see them in my day-to-day. They were literally just a few miles from where I lived. And I didn't realize it.
(Kim)Yes. if you go forward about probably 30 years of Brian and I just kind of looking for ways to get involved, first we started small and we just started branching out. And with there being so many people here from different backgrounds, there's just a multitude of places and ways that you can get involved.
(Karen)I just want to dive in right there, because I know that you and your husband just moved across the country. You are teaching school elementary school in this pandemic. I know that's not easy. And you have a family of your own. You're crazy busy. And so, I know that you all made an intentional decision to plugin, with the limited time that you have, so that you might declare God's glory among the nations living among us. Tell us about that decision and what you did.
(Kim) Yes. I basically followed the lead of my husband and he just felt strongly that, now there are so many churches here in America that are from different backgrounds and different cultures. He just recently had a heart for the Burmese people. He got on Facebook and started searching for a Burmese church that was close to us. And we found one. They meet in an office building. And so, we joined in on that church and we've been going every Sunday.
(Karen) I love it because it doesn't register that that's even an opportunity or an option to plug in at a church close to where you live with people who are very different from you. And then once you did, how has that expanded your Christian witness?
(Kim) Well, it's certainly made it a little easier just being able to watch them every week and see their love for the Lord and just see they’re just like us. They long to have a good relationship with God.
Through that, we decided to see if there were some people who they knew who weren't Christian that we could reach out to and possibly start a Bible study with. And so, we connected with a family in a local apartment complex. And we just started going over and visiting with them. The first couple of times, we just sat and talked with them and these people ended up being Korean people who are Buddhist. They're very welcoming. They knew we were Christian, and they're perfectly fine with us coming over. And so, we spent a couple of, times just talking with them and getting to know them, and then we asked them, “Would you be okay with us doing a Bible study with you?” And they were very okay with it, which kind of shocked me.
(Karen) Oh, wait, before you go there. I think there's something I want to just point out for a second. You didn't just go out by yourself, knocking on doors. Sometimes I think we have this perception in our mind's eye that in order to go out and share Jesus among the nations, it means that you have to go out there like a Maverick. And you have to have all the perfect words. And you have to know what to say. And there's this image that we have of evangelism that's really pushy. And we don't want to push our faith on someone else. But I'm hearing you say that you went with a group of women. You went together and went to some people who were open. They knew you were believers, and they were open to having you coming over to visit.
(Kim)Yes. It was just a matter of showing that we care about them, seeing if they have any needs. The first couple of times we prayed over their needs and just got comfortable with them and allowed them to get comfortable with us. (We) started to build relationships.
Once they agreed with us doing a Bible study, then the next week we went I didn't have anything big planned. I didn't come up with this big outline or anything like that. I just prayed and asked God to show me what he wanted me to say. And what came to mind was John 3:16. That's what we talked about that first time that we were allowed to talk about the Bible. We did also find some Burmese Bibles, and we brought those to them with some highlighters and allowed them to highlight specific verses that we thought were important or especially important.
Basically, the first time we talked about John 3:16 and what it meant. And then we asked them “How do you feel about this?” Both the husband and the wife really liked the verse and said that they believe in Jesus. At that point, they just believed that He was a prophet - someone who came to help others.
Something interesting about this that I forgot to mention is that they have a Buddhist shrine in their apartment. So, it was just surreal for me to sit there and share the gospel with them while having this Buddhist shrine next to me lit up and it had these sparkling things around it and everything.
(Karen) I think every faith-filled woman needs a moment just like that in their lives where you are sitting in a situation just like that. And you think, “This is so surreal that I am sitting here sharing the gospel in a moment like this.” I had one of those moments too. I remember it vividly. I was sitting in an Imam’s household together with him and his wife and his mother-in-law and all of their kids. And we were drinking tea. And I was just had that same surreal moment, “I cannot believe I'm sitting here - small-town kid farm kid from the Midwest - and I'm right here sharing the gospel.” And you had one of those moments as well.
(Kim) Exactly. Yes. And it made it just more praise-worthy. I was just so thankful to God for that moment. Everywhere that I've ever come across somebody from a different background, I would say 95% of them have been very open to me praying with them, to sharing things about my faith with them. It just amazes me.
(Karen) Well, you bring up something important here. You prayed with them. And so, to our listeners, I want you to know that when you go to iHOPE’s website at ihopeministries.org and join our email list you'll get a downloadable prayer. That is one of the best prayers that you can pray with a woman of another faith or culture. So go ahead and pick that up at ihopeministries.org.
So, Kim, I know you prayed with them. You shared one more Bible verse at that moment. Tell me a little bit about that too, because this is a great Bible verse to share.
(Kim) Yes. As we were talking about John 3:16, Helen just felt led to share some verses from Romans. And so, I just sat back for a moment and let her share what she felt led to share. And then I was thinking, “What can I say after those particular verses?” Because she talked to them about how the wages of sin are death. And so, I decided to share Romans 10: 9-10 - where it talks about confessing with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believing in your heart that God raised him from the dead, that you would be saved if you put your full faith in that. And so, when Helen finished talking then we went through those verses. Later Helen told me that those verses are what really sparked their attention. And they actually were asking questions about those verses. And those were the ones that led them to accept Christ as their personal Savior
(Karen) Praise God! I love this. This is such a good story because Kim, I know that when you went into that house, you didn't have it all figured out. You didn't have it all figured out yourself.
(Kim) Absolutely not.
(Karen)But you were seeking the Holy Spirit for guidance and direction. That's where those words came from.
(Kim) Yes, very much so. I know that I could not have done that. I could not have planned it. In fact, I thought if they do ever accept Christ, it'll be several weeks down the road. I never expected it to happen that quickly.
So now we go every week, and we're doing a Bible study in Luke. We’re just taking it one chapter at a time and reading through it, discussing it. They're asking questions, so that's what it's turned into. And we're also branching out and trying to find friends or neighbors who will come and join. Through this, we did find another family that is very interested in coming to their apartment. So more than likely here in a couple of weeks, we're going to end up having two Bible studies that we're doing every week.
(Karen) I love it. Such a good point. So, you didn't have to have all these perfect words. You didn't have to have it all together. You just sought out ways to be intentional and plugged in with a community that was very different than your own. And now you're putting yourself out there into all kinds of new situations. You’re declaringGod’s glory among the nations that live right here in America's Heartland. I love it. So, any last thoughts, Kim?
(Kim) I would just encourage those of you that are in that phase where you're just scared. You don't know what to do. Don't know what to say. I would just encourage you to seek out some small places that you can get involved because there are places all over the world that are needing help just reaching out to others. And so I would encourage you to find something small to get involved with first, just so you can start becoming a little more comfortable with being around others who are from different backgrounds. Then I promise you, once you start plugging yourself in, God will just open up more and more doors for you.
(Karen) Such sage advice. So good. Thank you so much. I love it. You don't have to go off the deep end, but you do need to start. Start small. Press through. Just start. Well, awesome! Thanks, Kim, for sharing your story today.
Listeners, as we close out our time together, I want to leave you with one thing to think about and talk about with your faith-filled friends this week. That is this: What needs to happen in order for you to share your faith across religious boundaries? Then what small step can you take - starting tomorrow morning - to get started? Thanks so much. Talk to you next week.