Teaching the Shy Child (and Parent) to Share Christ

Has your child ever wanted to do something, but was just too shy or scared to do it?

Our family decided to participate in a one-day community outreach event at a local laundry facility. At first, our eleven-year-old son eagerly looked forward to the event. Then, as the day drew near, he tried to find reasons to be excused. 

"Maybe I should go stay at a friend's house while you go." 

"I'm not sure about doing this. What if I don't know what to say?" 

Although amiable, he’s shy with strangers—especially adults.

Unfortunately, there have been too many times when I’ve kept him within his comfort zone. It was time to do brave things. Since he is a Christian, I appealed to his heart.

I reminded him how lost people are without Jesus, and how Jesus wants us to share His love with others. I assured him it’s normal to be nervous. Even adults are a little uneasy when encountering new situations. Together, we prayed for God to give us courage and wisdom.

Then, we talked about things he could do that did not require a lot of talking.

    Smile, make eye contact, and say “hi."
Open the door for people.
Offer to help carry laundry.
Offer a Christian magazine, Bible, or gospel tract to someone.
Suggest quietly playing with young children while their parents wait on their laundry.
Offer a bottle of cold water to someone.
After we practiced how we would say and do these things, our son felt more comfortable.

Once we arrived at the laundry facility, I didn't push him, but simply allowed him to observe how the mission team members interacted with the patrons. I was proud of him for just being there and showing support. He was the only team member under the age of 45.

However, he quickly caught the purpose-driven enthusiasm from the others, and set in doing everything we had practiced. He even helped children to their cars by holding an umbrella for them in pouring rain.

He noticed the woman's tears when asked if there was anything she'd like us to pray for her. He heard the children's delight when offered a colorful, children's magazine. He saw the worker, who didn't want to talk about Jesus, but consistently found things to dust near our team members when they talked with other folks about Christ. 

At the end of the night, my heart skipped for joy when our son asked if our family could continue a monthly ministry at the laundry facility. 

I’m thankful we had a good experience that night. While our son is capable of showing God’s love through service, he is not quite ready to verbally share the gospel with someone. But he’ll get there. It takes time and practice, which means we need to continue creating opportunities for him to watch and learn.

To be honest, there are many times, I’m not comfortable sharing Christ with strangers, either.  I like building a relationship with someone first and then having those important conversations. Yet, there are many people whom we only meet once.

Not every experience will be a good one. We may encounter indifference, resentment, or anger. However, each time, we will learn how to express more effectively, what we believe. All we can do is share what Jesus means to us. The rest is in God’s hands.

Sadly, I’ve missed a multitude of opportunities to share the hope of Christ because I’ve stayed within my comfort zone. Not even sharing Jesus with some friends and family.

But I can’t bear to think of anyone suffering through this life without Him, someone not living an abundant life full of joy, or drawing strength and true peace from the only One who can give them.

My husband and I want to grow stronger and more courageous in the Lord. We want to raise our kids to be strong and courageous Christians boldly sharing the love of Jesus.

The funny thing is it scares me to ask for God's help to grow strong and courageous! I’m afraid what opportunities He will provide to stretch me out of my comfort zone. I like easy comfort. He may ask me to do hard things—things I know I can’t do.

Ah. And there it is. 

Strength and courage will not come when we always stick to the things we know we can do. The only way to grow strong and courageous is to stretch beyond our capabilities, and have faith in His.

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