I am really impressed with people who are confident and able to make natural everyday conversations with strangers. Aside from it opening up great opportunities for sharing faith, and hopefully the gospel, it just seems so good human wise. Too often I look around the bus and see everyone sitting in isolated bubbles ignoring one another!
Our friends who are serving as missionaries in Egypt explained how this was a cultural difference and in Cairo this is reversed! I also appreciate that there are definitely times on a long journey or after a hard day where I need the space afforded on the bus. Just to “zone out” and reflect or shut down…and if I need it at times, I’m sure others will too!
Saying all that, I think we’ve lost something as (Christians and as) people in that it seems awkward and inappropriate to start these conversations. (Maybe, this is all in my head!) The opening scenes of Shaun of the Dead reflect this to an extent – people are kind of acting like zombies to each other – before the “apocalypse” even begins!
Yesterday I spent an extra hour or so in Leicester with one of my Connect leaders, and unintentionally and without effort I watched him engage two separate strangers in conversation. The first was the person serving us at a food court, simple questions like “How long have you worked here?” and “How’s your day been?” sparked a two way conversation which resulted in my friend talking about his own job in a pastoral role and how he trusts God for the finances.
The second was a conversation with a PhD student who was sitting next to us. I can’t even remember how the conversation started. My friend simply extended his hand to shake the stranger’s…
I must add, my friend’s motives weren’t to force the gospel in or anything Christian for that matter. Just simply to engage people on a personal level, and initiate conversation. But what a benefit for me to watch, observe and be part of! The trick wasn’t confidence or knowing the right “gospel diagram” or having a perfect “evangelistic question”, but simply to ask how their doing, showing interest in another’s life, and smile!
As I sit in Costa, I take out my headphones and quietly ask God to make it’s obvious if He wants me to start or be part of spontaneous conversation. I ask that I would seem approachable and friendly to those around me…and I get on with my work.
…and who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this? – Esther 4.14
I carry this verse, and change it: who knows [Paul] but that you have come to your [seat in Costa] for such a time as this… Who knows what God can do and might be planning to do… So Lord open my eyes. Amen.