Are You Afraid of Evangelism? I Was Terrified…

Photo Credit: Cayla Bertelsen

This post was originally published on the Cayla Bertelsen’s blog at and is re-posted with permission.

When I hear the word “evangelism,” my heart starts racing. I don’t know about you, but the thought of walking up to a complete stranger and asking them about the status of their relationship with God has always terrified me. People’s stories make it sound easy (well, sometimes…), and then I wonder what is wrong with me? But, when the call comes at the end of the sermon for me to “go into all the world and preach the good news,” suddenly things begin to look very complicated.

Now, I want you to know that I am no expert in evangelism. I am not descended from Billy Graham. I am no Amy Semple McPherson. However, the Holy Spirit does live inside of me, and this makes all of the difference.

This morning, while I was spending time with Jesus, He reminded me of two times last summer when I was able to share my faith with a total stranger. Both of these were unplanned meetings – but they have really changed the way I think about evangelism. I am not so scared of it anymore. I hope that after you have heard them, “evangelism” might not sound like such a scary word to you either.

The first meeting happened on an afternoon in South Africa at a mall (yes, they have malls, and they make great study locations!). My friend Thelma and I decided to go exploring. On our way, we came across a quaint little shop and decided to look around.

Being foreigners, we were easily picked out of a crowd because of our accents – we sounded different, she being from India and I from America. Before long, the woman at the counter asked us where we were from. Walking up to her, we started a conversation.

Now, being a missionary in a foreign country is a great segue to talk more about Jesus! Conversation came naturally from there, and one thing led to another. We shared about our lives, and she shared some struggles with us. It turned out that this woman was a Christian and had been praying for her husband to know Jesus. So, right there in her shop we had an opportunity to minister to her in prayer. We met a sister in Christ out of the blue, and boy, did it make our day!

From that meeting, I learned that evangelism does not have to be something that is forced, scary, or planned. It can simply come as part of a conversation with a stranger. You never know when the Holy Spirit has someone in the path of your day, waiting for you to bless them and, I daresay, to be blessed by them.

Her name was *Sarah, and I will not soon forget her. May Sarah remind you that God can use you wherever you are, even in a mall on a weekday when you don’t know that the cashier has been interceding for her husband. Evangelism can be spontaneous!

The next meeting happened on an airplane as I was flying from Atlanta to Los Angeles. Once I heard a pastor say that an airplane in one of the best places to evangelize because you are stuck with someone for an odd number of hours in a small space, and they can’t escape! This couldn’t be more true. (I am not condoning you trapping someone into hearing the gospel, but pray for divine appointments as you travel… You never know what could be ahead!)

On this particular journey, I had already been traveling for over 24 hours and had decided (from inexperience) to stay awake as I made my way across the globe. Never again – I do not recommend this form of travel. However, I don’t regret it because if I had chosen to sleep on this five hour flight, I never would have met *Mary.

Mary was coming to Los Angeles for a religious conference; I think it was a Darwinist convention. I’m not familiar with this as a religion, aside from what she told me about it. Mary was a very sweet and compassionate woman. She was desperately searching for four things: fulfillment, peace, self-reconciliation, and forgiveness.

I never dreamed that five hours in a small plane surrounded by strangers could fly by so quickly! In those five hours, we shared stories and searched the Word together. We walked through the story of the Bible and watched God’s relationship with man unfold, connecting the dots between the Old and New Testament and seeing how Jesus fulfilled the plan of God to save mankind. We talked about the peace and forgiveness that could be found in Him alone and how the rituals of self-searching compared to relationship with Jesus. I think it was one of the best conversations I’ve ever had in my life!

Eventually, we did land in L.A. and parted ways with warm wishes. I don’t know where Mary is today, but I still think of her and pray for her. I believe that one day I’ll see her again, and she will have found the peace, forgiveness, and fulfillment that her heart longs for.

From my meeting with Mary, I learned that traveling poses a great opportunity to talk to people about Jesus! Also, God can use you even when you haven’t slept in over 24 hours… And when we are weak, He is strong in us!

I hope that these stories encourage you. You can do this! Evangelism doesn’t have to be a daunting task. It can happen when you least expect it… before you have time to psyche yourself out.

The Father is ready to use you anytime, anywhere. The Holy Spirit lives in you – He knows these people, He is familiar with their struggles, and He knows exactly the way to draw them back to His heart. Every encounter may not end in salvation at that moment, but the pressure is not on you. Simply be open to the Father.

May you encounter your own Sarah’s and Mary’s. Whether it is in a mall, on a plane, at the zoo, or in the cubicle across from you, may the Spirit give you the words to speak and calm your heart. We don’t have to be experts, only willing…

(*The names have been changed in this post.)

About the author

Cayla Bertelsen
Cayla Bertelsen

Hello. I'm Cayla Bertelsen from Los Angeles, California U.S.A. I love Jesus with all my heart, and I love His Word! I feel called to love and serve the body of Christ internationally, especially in the beautiful country of South Africa.

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