Q: When is it Appropriate to Share Your Faith?

A: When they ask.

The other day I experienced THE WORST, most inappropriate example of proselytizing I have ever witnessed. (Evangelical pun not intended.)

I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, weeping over some bad news about my ill infant son, when someone I love decided to bring up the long and narrow path versus the short and wide path, and the importance of choosing the right one.

It kind of blows my mind that any human being would need to be told that this was the wrong moment to preach at another human being, but apparently it’s not that obvious to everyone in the world.

Knowing that Ben and I are Bible-believing, church-attending Christians ourselves, you might be surprised to learn just how often we are actually “witnessed” to. For being the wrong kind of Christian. For attending the wrong kind of church. For reading the wrong translation of the Bible. I swear to you, it is a fairly common occurrence. If you are not a person of faith, you might be surprised to find that you are not the only one who gets preached at. And still always jarring and slightly bewildering every time it happens.

Sometimes it comes from a stranger at the door in the middle of a busy afternoon. Sometimes it’s from a loved one during a carpool to an event.

The one thing all of these wildly terrible acts of “witnessing” have in common is problematic timing. That and a lack of respect for our own spiritual experiences and beliefs.

The thing is, Ben and I love talking theology. We appreciate having our beliefs questioned and tested in respectful dialogue. We enjoy being exposed to different ways of thinking. We would genuinely love to hear your perspective on religious matters.

But there is a time and a place for that stuff. And if you’re wondering when that time is, I’ll make it easy for you: I’ll initiate the conversation. I’ll ask you about your beliefs. (And tip number two: It’s NOT when I’m grieving my sick baby’s diagnosis.)

If you’re someone who is passionate about sharing your faith (and that’s awesome if you are – I’m so glad you’ve experienced such love and hope in your faith that you want to share it with others!) I think this is a good rule of thumb to live by: Share your faith (verbally) when someone asks about it.

(I’ve written about this subject before, from when I used to be a really active and vocal witness for Christ.)

Otherwise, please stick to sharing your faith by your actions and attitude.

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save."

Show them the love of Jesus through your generosity and kindness. Be helpful. Volunteer. Listen. Smile. Hug when appropriate.

Show them the power of the cross by your courage. Stand up against meanness and injustice. Defend the weak and helpless.

And when someone inevitably asks you why you do the things you do, go ahead and tell them. The timing will be right, and they’ll actually be able to hear what you’re saying.

Instead of wanting to punch you in the ovaries.

**(Updated to clarify: I’m mostly referring to questions of salvation. By all means, if you feel you have words of comfort from your faith that are appropriate to the situation, consider sharing them. But please don’t try converting anyone during a sensitive time.)**

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  1. Melissa Fulmer says:

    Bad timing indeed. :( I’m so sorry this happened to you! I’m not sure I understand why that was brought up, but I know from experience when my baby was in the hospital, I had many people who were not good at comforting me and as a result said many “interesting” things. Maybe they were nervous, I don’t know, but I sure did not care what the reason was when they were said. I pray that no matter what is said that the many comforting words of God will wash over you and console you during this time, and you will feel the prayers of many!

  2. Katherine says:

    I just have to second what Melissa Fulmer commented. She said it all! You and your family are in our thoughts and prayers!

    I keep thinking to myself, “what if I’m a match?” and I wonder how many others have thought the same. Is that a possibility? Can someone outside your family be tested for a donor match?

    • Hi Katherine! Though an unrelated matched bone marrow transplant is still a possibility, what we’re REALLY hoping to pursue is something called gene therapy, where they take Felix’s OWN bone marrow, correct the gene, and transplant it back into him.

      But on that note, we really encourage people to join the bone marrow registry for the general good of other families who might need a donor. There are other kids (and adults) out there who need a match, and the more people join, the better chance they have! You can join your country’s registry, and you will be put in the international registry as well. Thanks for your generosity and willingness to be a donor!

  3. I had a friend who had the same thing happen to her when she was sitting outside her husband’s hospital room as he lay dying of cancer. Someone trying to lead her down the Roman Road. So sorry that happened to you. I LOVE that lighthouse quote. Prayers for your wee baby.

  4. Sorry that another person has bad timing. And insensitivity.

    Living in a small Iowa town, I believed in the Lord when I was 40, by reading the bible, seeking God by myself, being led by the Spirit (imagine that?!) even though a dozen churches in town (which confused me at the time).

    Lots of KJ only-ers tried to tell me I could not possibly believe due to NIV. I was a rather mature baby Christian and immediately knew they just didn’t understand how the Lord worked.

    Speaking the truth in love means think before you speak.

    Praying for all of you.

  5. Coriander says:

    All that, plus the fact that they took that verse kicking and screaming out of context. You already are taking the straight and narrow way by turning away from sin and loving and serving God. As though being heartbroken about the life of your baby…I’m going to assume they still need to grow and learn about God and how to love Him and others, just like I need to, instead of calling them an idiot, because that person is my brother or sister in Christ as well. That and I have and will continue to take my turn as idiot, though I strive not to. What seems common sense often isn’t.
    I am sorry for the terrible time you and your family are having, dear woman, and am glad to hear of the help you are receiving from those that love you and even the care of kindly strangers.

  6. I’m sorry this happened to you. :-(

    I’m always afraid of saying the wrong thing to someone experiencing the pain of something I know nothing about. (Did that make sense? Ha ha.)

    I’ve always loved that lighthouse quote.

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