When to Share the Gospel Individually:
Some people say we should try and share the gospel with internationals as soon as possible, challenging them to make a faith decision. Others say we should not share the gospel right away–only after building a relationship should we gradually communicate the message of salvation in Christ. We want to propose a middle way.
- With someone who has little or no knowledge of God and is a relatively new acquaintance for you:
You CAN share the gospel initially as a way of briefly explaining what the Christian message is all about. (Many internationals are curious to know the basics of Christian faith.) You probably will NOT give a call to faith at this time–just an explanation. Meanwhile, you might share the exact same message 3-6 months later with the same person–after he or she has learned about the Bible and has experienced Christian love–but at this time you might invite the person to place faith in Christ.
- With someone who has positive awareness of Christian beliefs and is comfortable in talking honestly with you:
Share the gospel and ask this person to consider receiving Christ by faith. If he or she is not ready, continue to provide resources and encouragement.
Introducing the Gospel:
- Whether your international friend is best described by the first or second category above, here are some thoughts for introducing the gospel:
- Ask about the person’s prior exposure to and impression of Christianity.
- Briefly share your testimony story.
- Ask what your friend thinks about God’s existence-real, not real….or unsure?
- Offer to give a short explanation of the basic teaching of the Bible.
- If your friend is interested, briefly share the gospel. As previously noted, you will just seek to convey the basic teachings of the gospel with a new contact. But with someone who has been significantly exposed to Christianity, you may offer a chance for a faith response.
Ways of Communicating the Gospel Individually:
- You can use a tool. We recommend the “Four Spiritual Laws,” particularly a bilingual version.
- You can simply share Scriptures straight from the Bible if you are able to focus the conversation on the key issues of man’s relationship to God.
- Seek to clarify any misconceptions of the gospel that are common within this student’s particular cultural group. (For example, the closest Chinese translation of the English word, “sin,” is a word that means “crime.” Clearly, Romans 3:23 is not saying that all human beings are criminals.)
- Share your personal testimony.
How to Answer Questions:
- For questions that come in the middle of sharing the gospel, especially multiple questions, you can say something like: “Maybe it would be better if I could finish this overview, and then answer your question. My answer might make more sense then.“
- When possible, turn minor questions into avenues for deeper discussion. “Let me know understand a little better. Is this one of your main questions about Christianity? What are your main questions?“
- If a significant question is posed and you have a good answer, simply share that answer.
- If a question is posed and you don’t have a good answer: “I don’t think I can answer that very well right now. But can I can look something up on it and get back to you later?” If your friend says yes, find the answer from references or from friends and then make sure to initiate another conversation with your friend. Not only will this show respect for his or her original question, but you will have a second opportunity to build your friendship and share your faith.
References for Answering Tough Questions:
Some references you can turn to for answering tough apologetic questions:
- Know Why You Believe, by Paul Little
- A Ready Defense (a good anthology), by Josh McDowell
- When Critics Ask (Bible difficulties), by Dr. Norman Geisler & Thomas Howe
- When Skeptics Ask, by Norman Geisler & Ronald Brooks
- The Reason for God, by Timothy Keller