How do you preach the gospel to a non-believer who has already 'been through a lot'?

Dear friends,
I’d really like to know your thoughts on the above topic. Essentially I know a few non-believers who have been through significant life events/hardships albeit emotional, but not needed Jesus. Maybe they are hurting inside, but it’s hard to tell on the surface. For example - divorce (and we were their neighbors when they got engaged and married so it was hard for us to see them go through it), a really bad break up, loss of a loved one, or I think of a young man named Henry Fraser who was really good in rugby but became quadriplegic in his teens, and in a split second his life changed, yet overcoming the odds, surviving and thriving through art and sport etc.

How does one present the gospel when these people (esp the latter example) can seem to get through whatever life has to throw at them?
@Lizibeth - thank you for encouraging me to ask this… sorry it’s taken so long!

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Dilane, very difficult to give a specific answer because you have to know the people and they have to know and trust you. Job, although not terribly easy to grasp, gives us a clue by the pattern of his friends. They sat with him and didn’t talk right away. I would suggest to be there for them and with them and let them talk to you. Let them see your strength in any situation and hopefully they will see Jesus in you and ask you questions about how you would deal with things. Sorry that I can’t give you more but I will prayerfully consider this and maybe respond again. God bless your heart.

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Dillane, boy are you talking about me. Needed no body no matter what. I can handle it dont need a God as a crutch. Was I ever wrong, you bet ya.
It started to change when those around me nd Christian’s I knew started doing unto me one of the least of these His little ones.
Now at times there is only one set of footprints.
At other times he’s my wheelchair.
Much Prayer and patience changed me. Praying with you
Mike

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Dear Dilane,

This is such a wonderful question. And one we must address now because there are people , just as you said, doing well without God ( supposedly ) as of now.

I am best friends with a non believer from Venezula, now in Argentina, who has also been through so much, but now in medical school to never know or want to know our Lord. She is a very kind and generous person. I am about to open a post similar to your question.

I did not know my Lord until I was 14. But I survived… the unspeakable… as a child, but did I really do it or was my Lord always with me?

Jerimaiah 1:5 Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you., before you were born I set you a part.’

Romans 2:15 ‘They show the work of the law is written on their hearts. while their conscious also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts either even accuse them or excuse them.’

I did nothing of my own power. And when I fell to my knees to know this, my Lord Jesus Christ has given me so much more to know He is my only strength. We have His imprint on our existance. Consciouness of right and wrong embedded in our DNA . The will to survive and grow is from the same root, which is our only root in Christ Jesus.

We are born in our Father’s image. We can be of good conscious in Him even to not believe because no matter what we believe, we are His creation and we can not escape this. Nor should we want to. However herein is the conundrum to them, but not us. We know who sustains them and empoweres them, is our Lord who sustains and empoweres us! So then how do we bring them around to our Lord to see this?

I will like to read many post on this topic because it is very important to explain to those in hardship who have overcome, or those with no worries, or everyone …that our Lord is their reason and their stronghold.

Blessings,
~Sanah~

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First I believe you have to answer the person as much as the question. Also we all have a salvation story , share yours and the before and after effects of accepting Jesus as your Lord.
We plant,we water and we pray for the lost regardless of thier condition. And trust God to do what He does best.

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@dilane85. Their assumption of independence provides a wonderful door. They are not alone in believing they did their way. But such a conclusion is as innocent as the little one who believes they are good hiders in a game of hide and seek. I have watched them cover their heads with covers, sitting in the middle of the floor and conclude that no one can see them.

The great news for us all is that GOD is not disappointed when we do not acknowledge His presence in the world. GOD is not stymied. He plays the hide and seek game with us, allowing us to believe we are successful. Because when you are all-seeing, and all powerful; patience is a character trait. That we sometimes feel we are responsible for our survival simply means we forget, GOD rains on the just as well as the unjust.

Agape is love way beyond human understanding. We are so loved that we are never alone. But we always get to choose and even the bad choices serve the purpose.

We get to declare that we did it our way and by ourselves. But the truth is, we don’t know living minus the presence of GOD, whether we accept Him or not. We can be glad for one another, and confident that the ‘crystal blue’ of GOD’s persuasion will find each of us. But we get to choose.

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Hi, dilane @dilane85. I’ve been thinking about your question. In some ways, are these people any different from other un-believers who think they have gone through life without God, “thank you very much”? Haven’t we all lost a loved one, or experienced divorce, whether it’s family or a friend? Yet, not all of us have experienced an instant that totally changed our lives, physically.
The Scripture that comes to mind is, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but the end, thereof, is destruction (or death)” (Prov. 14:12).
I don’t know the extent of your relationship with these unbelievers, and maybe this might be too simplistic an approach, but maybe these people wouldn’t mind telling you how they “survived” their hardships. Just simply asking them if they wouldn’t mind telling you. Perhaps, a simple question such as this could open up a conversation that could lead to other exchanges of ideas… not necessarily all at once. At some point, you could ask if they ever sensed a need for God in the process of their ordeal. Or did they ever blame God? Do they believe there is a God, if so, even believe in Him?
You don’t have to present them with the Gospel from the start. You probably need to build their trust by expressing genuine interests in them. Establish a relationship where you can be more free to express, perhaps, the verse above. Ask if they would mind if you continued the discussion on another day because you are really interested.
I think Mike @mgaplus4 has a point in sharing his experience. It’s how we treat them followed by patience and prayer. God only asks us to demonstrate the gospel–whether by word or deed–He will do the saving through a changed heart such as Mike’s. But, you also have to understand that not all people are going to respond simply because their eyes have been blinded by the deceiver.

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I just read something by Oswald Chambers about how it is not our job to save people, it is our job to disciple them. My husband and I had a friend who was not open to “witnessing” at all. At his deathbed we learned that he recently gave himself to Jesus because he saw Him in our lives, especially the was we treated others and he was convicted that this God was Someone he wanted as his savior.

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Hi Dilane,
One doesn’t necessarily “preach” the gospel.

Rom 1:17 talks of declaring that our salvation comes by faith and not by any other method is the good news!
So is this something that your non-Christian friend needs? (especially after they have been through such a lot?) There’s undoubtedly time for this message to be shared with them.

Many recommendations from our fellow travelers indicate spending listening time, showing love and compassion, just absorbing whatever they have to say, vent and query without judgement (learning from Job’s friends). Persistent friendship builds trust. Trust allows respectful two-way communication.
This is an ideal time to share a very precise, succinct authentic, original experience that portrays your development of Faith in our Father. Ask them what they want from a god if he exists.
When possible pray with the person’s queries or needs as if they are your own prayer. Allow the Holy Spirit to voice their prayer through your lips. Leave some silence for them to think through their own prayerful thoughts and close off in the name of Jesus. Let God’s Spirit work through and not your knowledge, your theology or doctrine or your own understanding cloud the prayer.
Be patient and persevere in friendship and relate with your heart towards a person created in the image of God.

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People don’t care what we think until they know how much we care. If we can mirror Christ’s love, people will listen.

My first thought is that we have all been through difficult times and in my case it was the love and forgiveness that drew me to Salvation. I have actually found it more rare for people without challenges to accept the Lord vs those who have challenges. I wouldn’t see a tougher than normal life as an obstacle at all, as we all need and want to be loved no matter where we have been or where we are. There is also the conversation about Heaven that can be had. Again, it’s for all of us but if we’re talking to someone who is really down or sees no hope…Eternity: Pain Free, Stress Free and Full of Joy is the perfect conversation to have…