Why not? And why?
The power of asking the right questions.
Published: 5 April 2011 (GMT+10)
Yoke-Peng Kong was born in Malaysia and now lives in Melbourne, Australia. She knows from first-hand experience the evangelistic effectiveness of asking simple questions.
After having devoured lots of information from Creation Ministries International in various forms—public talks, books and magazines—I have experienced a lot of ‘aha’ moments.
Like: ‘Now I see it!’. ‘That’s amazing!’. That is the reason why I’m eager and excited to lead people to creation.com, as CMI materials have made me appreciate the Bible so much more. Through CMI, I am so empowered with the confidence that the Bible is truly the word of God that nowadays it actually makes evangelism easy.
In fact, these days I am actually very excited to have the opportunity to interact with someone who is not a Christian—as in the following accounts. They are meant to indicate how simple it can be to point people to the materials, e.g. this website, in a way that has them keen to find out more. It also shows how, very often, when you ask the right questions, most often these Bible-science issues turn out to be bubbling away below the surface.
Noah and the animals
Recently, I was in a shop in the town of Warnambool (in Victoria, Australia) that sells all sorts of knick-knacks including some old books. As I was about to pay for a nice white Bible, the gentleman at the counter asked if I’ve seen an even older version than the one I was planning to buy. He kindly walked me to the area upstairs where several Bibles were displayed. (Incidentally, I had noticed the Bible that he was referring to, but had decided on the white Bible anyway.) He seemed to know quite a bit about the various Bibles, so I asked, “Are you a Christian?” He gave a little laugh and said, “Surely not!”. I don’t quite know why, but I just blurted out openly, with a friendly smile, “Why not?” He was quite taken aback by my question. So I eagerly repeated it.
Being genuinely interested in another person’s viewpoint helps keep the conversation
going—and can give opportunity to share the Gospel further.
He replied that it was because he couldn’t accept that the Ark could have fitted all the animals on board. I found it interesting that the objection that popped straight into his mind had to do directly with creation and Genesis—in fact, one of the issues covered by the Creation Answers Book. So, I told him that firstly, it was God who led the animals to the Ark, and asked him if it wouldn’t make more sense to send healthy young animals rather than full-grown ones? I then told him there is much more to the answer—so much more information than I could give him there on the spot. “There are just so many materials on creation.com that you’ll be amazed.” I also mentioned that he could search on many different subjects, such as ‘aliens’, ‘Is there a God?’ etc. I told him he could even critique the articles and ask questions (if he had any left after checking out the Q & A section) and he would get an answer.
On the way back to the counter, he promised me, quite sincerely, that he would definitely look up the site that evening. I’m sure he has a lot of questions. I wish in hindsight that I had taken his email address so that I could follow up and find out where he is at.
Another case was when a young man came to sell me some garbage bags for charity. I told him I am a Christian and therefore believe in charity. Then I asked if he was a Christian. He said no, but he respected other people’s faith. I then asked him much the same as I did the first person in the bookstore, i.e. “Why not?” Why wasn’t he a Christian? He said he could not accept the Bible because dinosaurs are not mentioned in it. I explained to him that the word ‘dinosaur’ was coined long after the Bible was written. He said, “Wow, no one has explained that to me before.” Naturally, I directed him to creation.com and told him about the searches and all. He promised to visit the site and even took a pamphlet off me.
Sometimes it’s ‘Why?’ instead of ‘Why not?’
The third case was at my work, where a colleague said that if it were a matter of choosing between God and evolution, she would definitely choose evolution. I then asked her simply, “Why?”. She didn’t really have an answer. So I asked her if she knew that by evolution’s own principles of mutation and natural selection, evolution doesn’t work? And in any case, what does she understand by mutation and natural selection? It turned out to be not much at all. She hadn’t even heard of Richard Dawkins, for example, yet still chose to believe in evolution. (The context of that discussion had to do with showing CMI DVDs at lunchtime at work, by the way, another great way to break down these barriers to belief.)
But it’s simply asking the “Why?” and “Why not?” that can make all the difference in creating these openings, before sharing e.g. from the magazine, or via videos, or just pointing folk to creation.com.
Questions are powerful
Some years ago, former Australian speaker Warwick Armstrong, while working for the ministry prior to his retirement, apparently passed on similar advice. Ask people to explain, he said, why they would not want to accept the most wonderful ‘free’ gift of eternal life. (This is similar to my “Are you a Christian? Why not?”—always delivered with a smile, because I really am positive and excited about it.)
And if they say something about ‘science’, he said, most of the time it is not something they have thought through well at all. So if they say, “Well, it’s because of evolution”, ask them to explain what it is about evolution? If they say “the fossils”, ask them, “What is it about the fossils?” Keep this gentle probing up and you’ll find, he said, that most of the time they don’t really know why they believe what they believe, and soon come to the end of their answers. Which is a good opportunity to ask them if they would like to know more about such-and-such. And the above example shows that this really is so. It means they are in the position of having run out of answers, and they are the ones being invited to ask you to give them more information. Which means they will be much more receptive than if you had barged in uninvited.
When so many people give these Genesis-related issues as their no. 1 reason for unbelief, we need to sit up and take notice. It doesn’t mean that there are not deeper issues, but at the least these are tangible barriers to faith, and God has over and over seen fit to use CMI’s creation materials to ‘demolish arguments’ (2 Corinthians 10:5) within a person in association with doing His regenerating work.
Be encouraged—and don’t wait to be asked
With these few examples, I hope to encourage all of us who are aware of the wonderful creation ministry. I encourage you to seek out all those who are unaware that there are solid answers to the reasons that many of them see as why they are not trusting the Bible and God’s message of salvation. Pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and opportunity; you will find that opportunities abound. Notice that I didn’t hit them over the head with anything, and I didn’t have to be a science whiz to be able to direct them in the search for truth. In fact, I didn’t give them any detailed information at all—which also means that there is less chance that one will ‘put one’s foot in it’ inadvertently. You can rely on the ‘battle-tested’ information that CMI’s scientists and researchers present in so many different ways.
Non-Christians are not keen to know whether we are Christians or not. So, don’t wait for them to ask you; they probably never will. By raising the subject yourself, perhaps considering the sort of ‘question-asking’ approach I’ve outlined, you will find that many non-Christians are actually more open-minded than you might think. They are often very happy to discuss and even explore these issues if encouraged to do so in a friendly and positive way.
The article 'Why not? And Why?' shows an approach that is often lacking in the Christian World. Instead of telling others the 'Truth' in spite of their beliefs, Yoke's approach tells others we are interested in them and what they have to say. This builds relationships instead of confrontations. True Christianity is not about religion, but relationship with our loving Father and Creator.
Yoke's approach shows interest in others, and gives them the 'floor' to speak their heart and mind, showing them they (and what they believe and have to say) are important in our eyes, and ultimately in God's eyes. It also allows them to ask for the truth when they are ready, instead of having it forced upon them.
This is a wise way to go about being a humble and honorable representative of our loving God.
Oh How Gift giving is our God.
Your article by Yoke Peng-kong "Why not? And Why? is oh so simple yet oh so true. By that I am thinking of the truth that one does not need to be a highly educated person to be able to be a witnessing agent for God. Yoke has shed light on the fact that ALL can partake in being part of Gods Plan to spread the truth that God and Creation with all it's truths in the Bible starting with Genesis do show Gods WORD is truth in it's clearest form.
The question's "Why not & Why" may be the most profound ways to get to the point and heart of most peoples reasons for not knowing or accepting God and their separation from God by their sins.
I give Yoke-Peng Kong 3 Gong's and a GOLD STAR AND GOD the credit for her wonderful brain. We can ALL learn much from her article and improve our effectiveness to the glory of God should we follow the same logic to help people think more logically about why ONLY God's CREATION can tell the reality behind CREATION, CORRUPTION, REDEMPTION, ETERNITY.
GO YOKE !! I'm with you & and all at CMI.
Great article. Handing over a CMI pamphlet will reduce the chance of them forgetting the important sound bytes they just heard. This article shows just how effective a primed, properly equipped believer can be in this humanistic society. It also blows away the popular opinion in the church that creation/evolution is a side issue. It isn’t. In my street preaching experience, evolution is the number one barrier to the Gospel, especially for young people. For anyone reading this feedback, if you are shy about speaking to a stranger, hand them a tract, or leave them lying around. People do read them. Your effort’s, with prayer will be a vital link for their salvation.
Thank you for this excellent article—a method of communicating creation I’d not thought about although, in hindsight, quite obvious! Non-threatening thus giving better opportunity to guide people to the Truth.
Yoke-Peng Kong’s article this morning was the slap in the face I have needed. Although I don't believe that one has to have all the answers in order to bear witness to the Faith, I have been acting and proceeding “as if” this were true. I daily read material from CMI and other good apologetic and creation-related stuff, but take few opportunities to use that knowledge in a practical way. By God’s grace I intend to change that. Thanks so much for your frequent e-mails.