Dealing with difficult issues

by , CMI-Australia

So often, when out on ministry, people love to share the highs and lows of their witnessing experiences with us—we get to hear lots of interesting stories. One difficulty we often hear goes something like this: ‘I often try to talk to people about the Lord, but they are not interested in hearing about Christian “things.”’ Over the years I’ve found this to be the case as well. However, try just talking creation and evolution instead. When most people find out you believe that the earth is just 6,000 years old, you’ll be engaged in ‘vigorous’ dialogue before you know it! And don’t worry—the average creationist reader will rarely be outgunned on the ‘scientific’ issues.

I’ve discovered that, although most people ‘believe’ evolution to be true, the average person doesn’t know that much about it. For example, if someone asked you, ‘What about all the fossils?’ perhaps you could ask them to name one, or ask, ‘Is there a particular fossil you have a problem with?’ Another common response is, ‘But doesn’t carbon-14 dating prove millions of years?’ Of course, you can explain that 14C dating is based on assumptions, and only ‘works’ in the thousands, not millions, of years range. Then, graciously and lovingly, try to show them that they are basing their eternal destiny on something that they actually know little or nothing about! The door is then often open to present the Gospel.

But here is an issue of sensitivity. Many keen creationists are understandably passionate about the creation message, because of its relevance to the Gospel. Unfortunately, although we can be well meaning, we can be a bit over-enthusiastic. We should be reminded that the often-used passage in 1 Peter 3:15 exhorts us to not only ‘… be prepared to give an answer … . But do this with gentleness and respect.’ Here is the key—because, by and large, the message will be received in the manner in which we give it.

In my early ‘creation’ days, I can even remember my own pastor warning me, ‘No-one would dare argue creation with you, Gary, because you back people into a corner with all the facts.’ It was a painful, yet valuable, lesson; and yes, it was true. It is also important to remember that, as human beings, we naturally ‘feel’ the emotion of rejection if people do not respond to our witnessing—but if we anticipate this to be common, we won’t be so discouraged. I even heard about some research which showed that, on average, it takes seven different people to witness before someone responds to the Gospel. So don’t give up, because you might be only the third or fourth person. The point is that ‘there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents’ (Luke 15:10).

Finally, I’d like to deal with what is probably the most difficult and sensitive comment that CMI receives. It is the perception that because we often enthusiastically promote Creation magazine and our other resources at the end of meetings, we are ‘doing it for the buck!’ Ouch! To keep them affordable, ‘profit’ margins on book sales generate such a minor source of income that without donations, the ministry would rapidly disappear. Materials are high in our priorities because research has repeatedly confirmed that one-on-one evangelism is the most effective method. Our equipping and challenging resources are the mechanism for this to happen.

For example, K.S. of Victoria (Australia) said, ‘I have used your material for several years to bring three people to the Lord. Keep up the good work.’

Or C.G., who wrote, ‘My husband and I are so thankful for your resources and the bulletins on creation and the stand you take on God’s word. My husband takes your [Creation] magazines to work, often sparking a conversation with a co-worker. They are a great witnessing tool.’

I could honestly share with you hundreds of similar testimonies demonstrating how God has used the materials to transform lives.

Interestingly, the negative comments rarely come from non-believers. It’s mainly genuinely concerned Christians who have probably misunderstood the thrust of our ministry. However, may I throw out a gentle challenge to such folk? ‘Why did you attend the meeting? Was it only to be blessed and fed from God’s Word, or was it to be equipped to reach the lost and those who are struggling with evolution?’

We are all called to spread the good news (Matthew 28:18–20), but evolution is a proven stumbling block to folk receiving the Gospel. Why not be excited, and choose to partner with us in our efforts to disseminate CMI’s life-changing resources at every opportunity and everywhere you can?

Published: 6 February 2006