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Why not? And why?

The power of asking the right questions.

Published: 5 April 2011 (GMT+10)
Yoke-Peng Kong
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.

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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.

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.

evangelising
Being genuinely interested in another person’s viewpoint helps keep the conversation going—and can give opportunity to share the Gospel further.
(Credit: iStockphoto)

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.

Dinosaurs

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.