How do you know when the right time is to share your faith with someone else?
Is it five minutes after meeting them?
Is it when you’d identify them as a friend?
Do you wait until after you’ve known them for a few years?
These kinds of questions can often be crippling because we get into the mentality of focusing too much on when the ‘right’ time is instead of allowing ourselves to be a friend. It’s through the ensuing relationship that opportunities to share the Gospel naturally emerge.
This was especially true for Taylor Davis, Cassidy Davis and Sophia Ykema, a small group of women on McMaster’s varsity soccer team who recently hosted a ‘Take a Look at the Book’ seminar for their teammates with the help of local Navigator Darci Kovac. About two-thirds of the team showed up to discuss whether the Bible is a historically reliable document or not. But the reason most of the team attended wasn’t because of persuasive words or bold evangelism, but rather as a result of three years of relationship-building and authentic living.
It started when Taylor, now a fourth-year student, decided to accept a scholarship to play for McMaster’s varsity soccer team. During her first year, she and her friend Kendra were looking into the Christian groups on campus and decided to check out the Navigators’ free BBQ. There they met Chris Kovac, the Navigator campus leader at the time, who offered to disciple them on a weekly basis. They agreed, and began meeting with him until their second year, when Chris’ wife Darci took over after Chris accepted a pastoral position at West Highland Church in Hamilton. Taylor and Kendra also invited Cassidy, Taylor’s sister, and Sophia to join their meetings with Darci.
Taylor says the idea for the seminar had been brought up a few times over the last three years, but nothing had ever come of it. Finally, when it came up again this last fall semester, she says they felt it was time and made the commitment to host it in November, with Darci acting as a point person to help get it off the ground. It had taken three years, but eventually it happened.
Why did it take this long? Darci says “I don’t know if it would have flown if we had tried to do it the first year. Part of the reason why they had such a good turnout, I think, is because they have consistently lived out their faith in a real way.”
Instead of doing more traditional and direct evangelism, these women opted for the more indirect, life-on-life style that has been adopted by many Navigators. The idea behind this is that as we become more involved in others’ lives and grow in friendship with them, our faith will naturally come forth in our words and actions. As we continue to talk with those around us about our faith, living life with them, natural opportunities to share the Gospel will inevitably emerge.
In this vein, Taylor says they never intended to build relationships to set up the event; rather, the opportunity to do the event came about because of how they lived out their faith. Taylor says there’s no difference between the competitive soccer environment and regular life when it comes to this. “That’s what makes it authentic,” she says. “I don’t live or speak differently around my teammates or other athletes than around my Christian companions. People know and see and hear that I am different. Yet, at the same time I don’t separate myself. I go to the parties with my teammates and other athletes, I hang out with them and I’m friends with them.”
Cassidy says that for her, living an authentic faith “has always been about going the extra mile when it comes to being on the soccer pitch, with my teammates and for my coach. I work hard in all aspects of the game, I build relationships with people [and] may eventually share my faith with them.”
But sometimes, little things can have the most meaning. Darci says things like practicing their memory verses in the locker room and praying for healing with injured players helped demonstrate to the rest of their team that their faith is a serious matter for them. As a result, when it came time to inviting their teammates out to the seminar, “most of them respect our faith and were willing to check [the reliability of the Bible seminar] out just because we asked,” Taylor said.
One of the big lessons Taylor says she learned from this was that while it can be difficult to invite those you are closest with to an event like this, “it’s really not that hard. My responsibility is not ensuring they attend or that they are impacted, my responsibility is giving them the invite and the opportunity to come. God will do the hard work; I just need to be his vessel and willing.”