I hate being awkward. I hate looking strange, weird, unusual. I hate making people feel uncomfortable.
But I love to share the gospel because it completely changed my life. And I love to share it with complete strangers.
Those two things usually don’t work well together, but I’ve learned how to bring up the gospel in ways that remove the awkwardness. I try to make it as natural and normal as possible. I have friends who seem to relish the awkwardness… and sharing the gospel with them is always an interesting adventure. And it usually ends with me realizing I don’t need to be afraid of awkward moments because God is in the awkward moment.
In June, I met with two friends, and we set out to Unirii Park to share the gospel. At one point, the quietest in the group points to a young man sitting on a bench and asks us, “What do you think about him? Should we talk to him?”
“Sure!” I responded, not really feeling it but willing to go for it and wanting to be encouraging. “Since you felt the impression, why don’t you start the conversation?” (Did you see how smoothly I got out of responsibility?)
So he approached and said quietly in Romanian, “We want to tell you about the gospel…”
The young man looked confusingly at my friend, looked at the people around him, smiled awkwardly, lifted his hands and shrugged, said something in an unfamiliar language to the woman next to him… and then smiled awkwardly again at my friend.
“English?” I asked, when it dawned on me that perhaps he hadn’t understood a word my friend had said.
“Little,” the young man smiled, looking very relieved. “Ukraine.” He then pointed to himself, the woman on the bench with him, and an elderly couple on the neighboring bench. We found out they were his family, mom, grandpa, and grandma.
And that’s how one of the most amazing (and awkward) conversations of the day began… But the awkwardness didn’t stop there.
At one point, the third man in our group received a word of knowledge and asked, “Grandma, pain in her body? In her knees?” The young man nodded “yes” excitedly. “I pray for her,” my friend said and then, without giving any warning, without asking permission, my friend knelt down in front of grandma and put his hands right on her knees.
The stunned look on her face was priceless.
Grandpa, not knowing what on earth was happening, jumped to his feet and pulled his arm back. I don’t know what was going through his mind, but it looked like he was ready to throw a punch at my friend.
My friend, meanwhile, was oblivious and simply prayed a quick prayer of healing for grandma’s knee.
She stood up and began to walk, without limping.
The family was overjoyed, and everyone (even grandpa) was smiling.
“Jesus healed you,” my friend explained. “He is God and He’s alive. Through Him we can be forgiven. Through Him we can go to heaven.” He shared a simple but clear account of the gospel. “Do you want to pray with me?”
All the family nodded their heads after the young man translated.
“Great! Repeat after me.”
The young man translated. Everyone nodded.
“Jesus,” everybody echoed in English.
“Thank you for paying the price for my sins.”
“Thank you mmmph rrrmmph eprounvosdljh…” the family attempted to copy my friend.
“No, no, they don’t know what they’re saying.
“Use Google Translate,” I suggested.
I’m sure it was obvious to all of you reading, but Google Translate did *not* work.
“Okay, I pray in English. You,” my friend pointed to the young man, “translate into Ukrainian. Everyone,” he pointed to the family, “repeats in Ukrainian.”
Finally something that made sense!
The whole family prayed together, and when we got done, they had the biggest smiles on their faces. They hugged all of us and kept saying, “Thank you.”
And I stood there stunned that God actually did something. None of those awkward moments, none of the weirdness, none of the strangeness stopped Him from healing grandma’s knee and touching this family’s hearts.