I am about halfway through reading Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus by Nabeel Qureshi, and there’s an excerpt from the book I’d like to share. Nabeel writes:
There is a simple reason I never listened to street preachers: they didn’t seem to care about me. It wasn’t that they were annoying. I found their passion admirable, and I appreciated people who stood up for what they believed. Rather, it was that they treated me like an object of their agenda. Did they have any idea how their message would impact my life? Did they even care?
Sure, there are street preachers who share their message while still greeting people kindly, getting to know others’ troubles, and praying over personal pains, but I never saw them. What I saw were men who would stand on street corners accosting the public with their beliefs. No doubt they reached a few, but they repelled many more.
Unfortunately, I have found that many Christians think of evangelism the same way, foisting Christian beliefs on strangers in chance encounters. The problem with this approach is that the gospel requires a radical life change, and not many people are about to listen to strangers telling them to change the way they live. What do they know about others’ lives?
On the other hand, if a true friend shares the exact same message with heartfelt sincerity, speaking to specific circumstances and struggles, then the message is heard loud and clear.
Effective evangelism requires relationships. There are very few exceptions. [emphasis mine]
I’ve yet to reach the point in the book where Nabeel becomes a believer, but he’s become great friends with a Christian guy on his college forensics team, and they are having routine, highly intellectual conversations about the claims of Christianity. The decision to eventually become a Christian would be–and still is–a costly one for Nabeel. Hear about that in his own words: