Share faith with one, Invest in one
God gave us a promise from Isaiah 44:3-4, “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground;I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.” We believe these images of vibrant growth reveal what God plans to do through the Navigators here in New Zealand.
How do we go about joining God in seeing these promises come to life? One clear way is to take steps of faith and share Jesus with the people around us. We can each ask God to use us in the lives of our neighbours, friends, family members and acquaintances.
1 + 1 is for all of us, its about asking God to open doors of opportunities to share Jesus with one and to invest our life in the growth of one in their walk with God. 1 + 1!
As we trust God together, pray together, and each take steps of faith to share Jesus with others. God is ready to respond to the promises He has made to us and He is able to do immeasurably more that we can ask or even imagine.
Check out these links to stories of 1 + 1 in action, encouragement and helpful ideas
Kristina shares how she uses her natural routines to build 1+1 relationships. I tend to frequent the same places at similar times, like the gym, grocery shopping, and working at cafes. I would notice the same people every time and faces became familiar.
I began to ask God for opportunities to have conversations with these people in the hope that I'd be able to have spiritual conversations down the road. I've been challenged by how Jesus saw, loved and engaged with the people right in front of Him.
Recently, I've had two opportunities to build relationships:
At the gym, I have the same cycling instructor on Wednesdays. When I was early to class, I seized the opportunity to have a conversation with her. I learned her name and had a short conversation about fitness. I now pray for her by name and hope we get to have more conversations in the future where I can share about Jesus.
I go to the same hair salon in Auckland, but my hair stylist tends to be different each time. Last time I prayed that God would give me the right hair stylist to love and care for. I got someone from India who was very open about how hard it is to be in New Zealand while her family is suffering back home. I shared some of my own similar struggles, but for the most part God led me to listen and empathize with her. Now, I am praying that I will be able to get my next hair appointment with her in a couple months.
Intentionality in the small, everyday interactions and routines of life can provide great opportunities to meet non-believers and share faith. D* shares a story of how she has been able to meet her non-believing neighbours and find ways to be intentional about deepening those relationships through the natural rhythms of life.
Our family got a puppy, Shadow, in December 2020. Just around the corner from us is a park where I can let him off the lead and the kids can play football. I naturally got into a habit of walking the kids to school with Shadow and then going home via the park.
By walking the dog at the same time each day, I started to meet others walking their dogs at this time. Through Shadow, I met Bruiser and Poppa and consequently, their owners, S*, D*and J*! S*and D* were walking their dogs around the park, and Shadow was playing, so I just popped myself in beside them and walked with them around the park. Occasionally, I wondered if I was being rude and interrupting their morning walk. But I just joined them anyway!
During the school holidays, the kids and I would take a football down to the park. D* and J*''s house backs onto the park, and when they saw us out playing, they would come out with Poppa and join us in the park. I would chat with J*, our daughter would pat Poppa, and D* would kick the football for my boys to catch. Conversation and relationship naturally evolved and became deeper. It wasn't just centred around the dogs anymore, we were sharing work stories, family stories, they were doing reno's, we had friends visiting....we were genuinely interested in each other's lives.
More recently, S* and J*came over in the evening for an event I was holding and, two weekends ago, D*, J* and Poppa came over for afternoon tea. This was actually instigated by my daughter who wanted Poppa to visit our house. Friendly texts are going back and forth and even a photo of the coloured towels they ended up choosing to go with their new bathroom!!
Have we opened the Bible and shared it with our new friends yet? No, we haven't. However, they do know we have a faith and go to church and when the opportunity arises to share with them more deeply, it will be based on an authentic relationship.
We know that bringing God into an everyday conversation and talking about the deeper things of life can be challenging - sometimes it can feel downright awkward! It is possible people might ask you an outright question about your faith or the opportunity to talk about deeper things might arise spontaneously. However, more often than not, we will need to step out in faith and courage if we want to share about Jesus with people. Expect that it might be uncomfortable and involve risk but don’t feel like you have to have all the answers. Trust that God will help you as you step out in faith in this way.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
Ask questions. Questions can be a great and non-threatening way to open a conversation about faith! People often appreciate talking about themselves with someone who is genuinely interested. You might be surprised at what you learn when you are willing to ask a question. Here’s a few that might initiate a conversation deeper:
- “That’s a really hard thing to handle. How do you process something like that?” (In response to someone sharing something difficult)
- “That’s an interesting point of view. Have you thought about it from this perspective?”
- “What makes you think that? Where did you get that idea from?”
Make the most of culturally acceptable “faith” statements. Do any of these sound familiar?
- “I guess that’s just karma”
- “Everything happens for a reason”
- “The universe is looking out for me”
These sorts of statements are a great invitation for further conversation! You can follow up with a question as simple as “What do you mean?” or “Tell me more.”
Look for opportunities to engage simple questions. For example, if someone asks you what you did on the weekend and you've been to church, you could tell them you’ve been to church but don’t just leave it there! Share a little bit about what you learnt or how it helped you. Follow up with a question, such as “What place does spirituality and faith have in your life?” or “What are your beliefs about God?”
Think about ways you can share how the gospel brings good news into your everyday life. For example, a tired parent discussing how their house is always a mess could share how they’ve learnt to have grace for their day because God shows them how their value is not dependent on how tidy the house is. Finding ways to regularly share a little of what how your faith impacts your daily life – such as how it helps you to parent better, or persevere when your job is challenging or comforts you when you feel stressed – can lay the foundation and expectation that bringing up faith in a conversation is a normal thing for you.
Stowe shares a couple of examples of how he has used questions to engage with people.
One guy said, "I don't believe any of that stuff, especially the Bible. It is full of errors." I asked where those errors were. He said, "I can't point them out specifically but I know they're there." I said, "Let me show you the biggest textual issues in the New Testament" and we had a conversation. That I was willing to push in to his comments and actually wrestle with them opened a door.
Another dude asked 'You really believe in that @#*!?" and I replied, "Depends on the @#*! you're talking about. What do you think I mean when I say Christian?" He was very hostile but I kept responding to his questions with questions such as “What leads you to ask that?” and “What do you think of that answer?” so I could hear more of his views.
With really angry people I ask, "What leads you to be so angry about something or a God that does not exist? Sure seems to take up a lot of energy and time to do that." I find questions help to get deeper with people. Anyone can ask questions.
Thinking in advance how to engage someone who is hostile helps us to having a loving approach and non-defensive response. As Paul reminds us, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” 1 Peter 3:15
Think about the sowing seeds parable; Jesus describes how the Gospel is sown into people’s hearts. With people who are hostile to faith, interactions are like removing some stones or loosening up the soil in their lives. There might be openness to seeds of truth in the future.
We don’t have to be able to answer all their questions or rebuff all their comments. The most important thing is to step out in faith and have the courage to engage. People coming to faith is a process, relax and allow God to use you to move someone closer to Jesus.
A student staff member shares about his relationship with a long-time best friend and the honest conversations they’ve had as his friend has journeyed from being a cultural Christian to completely disbelieving in God.
“Because we’re such good friends, we’ve always had honest conversations together and Christian things constantly come up because it’s hard for me to be myself and honest without talking about God. I’ve told him many times that I won’t stop telling him about Jesus because if I did it would be unloving if I believe what I believe.
I don’t have an approach with him or a secret plan, I’m just myself, sharing how God is involved in my everyday life. This includes being honest when I’m struggling or rejoicing in my faith.
So far, his response has always been the same, “It’s great for you but I don’t need it”.
We continue to be friends. I pray for him constantly (and tell him that) and our natural conversations about God continue.
What gives me hope is that he is willing to talk about it and I know I can share the truth with him without fear that he’ll turn his back on me. We’ve had some intense conversations over the years, especially as we've gotten older, but it has always been on a secure foundation of respect and love."
Not all of us share such close personal relationships with our disinterested friends, colleagues, or family members. This story reminds us that sharing our faith and bringing others to God through Jesus is a long game and we don’t need to have all of the answers or a master plan. All we need to be is honest and open about God in our life and trust in God to show up. Be prepared to take a long-term approach and don’t let other's disinterest in God silence you from sharing your faith.
Use the table below to help you identify and share stories that reflect God's work in your life.
|Question||What is true for you in your own words?||How would you say this to someone else|
|What are you praying about?|
|How is God helping you at the moment?|
|What are you reading in the bible?|
|What are you learning from others?|
Brian shares the following story of how he took an opportunity to share the gospel:
“Recently I was admitted to hospital for blood clots in my leg and lungs. I began to ask God if He would open a door for me to share the gospel while I was there.
On the first night while I was trying to sleep, a new patient was placed in the room that I was staying in. Neither of us got much sleep that night with regular check-ups from the wonderful nursing staff. As we heard reports from the doctors about what each of us was dealing with, I began a conversation with my new roommate. After saying hello to him through our sheet divider, I mentioned that both of us were probably happy to not have what the other guy had! He agreed and our conversation was on its way.
I asked my roommate about his family, his work, and the circumstances that led him to this point with his heart condition. I took time to listen. He had been going 24/7 with his business and his body was failing him – he was weary and heavy burdened. God brought a Bible passage to my mind and I asked my roommate if I could share some thoughts from the Bible about an invitation that Jesus gives to weary blokes like us. He agreed, so I shared from Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” I mentioned that more important than our physical healing is the spiritual condition of our soul and the ultimate healing that Jesus gives to us. The conversation continued with more questions and more hope shared from the Bible!
I was encouraged that God opened a door for me to share the gospel with my roommate! I was able to share the important bits of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. Before being moved to another room, I was able to encourage him to have a conversation with God – especially in light of his impending open-heart surgery for a double bypass. He asked for my business card and assured me that he would contact me in the future.
While not leading my roommate to faith in Jesus, I was able to clearly share the truths of the gospel with him. I liken this to having a pebble in your shoe. While not too uncomfortable, it certainly reminds you of its presence."
We can see from Brian’s story that, as with any part of this journey of seeking to share faith with others, sharing the gospel is going to take prayer, intentionality, willingness and courage. Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you.
- Pray! Ask God to give you opportunities and the courage to take them when they arise.
- Look for opportunities. They might present themselves in all kinds of ways as we engage in conversation with a world that is desperate for answers to life's deepest questions. As Paul writes in Colossians 4:6, "Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt so that you may know how to answer everyone." Ask people if you can share from the Bible if the opportunity arises.
- Trust that God is already at work in the lives of the people he is prompting you to share with.
- Listen to what God is prompting you share.
- Small and often is OK. It might take several conversations before you've shared the whole gospel and you may need to explain it more than once and in different ways. You are seeking to share the truths of the gospel with people, as Brian demonstrated in his story, and it's OK to take your time and work it into conversation when the opportunity presents itself. It doesn't have to be a formal presentation.
- Use your own words. How do you understand the gospel and how would you articulate that to someone? Spend some time thinking of how you might explain it and why it is good news to you. This preparation will make it much easier when the opportunity pops up in conversation.
'Passing it on' is something we do all of the time - with our kids, with our workmates, with friends, with teammates. When it comes to investing ourselves in someone else’s faith journey, we wonder if we are qualified, gifted or experienced enough. Every believer has what is required to invest in the life of another person and this email will give you some tools to help you.
This area is important because;
- everyone needs encouragement. We can create a gap in the Christian life. We emphasise evangelism to see people come to know Jesus but have a gap between coming to faith and eternity. Discipling helps people with life lived in the middle and encourages them to love Jesus and live for him in their everyday lives.
- it's what Jesus commanded us. "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations...teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). As disciples of Jesus, we are taught to obey Jesus, and one thing he commands his disciples is to go and make disciples! The great commission is for all of us, not just people in ministry roles. God uses everyday people with a heart to serve and obey him.
This story is from a Navigator staff member who helped someone who had never discipled anyone before.
“I can’t mentor someone else. I don’t know how to, and I’ve never done it before”. That was Anna's response when I asked her if she would like to use the Navigators’ 1+1 mentoring resource with me in February. She agreed to consider the idea, so we began discussing what discipling another person was about.
I think it’s easy to assume you need training or resources to disciple someone, and that this is best left to Christian workers like Navigators staff. But Anna quickly saw that she had all she needed to disciple someone else – her love for Jesus, her bible, and the willingness to have a go.
We sat down together to consider who was on her heart. Anna told me that she would love to encourage her sister-in-law who she felt was in a hard place in her faith journey and who had questions. We used the Mentoring section of The Backpack (Navigator resource) to discuss how to get started. Soon after this, Anna was out walking with her sister-in-law and felt overwhelmingly that the moment had arrived to invite her sister-in-law to read the Bible together. The response was an emphatic “yes!”
It has been so exciting to see how God has gently encouraged Anna along the way. While it felt risky to ask initially, Anna is excited to begin investing in her sister-in-laws faith.
God wants to use each one of us to encourage others in their walk with Jesus. However, knowing who to invest in and how to get started can be a barrier to us feeling like this is something that we can do. As we will see below, in the first of a two-part story from Stefi, there are a few key practices that will help you as you take this faith step.
"My friend and I have been meeting regularly over the last couple of years. God opened the door for this to happen as I was willing to pray for my friend and engage with her at a deeper level. I saw she really needed support to connect more deeply with Jesus as she faced a separation and the resulting financial stress. She recommitted her life to God as her need became apparent. I asked if she would like to meet to pray and ask God for help. We agreed to do that, did the same the following week and then just continued in that pattern. This felt like the right thing to do but also took a bit of a faith step on my part.
Looking back now, I can see that the opportunity to invest in my friend arose from my willingness to serve for her benefit and to be a good friend (not for what was in it for me). My test for myself as I went along was, "Is my life showing love to her as described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7?"
This story from Stefi demonstrates some helpful ways to get started with investing in the faith journey of someone else.
- Prayer - Pray for the people in your life. Ask God to open your eyes and put on your heart someone for you to invest in. Prayer also opens the hearts of people to be receptive to God's work in their lives.
- Let love be your primary motivator
- Look for opportunities to invite someone to bring God into whatever situation they are going through. Be intentional.
- Start simple - an invitation to pray with someone for what they're struggling with or perhaps saying something like, "That sounds really difficult, I'd love to support you in this. I wonder if you'd like to meet up again and look at what the Bible has to say about it?"
- It's going to take a step of faith and courage, trusting God to lead you and use you to encourage someone else.
Remember that God has entrusted the sharing of the gospel and the making of disciples into the hands of ordinary men and women, just like you
After meeting for 2 years to pray and discuss the Bible together, things have become more challenging. My friend is now less keen to meet. On becoming more financially stable, she now wants to earn more in her business and be more "successful" in her friends' eyes. She feels the lure of trusting in other more popularly accepted help than Jesus. She is abundantly exposed to alternatives through her friends. Plus, she has now also reconnected with an old friend (over the internet) and become romantically involved. This not bad in itself but probably takes the edge off her felt need for Jesus and for journeying with other believers.
I am currently watching in alarm! Is it time to walk away? To rush in with help? It would be easy to respond in a way that might be reactive but would be less than loving. The challenge is to keep holding the relationship in an open hand, keep applying the 1 Corinthians love measure, and be willing to do what God prompts me. The situation is an eye opener to the spiritual battle that's going and for God's call for me to be engaged in prayer at that level.
Perseverance in prayer, love and service will be part of our journey when we invest in the spiritual growth of others. Stefi is mindful of how she can bring the truth of Jesus and the love of Jesus to her friend. She is also praying with others for this friend who is still very much on her heart.
This inspiring story reveals the power of taking a personal interest in someone, something we can all do. By looking to God and following His leading, Janet becomes part of significant growth in her friend's life.
Some years ago, I realised I had become an older woman, and that the Lord wanted to use me to encourage younger women, as in Titus 2. As I looked back, I saw I had been incredibly blessed over the years by several women who had been a significant influence in my life. I have learned that younger women are like older women - we all appreciate someone taking an interest in us!
Earlier this year I felt prompted by God to ask Ali, a young woman I have known for a while, out for coffee. I wasn’t quite sure why I should, and true to form, I procrastinated! However, when I got round to asking her, she was very enthusiastic! Before we met, I was praying that God would direct conversation, and give me wisdom in what I said. We had a lovely time and at the end, Ali asked me, somewhat tentatively, if I would help her find out about God! Wow!
We organised to meet again, and I began praying in earnest! Since I wasn’t quite sure where Ali was in her understanding of God, I wanted a couple of options up my sleeve. After praying, and talking to a friend, I decided to use a little booklet by Nicky Gumbel, ‘Why Jesus?’ If appropriate, I thought we could progress to the ‘Alpha’ videos. I also bought her a bible and a notebook.
We met and discussed lots of questions that came up from reading ‘Why Jesus?’ After about 3 sessions Ali invited Jesus into her life. Since then, we have been meeting regularly, doing bible studies for young Christians, talking about life issues, and praying together. Ali is learning about quiet times and is also in the process of finding a church.
It is a real privilege to walk alongside this young woman as she begins her life with Jesus. At times I feel quite overwhelmed with ‘all the things that Ali needs to learn!’. Then I remember that she is God’s daughter, and He takes prime responsibility for her. My task is to keep praying, continue to encourage, and read the bible with her as I am able.
Janet and Ali's story reminds us that God is the One doing the work - first prompting Janet to connect with Ali and giving Janet the resources she needed to encourage and help this younger woman in her faith. As Janet says, remembering that Ali is God's daughter and that He is primarily responsible for the growth in Ali's life freed Janet up to come alongside Ali and do her part.
Who is God prompting you to take an interest in? Can you pray and trust God to help you to come alongside someone else in their faith journey?
In the Navigators we often use the phrase "life-to-life" when we talk about discipleship. This is the idea that sharing the Gospel and helping someone grow in their faith comes out of sharing our own lives with others and walking faithfully alongside them through the ups and downs of life. We see this demonstrated in the following story of Hannah and her friend Penny.
Hannah and Penny initially began meeting together because they shared similar professions and could help each other with professional development. As they started meeting regularly their discussions broadened to other areas of life where they were able to share honestly with each other. As Hannah says, "If you hang out with people long enough, life will get messy - yours and theirs! This gives you a chance to talk about things honestly and more deeply." From the basis of this deepening relationship, it wasn't that difficult for Hannah to ask questions such as "Do you believe in God?" and "Where do you think God might be in this?"
Through these conversations, Hannah learned that Penny had grown up with a view of God as perfectionist and authoritarian in nature. Penny saw herself as unable to measure up to this perfection and she didn't trust God. Over the years, as Hannah and Penny journeyed together in friendship, Penny experienced several crises in relationships and work. Although she initially blamed God for these things, eventually Penny was able to see how much she needed God and made the decision to put her trust in Him.
Penny was initially not very interested in reading the Bible with Hannah, despite Hannah's invitation. When she later agreed to read the Bible at the suggestion of a mutual friend, she quickly grasped the value of it and even asked Hannah, "Why didn't we do this earlier?!"
20 years since they first met, Hannah and Penny continue to meet weekly by phone to study the Bible and share life together. Hannah says, "Our conversations are very honest, and I find Penny just as helpful and encouraging for me as I am for her. I'm her friend, I'm not her leader. So, when she's made choices that have not been so wise, I've been sad. But she hasn't judged me, and I haven't judged her. We've walked together."
As we can see from Hannah's story, genuine love and friendship, combined with the sharing of real life over many years, formed an authentic context for sharing the Gospel. Within this context, Hannah was able to ask questions and share truth at the right times. Having a vision for seeing her friend come to know Christ enabled Hannah to be faithfully present through the seasons of life.
For prayer and reflection:
Ask God to give you genuine love for your friends and a vision by faith to see them grow in their relationship with Jesus.
How might God be prompting you to be faithfully present with someone else?
Investing in the faith journey of someone else can seem daunting. We wonder if we could really offer anything of value to someone else amid our own busy lives. In the following story, Merodie reflects on what it looks like to invest in the life of someone else, even in the busyness of life and motherhood.
I decided in my 20s that I would always be meeting with at least one other person to encourage them because discipling seems to be one of the key ways Jesus engages with his followers and builds his kingdom. It felt achievable. It’s just one person. It’s a commitment but it’s not massive - maybe an hour or two every 4-6 weeks. And it’s an investment in the next generation – important given "we’re only ever one generation away from extinction"*.
I started meeting with Kathryn before I got pregnant. We mostly just meet and chat - "How are you and Jesus? What’s God been teaching you? How’s things going with work/your workmates? How’s your marriage? Where do you see God at work among your friends? Who are you praying for?" We haven’t focused on anything particular in the Bible yet, but stuff comes up along the way. It became a bit more challenging to meet when I had Hugo. It felt strange for Kathryn to always have to come to me rather than going to meet her in her world. At times when we met, Hugo would be lying on a blanket between us and I’d be jiggling toys to keep him entertained while praying. When he was a bit older, I’d try and line her up to come during nap time – a bit hit and miss with an unreliable sleeper.
It can feel like a big sacrifice to meet with someone. When I’ve had no rest and our house is out of control, choosing to invite someone into our home when I could be napping is a sacrifice. Often it doesn’t feel like your time has added anything significant. But I’m learning to trust that God is the one at work in her, and his grace is sufficient for me. My job is just to pray, to care and to be faithfully present. Just asking people questions helps solidify what God is teaching them. Simply because they have to articulate it. It helps us keep focused on where he is at work in our everyday lives and relationships. And God has this amazing way of weaving together our journeys with him, in a way that edifies us both.
To be honest I feel like I’ve been doing a terrible job at mentoring Kathryn. I don’t have the headspace and energy for praying for her and thinking ahead that I used to. I often feel very unprepared. It’s all a bit chaotic and last minute. But perhaps one day when she’s a Mum of small kids she will think to herself, this is far from ideal and a big sacrifice but perhaps if God could use Merodie’s faithfulness in that season of life, he can also use mine.
*one of my favourite quotes from Glen Morris.
What about this story encourages you?
Is there a next step God is prompting you to take with someone?
For 1 ½ years Juliet and I have prayed every week with 4 friends. We started praying together soon after the first lockdown in April 2020 with the desire to pray for one another and the people we are reaching out to. As we prayed together this week, I realised in a fresh way the power of this encouragement and prayer.
Meeting regularly with likeminded people has encouraged me to keep reaching out to others. As I hear stories of how my friends are serving sacrificially and taking steps of faith to share Jesus with others, I am inspired to do the same. We often start with someone reading a short passage of scripture and briefly commenting on this. Hearing God's word and then praying together encourages me.
We are seeing God transform people we are each involved with from the inside out. At many points in time this change has appeared slow or non-existent in the lives of those we are reaching out to. Our response has been to persist in prayer for the people God has put on our hearts. Looking back, we have seen relationships with those we are reaching out to deepen and people respond positively to God and his word. We all have the sense that praying together has and is a very important part of Jesus’ kingdom growing in the lives of those God has placed us amongst.
I believe praying regularly with a small group of likeminded people for those God has placed us amongst is a key aspect of labouring and our 1+1 initiative. As Paul expresses in 1 Corinthians 3, “we are co-workers in God’s service.” God wants us to be more like a rowing team than individual competitors.
Who could you pray with regularly for the people God has put on your heart and placed you amongst?