Because we loved you, it was a joy to us to give you not only the Gospel of God but our very hearts—so dear did you become to us. 1 Thessalonian 2:8 (Phillips)
At the time, Khishai was 14 years old, the oldest of four. Two years earlier, her mother died suddenly and the children were being raised by a grandmother, as there was no father in the picture. We met Khishai through a ministry that Kathy and I started called Deaf Teen Quest that brought teenagers together for fun, friendship, fellowship, faith.
On this particular day, Khishai ate dinner with us following a scheduled event. Our table is round and she sat alongside our other children and quietly observed as we sat down, put food on the table, prayed, and started eating. Kathy and I asked each of the kids about their day, how was school, what was coming up… basic table conversation (which unfortunately didn’t always happen this smoothly). At one point, Khishai sat up and said, almost to herself, “You wait for each other, you brought food, you prayed, you talk to each other… I’ve never experienced this before… and I like it!” Over the next year, Khishai made a personal faith commitment and her heart continues to burns with a desire to serve Jesus.
Khishai grew up in a loving family but since she is the only deaf person in her family, so like many others, her life was impacted by isolation. There is only one child born with hearing loss for every 1,000 hearing children. Only two of ten are born into language-rich, signing environments; 80% of the families of deaf children cannot sign. Deaf Teen Quest creates opportunities for caring, Christian adults to enter the world of deaf and hard of hearing teenagers, with the grace and truth of Jesus Christ.
“Because we loved you…” Personal ministry is entering the world of lost and hurting people because we care and God calls. We don’t need all the answers; we go with the “answer-giver,” the Holy Spirit. We are just called to go and keep open hearts.
“… it was a joy to us to give you not only the Gospel of God…” Personal ministry is simply being honest about what we’ve learned, experienced, or read about God in the scriptures or from other dependable sources. We don’t have permission to make it up; we pass it on, in a context that makes sense for each unique person or people group.
“…but our very hearts—so dear did you become to us.” Personal ministry is about removing barriers to the Gospel. Lack of trust is often one of the major obstacles. People are not projects, they are image-bearers of our God. Love them longer than they can hurt; pursue them farther than they can run. Do this because you love them.
Personal ministry is about opening our hearts to others. We all have insecurities, doubts, and fears when it comes to sharing our story with people who do not yet know Jesus. God’s story is woven into our story so it is natural to share this part as well. For me, it helps to remember that I do not have to convince or convict anyone of their sin. This is the role of the Holy Spirit. As followers of Jesus, we simply have to go, listen, love, and be honest. Our responsibility is to create space for the Holy Spirit to move. We trust God to do what only God can do.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as inviting someone to your dinner table.