International (MNN) — We talk a lot about reaching out to others in our lives who don’t know Christ, but that can be easier said than done. You may not even know how to start a conversation about God or the Gospel. But Ron Hutchcraft of Ron Hutchcraft Ministries says there’s something very simple you can start with to talk about Jesus Christ, and it’s not whipping out your WWJD bracelet.
“I think as we’re trying to reach a world for Christ, we need to realize that one of the most powerful tools we have to reach a lost world is to begin with a story. And in many cases, it might even be our own story of how Christ has changed our life and what a difference he makes in our lonely times, in our stressful times, and what difference Jesus makes when there’s bad news from the doctor, and when you’re single and wanting to be married, and when you’re married and you’re struggling in your marriage, and what difference Jesus makes at the cemetery. Tell me how your Jesus changes things. That’s your hope story.”
But what is it about our personal stories connected with God’s story that can speak to the heart of someone else? “Here’s what a story does,” says Hutchcraft. “It goes around your objection, it goes around the walls that you put around your heart, and it somehow sneaks in the backdoor and opens up a heart.”
For inspiration in sharing stories as a means of communicating truths, we need look no further than the Bible.
“If you go back to the Old Testament, the prophet Nathan had a very challenging, possibly even dangerous assignment to confront King David with his adultery and with the conspiracy to murder Bathsheba’s husband. If you go to the king with news like that, that might be the last message you ever deliver. How do you do it? When he goes to David, he doesn’t walk in right away and say, ‘Boy, you really messed up, king.’ He tells a story about a man with a big flock of sheep who went and stole from a farmer who only had one little sheep. David is incensed and says, ‘That guy deserves to be punished!’ Then Nathan says, ‘You are the man, you are the one who stole one little guy’s sheep when you had all the flock.’ Wow. Well, David began to repent at that point. But this hard message was delivered in a story.”
Even Jesus communicated deep spiritual truths from the Heavenly Father through stories. “You tell me what all these things have in common, let me give you a list: the prodigal son, the lost sheep, the lost coin, the foolish man who built his house upon the sand…. They are all stories, and we know who told them: the master teacher, Jesus did. For two thousand years, those stories — cultures have changed, countries are different, languages are different — but around the world the stories break through and bring the truth that might seem kind of ‘up in the clouds’ to people, it brings it right down to where they live…. We learned this from Jesus, that the story is the way that will open up hearts.”
Hutchcraft has witnessed the power of the personal story firsthand in missions to Native America. He says, “Four percent [of Native Americans] are estimated to know Christ after 400 years of missions; very hard to break through to. But I’ve watched Native American young people on our teams, and we’ve talked about this before, as they tell their hope stories of the life they had without Christ and the life they have because of Jesus, it just opens up hearts that were never open before and there are breakthroughs that seem to be unprecedented in 400 years of Indian missions.”
You may wonder if you even have much of a story to share. It may not be as radical as somebody else’s story. You may feel ashamed by your story’s history or wonder if it would even make a difference.
Hutchcraft says every single one of us has a story, but ultimately it’s not about us. It’s about how Jesus Christ stepped into our story, and the whole reason we share our story is to point to our Heavenly Father.
“You have a story. Your life is a story. And your relationship with Jesus is a story. How has Jesus changed your story? How is He changing your story right now? If you want to know how to break through to a lost person…whether it’s a person you work with or go to school with, someone you’re in a club with, you recreate with, or in your family — well, they can’t argue with your hope story can they.”
But it takes more than just talking on your end. Sharing your story also means you embrace empathy and listen to others’ stories as well.
“If you listen long enough to hear their story, which wins you the right to tell your story, which gives the opportunity to tell His story and how His story (which happened on the cross and that empty tomb) changed your story and could change their story forever — the life changing power of a story linked to the greatest message in all of history, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that’s a winning combination.”