The Mask of Hostility
- 2002 28 Oct
It was at Wheaton College in Illinois, a great Christian institution. We were holding a Lay Institute for Evangelism where we gave training in how to live a Spirit-filled life and how to share one's faith in Christ. Part of the training was dedicated to an afternoon of actual witnessing, door to door in the local community.
A good friend of mine, a professor at the college, approached us, "I want to go with you, Bill. You're the professional." My friend thought that since I had taught thousands of people how to witness more effectively, perhaps some of the "magic" would rub off on him.
I don't know why the Lord allowed it, but it turned out to be absolutely the worst witnessing experience I have ever had in my entire Christian life. We were almost bodily thrown out of one house. Another listener reacted very angrily. We didn't see one single person who was interested in even talking with us. We hit an incredibly unexplainable streak of "no's" all afternoon.
Maybe God wanted to encourage my friend by illustrating that even Bill Bright, the so-called professional, a supposed "natural" at witnessing, didn't have any power to lead anyone to the Lord unless God Himself did it. In over 50 years of sharing my faith, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of hostile rejections that I remember. But a good portion of them seemed to hit all at once on that day!
Had we failed that day in our witnessing? No. The only failure in witnessing is the failure to witness. Out job is to witness, the Holy Spirit's role is to reveal Christ and perform the miracle of the new birth.
We cannot allow what may appear as an unsuccessful witnessing experience discourage us. In some of the worst situations, the Holy Spirit can give us just the right words to say.
Once after I had spoken on a college campus, a young man cornered me. He glared at me as he proclaimed, "I don't believe in God, I don't believe in the Bible, and I don't believe in Christ and Christianity."
We talked for awhile, and then I felt led to ask: "Do I discern correctly, Ken, that the real reason you've come to me tonight is that you really want to know God personally?"
Ken leaned back in his chair and admitted, "Yes, I do." That night, I had the privilege of helping this sharp young man receive Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord. As we parted, he said to me, "Mr. Bright, thank you for not letting my big mouth prevent you from discerning my real need and showing me the truth."
From my experience, I can assure you that this is a common occurrence. Apparent hostility is often simply a smokescreen to hide a deep-down desire for God.
Dr. Bill Bright is founder and chairman of Campus Crusade for Christ, an organization that began as a campus ministry in 1951 and now has more than 25,000 full-time staff and 553,000 trained volunteer staff in 196 countries in areas representing 99.6 percent of the world's population. Dr. Bright recently co-founded Global Pastors Network to "Touch, Teach and Train" ministers around the world 24/7/365 at
Copyright (c) 2002, Bill Bright. All rights reserved. However, readers may copy and distribute this message as desired, without restrictions in number, as long as the content is not altered. For many free evangelistic and spiritual growth materials, visit the Campus Crusade for Christ Web site at http://www.ccci.org. See http://www.newlifepubs.com for Bill Bright's own materials.