During my TREK training, God taught me something about confidence. In different ways, he challenged me to deal with my fears and to be more confident in everything that I did. When I took the time to be silent before God, he brought me to verses in the Bible about putting my trust in him.
One of my favorites was 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.” I realized that if I was covered by the love of Christ, then I did not need to give in to fear. During our sessions on spiritual authority, I was encouraged to believe that God could use me as I stepped out and took risks for him.
I’m a bit of an introvert. So, one day during training, when they told us that we would be going to the mall to witness to strangers, I was nervous. I had never really shared my faith before. To be honest, I didn’t really think I could do it. I thought that I would waste the time by standing around and avoiding people. But deep in my heart, I wanted to give it a try. I wanted to have the courage to glorify Christ and make him known to others.
My first attempt went badly. I was unprepared, and it showed by how quickly the conversation ended. It did not last more than thirty seconds! But after shaking off my failure, I started gaining confidence. Once I got past the initial nervousness, I began to find out that I enjoyed talking to people, and it became easier to engage with strangers.
I wasn’t sure how this experience during training would help prepare me for my assignment in France. But, as it turned out, a huge part of our ministry in Paris was distributing Gospel literature on the streets and in public markets and talking to people about our faith in Jesus. The team that we joined in France had found out, to their surprise, that this type of ministry was highly effective and often gave them further opportunity to build relationships with the people they met.
Still, I wasn’t particularly excited about street ministry. I kept thinking that it wasn’t for me. I had overcome some obstacles in my own culture, but now I was going up against other barriers of language and culture. In Paris, I had to use my limited French, and I was encountering people not only from France but from all over North Africa. In addition to that, most of the North Africans were strong Muslims and they were often very confident in what they believed. Some of them were well equipped to defend their beliefs and even to attack mine.
At first, I was intimidated and frustrated. But I was pushed to prayer. I knew that I needed God’s help to be brave and to know what to say. I knew that it wasn’t just up to me to convince people about Jesus’ true identity – that belonged to the Holy Spirit. The more I prayed, the more I grew in confidence. Soon, I was telling myself, “I can do this!” And the more I stepped out and engaged people on the streets, the more I realized how much I enjoyed it.
On one occasion, a man approached me in the market. I was happy to learn that he spoke English. He was a Muslim and we started talking about the identity of Jesus. Then he asked me plainly, “What is the Gospel?” I was shocked! But I was also thrilled to have an opportunity to share openly what I believed with someone who not only spoke my language but was eager to listen. We talked for almost two hours! I received an email from him soon after I returned to Canada, and I hope to stay in contact with him.
By the end of our assignment in France, I absolutely loved the time that we spent getting into conversations and talking to people about Jesus, especially with those who had never heard the message of the Gospel.
As I look back on my time in TREK, I see what God did in my heart. I had expected to be stretched and challenged in different ways, but God surprised me by helping me not just to endure the challenges, but to thrive in the midst of them. God gave me courage and joy in the place of fear and he helped me find satisfaction and success in doing what he had called me to do.