“I’m Afraid To Witness”
Fear of witnessing is a reality that the bible addresses. Even the Apostles Peter and John needed prayer to be enabled to speak God’s word with great boldness. However, I do not believe that their fears were things like fear of rejection, losing a friend or looking stupid. These things are supposed to be irrelevant to a believer. Their fears were the horrific, fatal consequences that their testimony would bring.
Acts 4:29 – Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Christians in the first century weren’t just being rejected or losing friends for sharing their faith. Their lives were being threatened. Think about what it would be like if you saw Jesus arrested, beaten, spit on, tortured, and crucified in agonizing pain because of His message. Then think about what you would feel like the moment before you went out and proclaimed that same message in public. This is why they needed to pray for great boldness to speak the word. Their prayer was graciously answered –
“and they were all filled with the Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly” (Acts 4:31).
To give a glimpse of the type of boldness that I believe the Apostles prayed for, read these excerpts from the testimony of a modern day Christian who needed great boldness to share His faith.
(The following story is true, and is excerpted from an article titled “Christ Suffers With Me” by Steven Lear, on The Voice of the Martyrs Magazine; Special Issue 2010)
“Choi Young Hun began working with North Korean defectors in 1997. He witnessed the starvation and hopelessness on the faces of those walking over the frozen Yalu River in China and felt God leading him to bring them a message of eternal hope…
…”I knew that the Chinese authorities would one day imprison me, and I had already made up my mind to evangelize to Chinese authorities, guards, judges, soldiers and fellow prisoners if I were arrested and imprisoned.” On Jan. 18, 2003, Choi’s expectation became reality…
He was arrested and sentenced to five years in a Chinese prison. He was interrogated and tortured every day of his first three months in prison. The questions were repeated over and over. “Why are you helping these people?” “Who is working with you?” “Are you a Christian?”
Choi’s answer, he believes was inspired by God, and it became the foundation of his position. “Yes, I am a Christian,” he replied. “I believe in only one God. As his servant, I serve him alone. According to his word, I have done a righteous work.”
After nearly a year in prison, Choi was able to smuggle a letter to his family. He told them he was okay, told them it was God’s plan for him to be imprisoned and asked them to pray for him.
After being transferred to WePang Prison Camp on Christmas day of 2003, Choi had greater opportunities to evangelize his fellow cell mates. Many became believers, and they secretly began to make crosses and distribute them to Christian prisoners. They also held secret worship services within the prison. When authorities learned of the worship services, they increased the surveillance and beatings. Choi was labeled “very dangerous,” and interrogators began to inject him and other Christian prisoners with various drugs to break their spirit. “The guards told me to keep quiet. I told the guards, ‘If I didn’t share the gospel I wouldn’t be a Christian.’ They said, ‘There is no God. Jesus does not exist. No one can protect you in this situation.’ I did not respond to their words. I decided instead to rely on God and to pray. I was in tremendous pain from their continued beating. I then cried out, ‘God does exist. He was raised from the dead and is coming soon! The Bible is truth.’” Choi’s suffering continued, and he almost reached a breaking point. He did not know how much longer he could endure. The other Christian prisoners witnessed his pain and began praying fervently for him.”
Can you see the difference in Choi’s need for boldness, and our need for boldness? When he was being tortured, “he almost reached a breaking point”. All he would have to do is comply with the accusers by denying Christ, even if he didn’t really mean it, and the torture would stop. That is when the other prisoners began praying fervently for him. I can’t imagine the intensity of Choi’s struggle to stay bold for the Lord. I believe that the early church Christians experienced the same type of struggles and fears, which is why they needed to pray for great boldness.
People today all over the world have similar stories of having to stand firm in their faith in the midst of severe torture and persecution. When you think about their fears, it makes our fears in America seem miniscule, and even pathetic. In America, someone may beat a Christian up for sharing their faith, and the police would arrest the person for assault. In other parts of the world, someone may beat a Christian up for sharing their faith, and the police would not only join in, but also arrest and torture the Christian until they renounce Christ or die. Yet they still openly proclaim the gospel. Is it a possibility that maybe they have something that we don’t? Maybe they truly understand what we are here for. Maybe they can truly see the gospel and its glory.
Our Fears Are Small, But Real
Even though our fears are feeble in comparison to other Christians around the world, we still have them. We need to pray for boldness, and then step out in faith trusting that God will give it to us. Don’t expect God to zap you with courage; it doesn’t work like that. When I have prayed for patience, God did not instantaneously give me a sense of patience. I didn’t feel anything. Instead, He allowed me to go through a situation in which my patience could be tested, and I would have to rely on His Spirit. Many times, the principle is the same when praying for courage to be a witness. There have been a few times to where I’ve had a special feeling that is hard to explain wherein there was nothing and no one that could stop me from preaching the gospel, but don’t expect to wake up and feel like witnessing to the first person you see after one time of praying for boldness. Your flesh, the world, and the enemy will do everything they can to get you out of sharing the gospel. Many times, the courage comes when you step out. For some reason, my nerves are still on edge before I go witnessing. I can relate to Ray Comfort when he says “I go out dragging my feet and come back clicking my heels”. I think that it’s a good thing, and hope that it never goes away. It keeps me reliant on God; because if He doesn’t show up, I’m in trouble.
It’s a good thing that He is a good God who is faithful to His word which says
“do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:19-20).
So Remember, being courageous enough to share the gospel doesn’t require an absence of fear, but rather an overcoming of it. That means that your fears are real, and probably won’t go away – but God will give you the strength to do what needs to be done if you surrender yourself to do His work. Pray for courage, and step out in faith believing God will give it to you.