“Christians are never able to answer me when I ask them questions about their faith.”
This was Alicia’s response to a question about whether or not she knew any Christians and what her impression of them was.
While sitting in the cafeteria at Roosevelt University in Chicago, Alicia had already told our friends Malissa and Allison that her parents were forced to go to church when they were young and believed that their kids should decide for themselves.
This is something we hear from students all the time. A whole generation that has been left directionless in regards to faith—they’re expected to somehow figure it out for themselves.
Malissa and Allison asked Alicia what the greatest influences on her beliefs were and she said it was her professors. She told them how her philosophy professor and others on campus clearly held an atheist worldview. Alicia thought they were “wise and made sense” and presented the kind of evidence she was looking for. She’d found that the Christians couldn’t give her real answers and would tell her that she just needed to have faith, leaving this very intelligent young woman very dissatisfied.
Malissa shared with us later that she didn’t expect much to come of this conversation but was surprised when Alicia candidly admitted she had no idea what Jesus message really was.
They asked if they could share with her the basic story of the Bible and the good news Jesus talked about and she eagerly agreed. Malissa says, “Sometimes I share from my own story, sometimes I share using the Bible, but often I use the simple booklet, Would You Like to Know God Personally? It walks through a four-point outline of the gospel message using Scripture and diagrams. It helps the conversation stay on track and gives me something to leave with the person I’m talking to so they can digest it at their own pace.
“Alicia had one of the most honest responses to this booklet I’ve ever seen. With no church background, it was obvious she was hearing everything for the first time. When we were talking about our sin condition she said, ‘so you’re saying that if someone lived a life without sin they would have to be God.’ Allison and I caught each others eye and turned the page that talked about Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death in our place. Alicia had honestly never heard about Jesus. When I described that this gift of salvation was freely offered to her and that God wanted a relationship with her she was genuinely surprised. She said, ‘This is a lot to digest. I’ve never heard this.’”
Malissa and Allison continued to talk about the fact that being a Christian doesn’t have to mean checking your brain at the door and encouraged her in her desire to learn more before making any kind of decision. They parted with the expectation of meeting up again.
This is why we do this. It’s students like Alicia. This 18-year-old is not likely to step foot in a church anytime soon. She’s tried to ask other Christians about their faith. It was a reminder that God can use strangers, taking steps of faith to start a conversation, to share the gospel with someone who has never heard the good news.
Going Deeper: Having conversations about Jesus can sometimes leave us feeling unprepared. It helps to have some questions in your pocket to spur dialog. See what questions we regularly ask and that you can use too.