Tea in fine bone China, coffee at Esme’s and the gospel

tea in fine bone china

Charles Brammall’s column What I Learned by Making Every Mistake in the Book as A Christian

When I was being trained in ministry, I visited a lovely elderly chap who I will call Gwynn, a retired British Army colonel. His home was full of his uniforms, bayonets, mounted trophies, war memorabilia, cases and cases of dusty antique books, Chesterfield lounges, and cigar boxes. It was my kind of place, and he was my kind of guy. Geoff wasn’t a believer. We became dear friends, and over many visits and untold cups of tea out of fine Bone China, we chatted about Jesus. He couldn’t come at the idea of assurance of our salvation because of God’s grace alone.

He just wasn’t sure. He hoped he’d been a “good Anglican” and hoped he’d done enough, but he could never be sure God would accept him into Heaven. We debated this vigorously, and the friendship grew even more. I eventually moved on from that church and said goodbye with many hugs, but with a twinkle in his eye, he said, “You’ll still never convert me to your way of thinking. If Heaven is a free gift as you claim, I’m not sure I’ll ever deserve it.”

He had done things and seen things in war that humans should never be expected to do or see, and he felt tremendous guilt. Many years went by, and one day, I received a letter from the minister of that church:

“Dear Charlie,

I’m writing about the death last week of your old friend Gwynn M…, whose funeral is today. When he was still alive, he did not stop talking about what Jesus did for him, and it was great to know his self-doubt does not seem to have won! We spoke of Jesus, prayed together, and thanked God for your kindness in evangelising him. He was always very appreciative of this Charlie. I think the funeral will be a little tricky- his son A… is a JW and has given me a script! You might pray for my contact with him and his sister S… We can rejoice Gwynn is now with the LORD and free from all pain. 

Your brother, D…

Wow. Just wow. What a God we have!

A friend of mine at uni would routinely have her coffee in “Esme’s”, the Arts Faculty cafe, and sit down beside someone, invite them to sit with her or ask if the seat beside them was free. She would introduce herself, ask how they were, what subjects they were doing, etc. She would pray simultaneously that God would provide an opportunity to chat about Jesus. He invariably answered her prayer, and as she “gossiped God”, she was eventually able to say something like “Do you have any interest in Christianity?” or “Are you a churchgoer?” etc.

At that point, she would ask them if they would like to see a four-minute summary of what the Bible says it means to be a Christian, in pictures. If they agreed, she would draw the Two Ways to Live (2WTL) pictures, verses, and text for them (she always came prepared with paper and pen). She saw people eventually surrender to Jesus!  I always recommend initially drawing the 2WTL summary for people, as it’s much more accessible and friendly for them than reading the booklet together- another reason to memorise it! 

I’m sure my friend must have shared the Gospel with at least 100 people over the years, bless her heart.  If you work in a place where you see/walk past lots of people every day (a tradie, school teacher, barista, admin person, tuck shop lady, etc.), pray each time you see them that every single one of them would surrender to  Jesus (it doesn’t matter if you don’t know their names) as you walk past. All you have to say is a quick “Dear Father, please help them become a Christian.” I have 1500 kids at my school and 150 other staff! So it’s a great opportunity. 

A good way in to chat to a friend about Jesus is to tell them you’re learning/being trained in a simple, quick way to explain what it means to be a Christian, using colours or pictures, and would you be able to practise it with them then get their feedback on it? If they agree, take them through The Wordless Book, 2WTL, or another summary, and always aim to finish with the “endgame”. I.e. which way would they like to be living? Which way are they living now? Would they like to make the change? And if so, pray with them, or ask if they’d like to read a chapter of the Bible together sometime. I am about to do this with a work colleague who identifies as a Christian and would assent to orthodox Christian beliefs, so I’m praying it will be a great opportunity. 

Image credit; Pikist.com