Wheatbags at the abortion clinic, and hospital visits: being kind is pre-evangelism

People taking

Charles Brammall column on the power of chat

All encounters with people are “grist for the mill” for future conversations about Jesus, so treat all people with love. Open the door for them – women, men and children – say hello and smile, introduce yourself and try remembering their names next time.

A clever strategy: my friend Tim Mildenhall, an Anglican minister, when a non-Christian asks him what Christians believe about something, says, “Well, the Guy I follow says…” This does a couple of things: it puts Jesus in the driver’s seat and shows that ultimately what I happen to believe is unimportant. The only thing that counts is what Jesus says. Secondly, it can work as a teaser because people may not know who “the person you follow” is and have to ask.

​When I was working at a church in Artarmon, and we were having a holiday kids club, we went around all the businesses in the main drag, asking if we could put up posters in their windows. I came to one first-floor business which said “Women’s Health Centre”, and went up the stairs. It turned out to offer a range of Gynaecological services, including abortions (which very few people in Artarmon knew about). They were happy to put up our poster, which was kind of them. Back at church, I chatted with a lady in our congregation who was a GP with an interest in Ethics. She came up with a splendid idea:

Could someone in our congregation donate about a hundred wheat bags (the kind you heat up in the microwave for sore joints), and could we have a message printed on them by a local Christian printer who kindly donated his work, saying, “With Love from Artarmon Community Church xx”, and our website. Then, when each lady came out of her procedure, she could be given one of our wheat bags so that her first post-abortion encounter with Christians was warm and welcoming and loving. We intended this to be in contrast to what her expectations of Christians might be – self-righteous, critical and judgemental. But sadly this just remained an idea.

Hospital outreach: If you’re on your church’s staff or a leader, visit youth group kids (with their parent’s permission) and other people in the hospital.

I once went to visit one of the youth group girls with Anorexia in Westmead Kids, and she and her parents were very grateful and became even more favourably disposed towards us. 

I also visited an elderly chap who had had a heart attack in St Vincent’s. To this day, he still expresses his joy, surprise and gratitude for the visit. He will be an ally forever and is even more enthused about introducing people to Jesus himself as a result.           

Chats of kindness: Try not to get frustrated about having conversations that are not about Jesus with non-Christian friends or that don’t seem to be going anywhere. 

Be committed to talking to them about anything (even trivia), but better still;volunteer things about yourself that are more personal and significant and meaningful. 

Any conversation is “grist for the mill” for the Gospel and makes it likely that if the “wheels fall off” in their life or they have a question about Christianity/religion, they will raise it with you. 

Every conversation is a valuable conversation, long term. God sees things in the long term, and it’s great for us to do so too.

I try to make a fuss over people’s birthdays at the dog park (but you can only do that if you have your ears open to hear when they or others say the birthday is coming up, then ask them the date). It’s appropriate to be a little bit “bolshy” for the Gospel like this. If you can,  give them little, neutral gifts if it’s appropriate. This will give them a positive experience of being a Christian, and hopefully make them favourably disposed to Jesus.

Image credit:  Candace McDaniel /stocksnap.io
Correction: As originally written this story said the wheatbag idea actually happened. Sadly it just remained an idea.