For the past several months I leave work every third Thursday and drive into downtown to the cancer center attached to one of our local hospitals. I meet my wife there in the lobby and send her off to have her blood drawn — then we wait till she is called back into treatment area to receive her IV of various chemicals that combat the cancer in her body.
During the past few sessions I have noticed some things that can help us in our evangelism if we apply the principles.
1. People are generally friendly if greeted warmly.
I have seen some patients come through the doors whose expressions and body language simply scream suffering and difficulty. The natural reaction is to leave them alone and don’t speak. But the care coordinator for the facility (Tim) is always quick with a friendly greeting and broad smile. It has been amazing to watch how the most withdrawn and seemingly unresponsive person will open up and enter into a lively conversation because Tim simply refuses to allow them to pass by silently.
2. Suffering people respond to those who really care.
There are several nurses who work in this facility. Most of them are genuinely caring and take the time to learn a bit about each patient and talk about their concerns, difficulties, joys, and triumphs. However — there is one who seems to be more concerned about talking about her life and her difficulties. She gives the impression of one who wants to get the procedure over with as quickly as possible and move on.
Patients really open up and respond to the nurses who show an interest. I have actually heard a patient request to NOT be treated by the one who is self absorbed.
3. Facing reality with Hope.
These caregivers don’t sugar coat. They speak the truth about the disease, and about what the cure may cost (financially, physically, emotionally). Even as they paint the “worst case scenario” they hold out hope. They offer care and concern for helping the patient survive. 24/7 phone numbers are given. Helpful tips for minimizing suffering are offered. Willingness to talk and provide support is evident. The attitude is one of “we’ll get through this together”.
When we think about evangelism we too often get caught up in worrying about having the right answers — or saying the right thing. The reality is that many of those we deal with daily have a life consuming cancer known as sin. They need us to simply:
Be their friend
Really Care about their welfare