“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded of you,” Matthew 28:16-20.
When Zari Wilson, a current first year intern at the University of Georgia Wesley Foundation, received an email over the summer asking each new intern to consider outreach to the campus, she said she felt God “checking her heart.”
“He was like ‘ok, you got this email, what are you going to do about it?’”
In the past, what made Zari hesitant about outreach were her own feelings toward people handing out flyers on campus.
“I tried to run away, put my headphones in, look busy,” she said. “Sometimes I would purposely walk the other way.”
But over the summer she had been working at Camp All America, learning how to talk to any and everybody, and she realized it was OK when people turned the other way.
So instead of answering the email with what she wish she could have said — a quick “I don’t really like any of these” — she responded in obedience to God, hoping to learn how to be a better servant at Wesley.
“Whatever you need me to do, that is what I'll do,” she wrote.
Zari is now the leader of Wesley’s creative outreach. Her first idea is called ‘Sweet Tea with a Dash of JC.’ Zari hopes she might get Chick-fil-A to donate sweet tea, and the creative outreach team would offer it to students in the Tate Student Center plaza, opening up the opportunity for conversation about Jesus and their faith.
“It's sincere and it's honest, and it's creative,” she said.
Just stepping up to the plate, embracing the fear of rejection and letting God work in the little mustard seed of faith that is you reaching out to someone else can have a huge impact in another person's life.
“You don't know if this is where someone is supposed to be,” Zari said. “You don't know, so you have to play your part and if it doesn't work out, cool.”
Zari said she would regret the times when she wasn’t obedient more so than the times she tried but nothing seems to come out of her effort.
“You have to share the gospel. God calls us to be disciples for Him. That's just part of it: being able to share what He's done,” she said. “God is so good. Isn't He worth sharing to people just as much as sharing a great song with a friend? Isn't Jesus worth sharing, too?“
We hope hearing a little bit about Zari’s story of obedience and confidence in God’s ability to show up in outreach situations encourages you to say yes to God when He wants you to share His love or a little about Him to others in your everyday life. Here are a few tips on how to reach out to other students from Zari and from Christina Hensley, Wesley’s associate director of outreach.
Christina said to ask for God to give you the eyes to see and a heart to understand the people around you. “Every person around you has an enormous list of burdens and needs and issues. If we have eyes to see that and if we have a heart that is bent toward wanting to meet needs like Jesus’ would — a heart that’s shifted the focus away from ourselves — then it's very easy to just see opportunities in your day-to-day life.”
Be sincere and honest
Zari said people can tell when you're being fake. Even you can tell when you are being fake. “If you are just being yourself, you never know what part they may connect with,” she said.
A smile goes a long way
Christina said a first step toward reaching out in your everyday life is just to say hi or even smiling at someone you don’t know. “That can be a massive thing for them, and you never know what's going to happen in response to you being obedient to the Lord,” she said.
Don’t be afraid to share your testimony
Zari suggests that prior to going on an outreach ask yourself why you believe in God and what you believe to be true about Him. Ask yourself why you believe God is good and why someone should come to Wesley. “It's going to be a lot harder for you to go out and try to convince other people if you don't even know, so ask yourself that and have those answers already set in your mind.”
Reach out to the individual
Christina said outreach can be easier when you pinpoint a particular person or group of people to whom you want to show Jesus’ love. “Think about other people and then pray and ask the Lord to engage with you and let Him lead you. Ask Him simple questions like ‘what is something this person needs?’ or ‘what do you see when you see this person?’ or ‘what's a way that I can give them some of the joy or some of the life I've been given today?’”
Find your outreach community
Christina said to find a group of people that will support and encourage you to reach out and share your faith with others. That can be a small group or even other students participating in Wesley outreaches.
Wesley Outreach Times:
Mondays: Prayer Walks starting at the Wesley main building from 12 to 12:30 p.m.
Tuesday: Prophetic outreach, praying and speaking encouragement over other students on campus is from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
Wednesday: Hand out flyers for the Wesley Wednesday service at Tate from 11 to 2 p.m. in the Tate Student Center plaza
Thursday: Creative outreach, which can include everything from ‘Sweet Tea with a Dash of JC’ to handing out water bottles to runners on Milledge from 3 to 4 p.m.
Author | Lindsey Conway