Young People Ask . . .
How Can I Preach to My Schoolmates?
“I was out preaching when suddenly I ran into someone I knew. I was paralyzed! The person I was working with had to jump in and speak for me.”—Alberto.
“I knew that one of my classmates lived on this road, so I had my brother talk at all the doors. After a while he got kind of stressed out and asked me to do the next door. I knocked, and—oh, no—it was he! I was so scared!”—James.
YOUNG people often feel it is not “cool” to discuss religion. Among true Christians, however, young ones appreciate their God-given privilege of sharing their faith with others. Thousands of young Witnesses of Jehovah thus share in the door-to-door preaching work. But some do so with the dread that they might encounter someone they know from school. “I still get nervous meeting people I went to school with,” says Jennifer, even though she graduated from high school (secondary school) some years ago.
If you are a young Christian, you may feel the same way sometimes. Of course, all of us fear rejection, so it’s perfectly normal to feel a little anxiety when it comes to talking about religion with a schoolmate.* But there is no reason to let fear paralyze you. Do you remember the man whom the Bible calls “Joseph from Arimathea”? He believed the things he learned from Jesus. Yet, the Bible describes Joseph as “a disciple of Jesus but a secret one out of his fear of the Jews.” (John 19:38) Now how would you feel about a friend who wanted to keep your friendship secret? (Luke 12:8, 9) It’s no surprise, then, that God expects all Christians to make “public declaration” of their faith. (Romans 10:10) That would include talking to young ones in your school.
Joseph of Arimathea overcame his fears, at least to the extent of seeking permission to bury Jesus’ body. How can you overcome your fears?
Developing Eagerness to Preach
The apostle Paul certainly wasn’t shy about sharing his faith with others. At Romans 1:15, he describes himself as eager to declare the Bible’s message. What caused such eagerness? He says, as recorded in verse 16: “I am not ashamed of the good news; it is, in fact, God’s power for salvation to everyone having faith.” What about you? Have you really proved the truth to yourself? (Romans 12:2) Are you personally convinced that the Bible’s message is “God’s power for salvation”?
Simply attending Christian meetings with your parents is not enough. “It’s easy just to go to meetings,” says a youth named Deborah, “because your parents tell you to do so. But when people asked me questions about the Bible, I didn’t know how to explain myself.” A youth named Mi Young likewise admits: “We have to prove to ourselves that this is the truth.”
What can motivate you to share your knowledge of the Bible with others? Studying it on your own. A youth named Sean says: “When you start to do your own personal study of the Bible, you begin to make the truth your own. You’re studying for yourself.” True, not everyone is studious by nature. “I don’t like to read,” admits Shevon. “So at first it was hard for me to read The Watchtower and Awake! or to read the Bible daily. But as time went on, I started to do so.”
What results from such diligent study? The apostle Paul says: “Faith follows the thing heard.” (Romans 10:17) As your faith and conviction grow, your attitude is sure to change. A Brazilian youth named Elisângela concluded: “Being a Christian is an honor, not something to be ashamed of.” Indeed, as your faith grows, you find yourself compelled to talk to others—including your classmates. Paul said: “We . . . exercise faith and therefore we speak.” (2 Corinthians 4:13) Besides, how could you be “clean from the blood” of others if you withheld life-giving knowledge from the young ones you see every day?—Acts 20:26, 27.
Some young Christians, though, feel ill-equipped to talk to others about the Bible. “If you don’t know what to say,” says a youth named Joshua, “trying to preach is not very much fun.” Again, getting a deeper understanding of the Bible will help you to handle it competently. (2 Timothy 2:15) In congregations of Jehovah’s Witnesses, youths can approach the congregation elders and request personal assistance in developing teaching skills. Says a German youth named Matthias: “When I started really speaking with people—not just offering Bible literature—I started to enjoy preaching.”
Finally, you can pray for God to help you speak with boldness. (Acts 4:29) The apostle Paul personally experienced God’s help in this regard. At 1 Thessalonians 2:2, he says: “We mustered up boldness by means of our God to speak to you the good news of God with a great deal of struggling.” According to one reference work, this statement may be rendered, “God took fear out of our hearts.” So why not pray and ask God to take fear out of your heart?
In harmony with that prayer, you can take a very bold step. Advises a British youth named Chic: “Tell your schoolmates that you’re a Christian.” You do not want to be a ‘secret disciple.’ A youth named Rebecca admits that she was once terrified of running into someone she knew in the preaching work. But she says she discovered that “if you tell them you’re a Christian and that you go from door to door, they’ll sometimes ask, ‘Well, will you ever come to my door?’”
But why wait for some chance encounter? Look for opportunities to share your faith in school. Remember the questions asked by the apostle Paul: “How . . . will they put faith in him of whom they have not heard? How, in turn, will they hear without someone to preach?” (Romans 10:14) You are in the very best position to help your classmates to hear. A youth named Iraida observes: “School is a preaching territory that only we can reach.” Many youths thus take advantage of their situation by preaching informally.
Sometimes, though, there are class assignments that provide you an opportunity to share Bible truths. A British girl named Jaimie relates: “We were discussing evolution in science class, and I stated my beliefs. One of the boys ridiculed me and said that Jehovah’s Witnesses are inferior and don’t deserve to be in the school system. Right away, though, the other kids in class began to stick up for me.” Evidently, her reputation as an exemplary Christian paid off. Jaimie adds: “As a result, I ended up placing a copy of the book Is There a Creator Who Cares About You? with a classmate.”*
A 14-year-old girl in Romania named Roxana relates a similar experience: “My teacher announced that there would be a class discussion about alcohol, tobacco, and drugs. So I brought in the March 22, 2000, issue of Awake! on the subject ‘How You Can Quit Smoking.’ A classmate saw the magazine, took it, and refused to return it to me. After reading it, she said that she was determined to quit smoking.”
You may not always meet with such a favorable response. But Ecclesiastes 11:6 urges us: “In the morning sow your seed and until the evening do not let your hand rest; for you are not knowing where this will have success.” If nothing else, sharing your beliefs at school will lay the groundwork for a more pleasant discussion should you ever encounter a schoolmate in the house-to-house ministry. Says a British youth named Jessica: “Witnessing to those you know from school is actually easier because you already have a relationship with them.” You may be surprised at how curious some of your schoolmates may be about your beliefs.
True, not all will receive you in a kindly way. But Jesus gave this practical advice: “Wherever anyone does not take you in or listen to your words, on going out of that house . . . shake the dust off your feet.” (Matthew 10:14) In other words, you don’t have to take the rejection personally. Simply leave peacefully and look for someone more willing to listen. Sooner or later you’ll find honesthearted ones who are hungering for the truth and willing to listen. Would it not be rewarding if one of them was a fellow student? If so, you’ll be glad you overcame your fear of sharing your faith with classmates.
See the article “Young People Ask . . . What if I Meet Someone From School?,” appearing in our issue of February 22, 2002.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
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“When you start to do your own personal study of the Bible, you begin to make the truth your own.”—Sean.
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Do not be afraid to identify yourself as a Christian
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Class assignments often provide opportunities for sharing Bible truths