Young People Ask
Why Am I Afraid to Share My Faith?
“There have been some great opportunities to talk about my beliefs at school. But I let them pass.”—Kaleb.*
“Our teacher asked the class what we thought about evolution. I knew this was a perfect chance to share my faith. But I completely froze and said nothing. Afterward, I felt really bad.”—Jasmine.
IF YOU are a Christian youth, perhaps you can relate to the experiences of Kaleb and Jasmine. Like them, you may love the Bible-based truths you have learned and want to share them with others. Still, you might dread the thought of speaking up. But you can develop more courage. How? Take the following steps as you prepare for each school year:
1. Define your fears. When you think about sharing your faith, it’s easy to imagine the worst-case scenario! Sometimes, though, you can reduce your fears simply by putting them into words.
Complete the following sentence.
◼ If I talk about my beliefs at school, this is what might happen:
If it’s any comfort, your fears may be a lot like those of other Christian youths. For instance, 14-year-old Christopher admits, “I’m afraid kids will make fun of me and tell everyone I’m weird.” And Kaleb, quoted at the outset, says, “I was worried someone would ask a question and I wouldn’t know the answer.”
2. Accept the challenge. Are your fears completely unfounded? Not necessarily. “Some kids pretended they were interested in my beliefs,” says Ashley. “But later they turned my words against me and teased me in front of others.” Nicole, 17, had this experience: “A boy compared a verse in his Bible with the same verse in mine, and the wording was different. He said that my Bible had been changed. I was stunned! I didn’t know what to say.”*
Situations like these can seem pretty scary! But instead of running away, accept such challenges as a normal part of your life as a Christian. (2 Timothy 3:12) “Jesus said his followers would be persecuted,” says 13-year-old Matthew, “so we can’t expect everyone to like us or our beliefs.”—John 15:20.
3. Think of the benefits. Can any good come out of a seemingly bad experience? Amber, 21, thinks so. “It’s hard to explain your faith to people who don’t respect the Bible,” she says, “but it helps you to understand your own position better.”—Romans 12:2.
Look again at the scenario you described at Step 1. Think of at least two good things that could come out of that situation, and write them below.
Hint: How might making known your faith lead to less peer pressure? How will your doing so affect your self-confidence? Your feelings for Jehovah God? His feelings for you?—Proverbs 23:15.
4. Be prepared. “The heart of the righteous one meditates so as to answer,” says Proverbs 15:28. Besides meditating on what you’ll say, try to anticipate questions others may ask. Research those topics, and plan out answers you feel comfortable giving.—See the chart “Plan Your Response,” on page 25.
5. Get started. Once you’re ready to talk about your beliefs, how should you start? You have options. In a sense, sharing your faith is like swimming: Some people ease their way into the water; others jump right in. Likewise, you could start the conversation on a nonreligious subject and gradually test the waters, so to speak. But if you find yourself worrying too much about what might go wrong, your best option may be to ‘jump right in.’ (Luke 12:11, 12) “Thinking about sharing my faith was always harder than actually doing it,” says 17-year-old Andrew. “Once a conversation was started, it was much easier than I thought it would be!”*
6. Be sensible. Just as you wouldn’t dive into shallow waters, be careful not to jump into pointless arguments. Remember, there’s a time to speak and a time to keep quiet. (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 7) At times, even Jesus refused to answer questions. (Matthew 26:62, 63) And remember this principle: “Sensible people will see trouble coming and avoid it, but an unthinking person will walk right into it and regret it later.”—Proverbs 22:3, Today’s English Version.
So if you sense an argument coming on, don’t “walk right into it.” Instead, give a brief and discreet reply. For example, if a classmate taunts, ‘Why don’t you smoke cigarettes?’ you could simply say, ‘Because I’m not into body pollution!’ Depending on the response, you can decide whether or not to explain your beliefs further.
The above steps can help you to be “always ready to make a defense” of your faith. (1 Peter 3:15) Of course, being ready doesn’t mean that you’ll never feel nervous. But Alana, 18, observes: “When you explain your beliefs despite being scared, it makes you feel as if you’ve accomplished something—you’ve overcome your fear and taken the risk that it might not go well. And if it does go well, you’ll feel even better! You’ll be glad you had the courage to speak up.”
More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
Some names in this article have been changed.
Bible translations use different wording. However, some are more faithful to the original languages in which the Bible was written.
See the box “Conversation Starters,” on page 26.
TO THINK ABOUT
◼ Could these be the thoughts of someone at your school?
‘I know you’re one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. You might think I’m going to ridicule you, but really I respect you. How do you remain so calm amid all the problems in the world? I’m scared. Will there be another war soon? Will my parents divorce? Will I make it through school today without getting shot or stabbed? I’ve got so many questions, but you seem to have life all figured out. Is that because of your religion? I’d like to discuss it, but I’m afraid to bring up the subject. Will you please start the conversation?’
[Box/Pictures on page 26]
WHAT YOUR PEERS SAY
“I’ve had some kids laugh at me for expressing my faith. But usually they leave me alone once they realize that their teasing doesn’t bother me.”—Francesca, Luxembourg.
“If you don’t tell people that you’re a Christian, you can lose touch with who you are and start acting like everyone else. You can’t let yourself be a follower; you have to remain your own person.”—Samantha, United States.
“When I was younger, I didn’t want to be different from other kids. But then I began to appreciate how my faith contributes to a better quality of life. That realization boosted my confidence—it made me feel proud of what I believe.”—Jason, New Zealand.
[Box on page 26]
◼ “What are your plans for the summer?” [After response, mention your spiritual plans, such as attending a convention or expanding your ministry.]
◼ Mention a news item, and then ask: “Did you hear about that? What do you think of it?”
◼ “Do you think that the world’s financial situation [or another problem] is likely to improve? [Allow for response.] Why do you feel that way?”
◼ “Do you belong to a religion?”
◼ “Where do you see yourself five years from now?” [After response, share your spiritual goals.]
[Chart on page 25]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
Plan Your Response
Suggestion: Discuss this chart with your parents and friends. Complete the chart. Then see if you can think of other questions your classmates may ask.
What’s your stand on homosexuality?
I don’t hate homosexuals, but I can’t approve of their conduct.
Isn’t that viewpoint prejudiced?
No, because I’m against all forms of immorality—homosexual or otherwise.
Why don’t you date?
I’ve decided not to get into a relationship until I’m older.
Is it because of your religion?
Yes. We date only with a view to marriage, and I know I’m not ready for that yet!
Why don’t you salute the flag?
I respect the land I live in, but I don’t worship it.
So you wouldn’t fight your for country?
No, and millions of Jehovah’s Witnesses in other lands wouldn’t fight against this country either.
Why won’t you accept blood transfusions?
I accept safe transfusions—the kind that don’t carry the risk of AIDS. But the Bible says to abstain from blood, so that’s where I draw the line.
But what if you were going to die? Wouldn’t God forgive you?
So-and-so is a member of your religion, and he did such-and-such. Why can’t you?
We’re taught God’s requirements, but we’re not brainwashed! We all have to make our own choices.
Isn’t that a double standard?
Why don’t you believe in evolution?
Why should I believe in evolution? Scientists don’t even agree on it, and they’re supposed to be the experts!
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
Published by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
[Picture on page 26]
Sharing your faith is like swimming. You can choose to start slowly—or just take the plunge!