By Bob Paulson
As churches across North America introduce My Hope to their congregations, more and more Christians are deciding to step up and be “Matthews”—people who will throw a party this fall and invite their friends to come and meet Jesus.
In the process, these believers are discovering both the joy and the burden that come when they begin to pray daily for the salvation of friends and start reaching out with Christ’s love.
“It’s like a wake-up call,” says Emray Goossens of Albuquerque, N.M. Emray and his wife, Carol, were among about 300 potential Matthews who received My Hope training at Albuquerque’s Hoffmantown Church April 13. “Carol and I have been reading the Word to each other, and it kind of came to us that we need to be more engaged. Yes, I do mission trips in foreign lands. But what about in-between times?”
Carol, who works as a receptionist at the church, explains that because she spends most of her time in a Christian environment, she is realizing that she needs to stop and notice the needs of people around her. Recently a woman came to the church for food, and Carol took the opportunity to invite her to a worship service. And when the woman came to worship, Carol talked with her about how God can carry her through difficult times.
One of Emray’s coworkers recently confided that Emray is his only real friend. Emray has begun to spend more time with the man to strengthen that friendship. And he is dealing with the implications of what the man said: “If I truly am his best friend,” Emray says, “then I must get him to see Jesus Christ.”
My Hope challenges Christians to do five things:
The simplicity of that approach is attractive even to people who don’t always feel confident sharing their faith. “I’m one of these people who is very shy and don’t feel comfortable,” said Coryn Moser, who also attended the April 13 training. “So this is something that appeals to me, something that maybe I could see myself doing.”
Greg and Catrina Elder have begun to pray for the people on their “Matthew List.” Some of those are neighbors whom Greg observes from his window as he works in his home office. He sees the parade of cars that indicate numerous one-night stands, and he aches because he wants his neighbors to know how much better life is with Jesus.
He knows that to enter into those lives in a meaningful way will require an investment. Even the architecture of our homes can work against relationships, Greg observes. “Houses today are designed completely different from the way they used to be designed when my parents grew up,” he says. “We had porches in front. Now we have these big decks and patios on the back. We have actually constructed our houses and big walls in the back not to reach out to our neighbors. So we have to make a diligent effort to reach out.”
The Elders recently invited all their neighbors over for dinner. Three showed up. That’s not many, but as Greg says, “That’s three more than before.”
Catrina points out: “The good thing is that they are already in our sphere. It’s not like we are going out to some stranger and saying, ‘OK, you are going to be the person on my list.’ When we first heard about My Hope, we were praying about it, and the people instantaneously on our minds were those we have already made an effort to have a relationship with. And they know we love the Lord, so that’s already part of who we are being.”