It all started with an invitation. Lainie Watson, senior international business major, was introduced to missions by a friend her freshman year. And that proceeded into the present in her now senior year. Her relationship with missions has been defined, redefined, wrestled with, questioned, tried. But the outcome is one that is representative of the power of the gospel, because it tells of the power of God.
Lainie says of her local missions team, who does street evangelism in downtown Fullerton or Cal State Fullerton, that it has been “sweet to see the team build relationships” with one another and with the strangers whose names are known by God. Lainie says that she was “amazed at how open and willing people [were] to [share] their story.” It inspired her to pursue “local missions in a workplace setting because everyone wants to share their story.” It seemed clear that Lainie understood the kaleidoscopic beauty of local missions and evangelism - that it is about stories, and what that means is that it is about people.
One encounter with a woman taught her how to approach evangelism in a way that is faithfully committed and not poorly projected. While we can easily fall into the “mindset of forcing the gospel,” Lainie says that “it’s about learning as much as you can about a person. You don’t have to change the gospel, you just tailor it to the person.” This concept of personalization not only tells the other person that they care, they they are valued, that they, insert first name here, were created to receive God’s love, but it also changes our first step when it comes to evangelism. No longer are we going to view these strangers as nameless projects, but as beloved children.
When asked about her own experience with evangelism, Lainie said that she often questions the motive behind it because “starting conversations [are] so terrifying.” But, as strangers slowly become divine encounters, curiosities are courageously being inquired both ways, and conversations unravel the silenced stories, Lainie’s question of “why am I doing this?” transitions to “why isn’t everyone doing this?”
Missions is an active word. But, like Lainie says, “missions is not [just] the thing you do, it’s about the way you live.”