I knew my teen was struggling. She was concerned for a school friend and felt responsible for helping him see his need for Christ.

"Mom, I’m trying to witness to Dan, but anytime I talk to him about Jesus, he says I’m wasting my breath," Allie said.

"You can’t force someone to make a faith decision," I reminded her.

Dan was born with a condition that caused his legs to be underdeveloped. When he was a baby, Dan’s parents had his legs amputated because they were useless and would never grow. He and his family were atheists.

"I know you’re concerned, Allie, but your part in God’s plan may only be to plant a seed."

Showing love

I was confident I had helped my daughter, but a few days later, she came home from school in tears.

"I enjoy being around Dan, except on days like today when he makes fun of me for my faith," she said. "He told me I was pretty dumb for a smart person, for believing that Jesus lived on earth and died for everyone. He says if there is a heaven, being a good person is enough to get you there."

I tried to comfort her. "It’s hard when someone is persecuting you for your faith, but try not to fight back. You’re going to have to focus on showing him God’s love rather than telling him about it."

I explained how she should be his friend and engage him in conversations on subjects other than God. As they talked, he might reveal more about his fears and frustrations. "Then you’ll have better insight on how to approach him on a spiritual level."

Cultivating relationships

Several weeks later, my daughter went on a youth discipleship retreat. When she returned, she was excited.

"Mom, we talked about discernment. Our leader mentioned what you said about cultivating relationships." He told the group that with some people, you have to earn the right to approach them on subjects that are deeper than surface conversation.

Following the retreat, I could tell that Allie was less stressed about her relationship with Dan. One day, she came home with a huge smile on her face.

"Today was great! Dan and I stayed after school to work on a project. Out of nowhere, he asked me a question about God. At first, I was scared to answer because I didn’t want to mess up, but then I realized it was the right time to share my personal testimony. He listened! He didn’t interrupt, and I could tell he was thinking about what I said."

I was so happy for her. God used Allie to plant a seed in Dan’s life.

Lessons on witnessing

Here is what Allie learned about witnessing through relationship:

  • Cultivate friendships first.
  • Be prepared – know Scripture.
  • Model Christ-like qualities in speech, actions and attitudes.
  • Discern how and when to talk about God.
  • Realize no one can refute your personal testimony.
  • Keep loving and praying for those who don’t agree with your beliefs.
  • Remember you can be God’s instrument, but the Holy Spirit draws others to Christ.

From Focus on Your Child’s Teen Phases, October 2007. Published by Focus on the Family. © 2007 Focus on the Family. All rights reserved. International copyright secured. Used by permission.

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