God and Golf
February 1, 2004
by Gary Cobb
Many believers struggle with telling others about Christ because they are afraid of what other people will say.
I remember trying to witness to a new neighbor, only to find that he was not interested in God. Every day I was reminded that someone right outside my door needed Jesus Christ. I began to pray for "Steve" on a regular basis, but I struggled with how to share with someone who would not let me.
Then I read a book that presented an alternative style of evangelism: "Lifestyle Evangelism," by Joe Aldrich, which described a relational approach to witnessing—living a life that reflects Jesus Christ, cultivating relationships and planting seeds of the Gospel.
I began the process, going out of my way to be a good neighbor to Steve and looking for areas of common interest. I did not find many. I was a believer; Steve was not. I was an associate pastor; Steve was a vice president of a major corporation. I did not play golf; Steve was a golf fanatic.
I went to a local pawnshop and bought the cheapest set of golf clubs I could find. I read books on golf and went to the driving range to practice. After a few weeks I had blisters on my hands, but I could actually make contact with the golf ball. When I saw Steve in his yard chipping golf balls, I would walk over to watch him and seek his advice about my fledgling game.
One day Steve asked if I would play golf with him at his country club. We had fun together. As I got to know Steve, I sensed that he was an over-achiever who came from a home where his father never expressed love or approval unless Steve accomplished something great. Steve said he had the same problem expressing love and approval to his own wife and children. The Lord opened a door for me to talk about how we can all experience God's love and share that love and acceptance with those close to us. As my friendship with Steve grew, I told him how I came to know Christ.
Steve started attending church, and he asked me for spiritual reading material. Still, he was not a believer. One day as we finished a round of golf, Steve said, "I have been attending church, but I really don't understand what they are talking about. Can you explain it to me?" We sat down on the hood of my car, and I explained how to have a relationship with God by receiving Christ. I asked Steve if he would like to accept Jesus. Steve wasn't ready, but he said, "For the first time I understand how I can know God." Then he said, "I'll make a deal with you: I will help you with golf (and you need a lot of help!) if you will help me with Jesus."
Eventually Steve did pray to accept Christ, and he is now walking with God and is active in his church.
Through my experience with Steve, I learned that even if a person initially rejects Christ, we should be faithful to pray for that person. Building a relationship may lead to fruitful conversations in time. Many people will be reached only through a relationship, which must be cultivated. In the context of a friendship God may open a door for us to share His message.