I question if there is a greater heartbreak. For some it causes them to weep at any given moment day or night. Only those who ‘have been there done that’ can fully understand.
There are those who are part of your family on earth that unless something happens spiritually will not be part of your family in heaven. One can say about a departed believer, “So long”. Indeed it will only be “so long” before one sees the person again in the presence of the King. What a day of rejoicing that’s going to be. But to a departed lost loved one, we say, “Good-bye”. Never will we see that person again.
I understand the heartbreak. My dad had a big impact on my life. When I think of men I think of my dad. He taught me hard work, integrity, and introduced me to my favorite sport of hunting. But since I couldn’t be certain of his relationship with the Lord, I woke up with nightmares he just died and went to hell. After 27 years of praying he assured me that his trust was in Christ alone as his only way to heaven. I still wept when he died. But the tears were tears of relief, not remorse.
At the same time, relatives are often some of the hardest ones to speak to about spiritual things. So how do you talk to your own relatives?
Two suggestions will hopefully be of help to you. The worth of them is not only verified by my own experience but by hundreds of believers that we have extended these suggestions to and have seen their relatives come to Christ.
Start by asking God to send someone in addition to you to speak to them. Please note that I said in addition to you not instead of you. It’s no secret to anyone that has spent much time in evangelism that it often takes someone outside of the family to reach them. When the time was right, God sent the right person. God used another pastor to witness to my dad and for that matter my mom as well to the point where they assured me, “I’ve settled it!”
I’ve often used the illustration of a mother I was privileged to lead to Christ in Indiana. Upon trusting Christ, the first thing she said was, “I don’t know why I couldn’t have listened to my own daughter. She’s been telling me this for years.” I then explained the reason she listened to me was I was not her son. She agreed and the two of them became closer than they had ever been.
“No one around my relatives is a believer,” you might say. God is still on the throne. He could bring someone across their path today who shares the same message you’ve been sharing for years – the Gospel of grace.
Here’s the second suggestion. Write a letter. Unlike a conversation that goes in one ear and out the other, they will read it and reread it, even though they may never tell you they got it. A man called the EvanTell office and said, “My niece just trusted Christ as a result of a letter I wrote five years ago. She never admitted she got it. She carried that letter with her for over five years and three moves. She would pick it up and read it and lay it aside, pick it up and read it and lay it aside. After five years she called me and told me she trusted Christ.”
I’m not thinking about any old letter. This has to be a special one. As I have often told people it’s a ten pager not a one pager. It’s one that takes an evening not an hour to write. The letter must contain four things:
- Confess – Has something happened that still has not been resolved? Did something occur that they still hold against you? Get it out on the table and get rid of it. You don’t want it hindering what you have to say.
- Compliment – Thank them for what they have meant to you. Did they always remember your birthday? Do you have pleasant memories of that one unbelievable vacation? Did they help you through college? Was there a time you saw a caring side of them you had never seen before? The worst relative has something to compliment.
- Cross – Explain the way of salvation as though you were there face to face. Don’t enclose an evangelistic tract. They are likely to toss the tract aside and keep reading your letter. Instead, put the message of the tract in the letter. Be sure to make the Gospel clear. Explain to them that 1) We come to God as sinners, 2) Jesus Christ died for us and rose again, and 3) We must trust in Christ alone to save us. Use illustrations like one person dying for another to explain substitution or trusting a pilot to explain faith. Most important, make sure you are clear that eternal life is a free gift, not something they can work for or earn. Remember this is a ten page, not a one page letter. Many have used EvanTell’s, “May I Ask You A Question” booklet. They have put the words of this booklet in their own words as they write the letter. In so doing, they make the message of the Gospel clear.
- Concern – Explain to them “What does all that mean if we are not together in heaven? The one person I want with me in heaven is you.”
As you mail the letter, don’t just send it with a stamp. Send it with a prayer that God will use your words to penetrate them with His words.
God has never faced a hopeless situation. If God could bring a Paul the apostle to Christ on the road to Damascus whose favorite past time was witnessing the massacre of Christians, he can certainly reach your lost loved ones. Do your part, and then look forward with anticipation and excitement to God doing His.
About the Contributors
Dr. R. Larry Moyer is the founder and CEO of EvanTell, an evangelistic ministry headquartered in Dallas, Texas. With more than forty-five years of experience, he continues a full-time traveling ministry, speaking at evangelistic outreaches and churches of all sizes to train and equip believers in evangelism. To read more about Dr. Moyer, visit evantell.org.