About the Guest
The Great Commission commands us as Christians to make disciples. Do you know how to share your faith with your neighbor or co-worker? Holly Melton gives practical steps for sharing your faith with others.
Christians are commanded to make disciples. Do you know how to share your faith with your neighbor or co-worker? Holly Melton gives practial steps for sharing your faith with others.
Michelle: Holly Melton was a young missionary, who was anxious to share her faith with someone who was lost. But as that old saying says, “Be careful what you pray for; you just might get it.” Here’s Holly.
Holly: When I was in college, I was on my first summer mission trip in New Jersey. We were out there, just worshiping on the boardwalk one evening; and a woman started to approach me. I don’t know why she chose me out of all the people that were out there, but she walked right up to me. Kind of in an eerie kind of way, she said, “I’m a vampire; are you afraid of me?”
Michelle: We’re going to learn about sharing our faith with others, even when they’re a vampire, on this edition of FamilyLife This Week.
Welcome to FamilyLife This Week. I’m Michelle Hill. You know, it was Jesus who said these words to His disciples as He was heading off to heaven—He said, “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” That’s basically our job description, folks!
Do you see that as your job description? I mean, usually what I hear from Christians is, “Ohhh! Evangelism?” Well, it’s not my gift either; but if you’re like me, it can be scary. I mean, it’s taking that bold step; it’s being courageous in a conversation. It is a little scary, because I’m scared of rejection; I’m scared they won’t like me; I’m scared they won’t accept the King of kings that I have come to love so dearly; I’m scared they’ll reject my entire worldview.
A couple of years ago, I was in the audience when Holly Melton was asked to stand up and speak about some of the experiences she had in sharing her faith. It made me go, “Whoa! This is exciting! I can do what she’s been doing.” Of course, when she stopped by the FamilyLife Today®studios, I said, “Holly, I need to talk to you about sharing faith!” I need to talk to you about sharing faith, because I need to be encouraged. I’m sure, like me, you need to be encouraged too. Here’s my conversation with Holly Melton.
Michelle: So, Holly, you made a career out of telling people about Jesus. You are a person who always looks for those openings to start a conversation about Jesus. Why is that?
Holly: Well, one, I care about the souls of people. There really is an eternity, and so I want them to know about that. But I think, too, it’s because, when I was younger, I saw lives transformed by the gospel in such dramatic ways. I thought, “How else can I spend my life besides sharing Jesus with others?”
Michelle: So talk about some of those dramatic ways that you saw.
Holly: Yes, when I was in college, I was on my first summer mission trip in New Jersey. We were out there, just worshiping on the boardwalk one evening; and a woman started to approach me. I don’t know why she chose me out of all the people that were out there, but she walked right up to me. Kind of in an eerie kind of way, she said, “I’m a vampire; are you afraid of me?”
I just thought, “Okay, I have never met somebody that actually thinks that they’re a vampire.” [Laughter] And this was so long ago! This was before Vampire Diaries; this was before the Twilight series—like, “Who thinks they’re a vampire?” But I said, “Sure, I’ll talk with a vampire.”
We go over to sit down to talk, and she says nothing; it’s completely awkward. I’m thinking, “You initiated with me!” And this was when I started to pray and said: “God, show me. This woman approached me for some reason. Help me to engage in this conversation.”
So the first idea that I felt like the Lord put on my heart was to ask her about herself. Her name was Christy. I asked her, “Christy, what makes you a vampire?” I wanted to learn and understand. She proceeded to tell me—she showed me her arms that were all scarred up. She said, “I’ve tried to kill myself three times, and I haven’t been able to die.” She said, “I actually sacrifice animals, and I drink their blood; because I believe that is what’s going to purify me from sin.”
I just thought, “Okay, this is the wildest conversation ever! God, I have not been trained or equipped to be able to have a spiritual conversation with someone who has such dramatic views.” But, boy, was I wrong to think that. Again, I asked the Holy Spirit—I asked God, “Show me! How do I relate You to a vampire?”
The next question that came to my mind was, “What brings you purpose or significance in life?” And this is a question we can all ask people around us: our neighbors, our coworkers, anyone. I even met a woman on an airplane yesterday; and I asked her, “What do you think your purpose is for the next half of your life?” She was about the same age as me. It’s a way we can engage with someone and have them think about their life.
Well, Christy—she answered back and said, “I’ve brought 30 women into being vampires with me. None of them have family or friends, and now they have community.” It was the one thin thread I could find that we had in common—was we cared about women being in community.
Holly: We cared about caring for women. But, again, even with that common ground, I still didn’t know how that would relate to Jesus and the gospel. Again, I’m asking in my mind, kind of a breath prayer, “Show me; what do I say or ask next?”
It was at that moment that I felt like God was encouraging me to do something that was kind of opposite of my training at that time. I was raised in a generation, where it’s apologetics: you defend your faith; you defend what is true in the Bible. But I felt like the idea that was put in my mind was, “Affirm her partial truths.” If there’s one thing we know about anybody, who’s in any religion, there’s something true about it that’s been skewed. Satan just takes partial truth and he skews it, so we want to affirm the partial truth to gain some common ground and trust.
That’s exactly what I did with Christy. I said to her, “Christy, you know, in a sense, you are right. We are all immortal; there is life after death. And you’re right—that blood is necessary and sacrifice is essential; and you’re right—that we were all made for community. But I don’t think you know the whole story. Do I have your permission to share with you the whole story?” She said, “Yes.”
I think that was important too. Instead of me just going into sharing about Jesus, I made sure she wanted to hear it. I wanted to respect her and where she was. At the end of that time, I thought, “Oh, for sure! She’s going to say, ‘Yes, I want Jesus!’” because I had never had a conversation like that. Instead, she said, “No, I’m not ready to have Jesus in my life; but would you take me home? Would you drive me home? The buses have stopped working.”
It was now like two in the morning. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to take a vampire home at two in the morning! [Laughter]
Holly: I asked my friends if they would come with me and drive. I had a guy driving; I’m in the front, and she’s in the back. As we were driving, literally, on a deserted highway, at two in the morning, she started knocking on the window; I mean, it’s this constant eerie knock.
I again asked a question; I said, “Christy, why are you knocking on the window?” She said, “Something is knocking at my heart, but I don’t know what it is.” Right away, Revelation 3:20 comes to my mind, that says, “Behold! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door of their life, I will come in. I will dine with him”/“I will fellowship with him.” I said, “Christy, I believe that’s Jesus! He really is just being a gentleman, but knocking at the door of your heart to come in. It’s your decision though, if you want Him in.”
Then she says, “I am hungry and thirsty for something, and I don’t know what it is.” I said, “Christy, I really believe that that’s Jesus.” I said, “You know, there’s a song we used to sing. The verse goes: ‘I want to thirst no more. I want to hunger no more. I want to know that Jesus is my Lord.’” I said, “I believe that’s Jesus!” She goes, “Will you sing it for me?” [Laughter] I am like, “Who can sing at, now, about 2:30 in the morning?!” I’m an alto; so again, another awkward moment! “Push through your vanity.”
I turn around; I sing to her this praise song. Immediately, she gets it. She says, “Pull over on side of the road right now. In case I die before we get home, I want Jesus in my life.” Well, I honestly was skeptical; I thought, “I still don’t know, ‘Is she really with it?’” I said, “Christy, if this is real, I want to meet with you tomorrow at noon,”—because I know vampires don’t like to be out in broad daylight.
Holly: I said, “We will talk about what it means to be a follower of Jesus.”
Honestly, I didn’t think she would show up; but the next day, I see her walking toward me on the sidewalk. She was still wearing kind of her Gothic-looking outfit, but her eyes were sparkling! She had a skip to her step. As she was walking toward me, she started yelling my name. This is what she said—she said, “Holly! Holly! I want to learn how to share my faith like you shared with me.”
I thought, “Wow! Christians don’t even want to learn how to share their faith normally!”—you know?
Holly: And here’s someone that’s a ten-hour believer, wanting to learn how to share her faith?! I said, “Alright, Christy. Let’s go back on the boardwalk, where I met you last night; and let’s go talk to someone, and let’s see how God does this.” Instead of sitting down at a coffee shop, doing some little training or reading a book, I was like, “Let’s go do it!”
We go out, not knowing what was going to happen, and we meet a 15-year-old boy named Mark. He’s a blonde surfer dude. Mark’s listening to us, and he asks a great question. He says, “How do you know you’re different when you become a Christian?” Now, I was saved as a young child; my testimony is not so extravagant. I didn’t know, theologically, how to answer his question at that moment. Christy interrupts me, and she says, “Well, Mark, yesterday I was a vampire; and today I’m a born-again Christian. Boy, do I feel the difference!”
Holly: She goes, “Mark, did you know that we are eternal?—that blood is necessary; sacrifice is essential; and we are made for community. Can I tell you why?” He said, “Sure.” And she proceeded to share the same gory presentation of the gospel I shared with her the night before. I thought, “Well, God contextualized that for a vampire, not for a surfer!” But what do you know?—she leads Mark to the Lord right there in broad daylight.
What’s amazing is she’s ten hours [old] in her faith! I think so many of us have excuses: “Oh, I don’t know the Bible well enough.” “Oh, I haven’t been a Christian long enough.” “Oh, I haven’t been walking with Jesus…” Well, it didn’t matter to her!
Holly: She went out and understood that souls matter/that eternity matters, and she shared with him.
Michelle: What an incredible story of God’s redemption plan for us! Did you get goosebumps going up your spine like I did? Just an incredible story of what God does.
Hey, we need to take a break; but when we come back, Holly and I are going to continue talking about these amazing stories. She’s going to share how she really learned how to effectively share Christ with others, just through her everyday life. Stay tuned; we’ll be back in two minutes.
[Radio Station Spot Break]
Michelle: Welcome back to FamilyLife This Week. I'm Michelle Hill. I am talking with Holly Melton today. We are in the middle of a story, of where she shared Christ with a woman who claimed to be a vampire. Of course, we heard that that woman gave her life to Jesus; so exciting!
But you know, as Christians, once someone gives their life to Christ, we tend to gravitate toward them and what they are feeling at that moment. I wanted to find out from Holly what it felt like to be used, in that moment, of God [working] in that young lady’s life. Here’s more of my conversation with Holly.
Michelle: What does that do to you, as the child of God, who obeyed Him and you pressed through awkward moments? You pressed through; I’m sure other people would have been like, “This is too weird; I’m walking away.” You pressed through that. So what does that do to you, to say, “God, I’m a vessel of Yours”?
Holly: Yes! I mean, it’s humbling. It’s an honor; it is beautiful. It’s like the gospel becomes so much more real to you. It’s like you believe it! But then, honestly, even when you’re sharing it, you’re like: “Does this even make sense?” “Does this work?” “Is this going to change her?” You like kind of have doubts as you’re sharing, and then you see this transformation; and you’re like, “Oh, the power of the gospel!!”
And then you’re like, “I can take another step of faith,” and “I can take another step.” And then you start seeing the ball rolling, and you start hearing God’s voice better. You don’t question; there’s less fear, and there’s more faith. And then everyone around you just starts to experience the gospel. That’s what happens when you take one little step of faith at a time.
If you had told me that morning, “You’re going to meet a vampire and have to take her home at two in the morning,” I would have laughed at you. I would have said, “No way”; you know? But it’s one little step of faith at a time: saying, “Yes,” to talk to someone who’s different from you; asking them questions; being a learner; being willing to ask the Holy Spirit, “How do I do this? Show me”; and believing He will give us the words to say.
Michelle: How did that change your approach to other people?—like that first time, how did that change your approach to evangelism?
Holly: Yes. I no longer feel like I have to come and report to people what the gospel says. My job is not to get them to a point of decision immediately. It is first to become a safe person. I think our first step is: “I am a person; you are a person. I want to get to know you. I want you to feel valued; I want you to feel safe; I want you to feel cared for.” You can even do that with a stranger very quickly; it does not have to be over months and years. You can do that in one conversation.
Then, it’s exploring: “What do they believe?” “What are their spiritual aspects of life?” “What are they curious about?” You’re respecting that they are on their own spiritual journey. Everyone’s on a journey!
Holly: We’ve got to figure out where that is. And then, I think, it’s figuring out and increasing their curiosity about Christ.
Michelle: You know, I’m just thinking of the mom, who’s listening, who’s thinking through her playdates—or maybe it’s the dad, who’s thinking through his co-workers—and sitting there, going, “I don’t know that I could have that courage to open up a conversation. I’m concerned for the relationship that I have with this non-Christian in my life. I want to keep that relationship, so I don’t want to rock the boat.”
Michelle: What kind of encouragement would you give them?
Holly: Yes; what I do is—I call “seeds” that I bring out to see how the person responds, first of all. I say something to plant a seed to see if they even respond to the fact that I’m saying anything about/ I’m engaging as a believer—something like, “I attend church.” Some of them will be like, “Oh, that’s cool!” They might reply back that they attend a church. If they don’t, that starts out where I see they might not be someone who is a follower of Jesus.
And then it’s more just kind of getting to know the person and asking them questions. I have had friends, and I’ve done playdates, and say, “Hey, I’ve really gotten to know you over the last few months. I’ve gotten to learn your job and some of your family story, but one thing I haven’t learned is your spiritual journey. For me, that’s been something significant in my life.
Holly: “Maybe a spiritual journey, to you, isn’t significant; but you’re really becoming my friend, and I would just love to hear: ‘Do you have any spiritual journey?” “Were you from any religious background?’”
I make it low-key. My kids are playing around me; and I just kind of acknowledge: “Hey, we’re becoming friends. This is kind of important in my life. I would love to hear if you have kind of any spiritual background.”
That might be the only thing I ask in that whole time with them; I don’t try to get into the gospel.
Holly: Because it’s a relationship—it’s not like Christy, who I met right away—so I think it’s building trust/building rapport, and not being afraid to say: “Yes, I go to church,”—or for me—“I work for a Christian organization.” I just kind of put those seeds out there just to see how people respond first.
Holly: And then over time, I start to ask them their own spiritual journey, as a beginning.
Michelle: How does it become second nature for you?
Holly: Well, it started with the discipline of praying every morning, surrendering my day to the Lord. I think to have this kind of life, you live a surrendered life. Every morning—and I’m a structured planned-out type of person—but every day, I go through my day and I say, “Holy Spirit, I give it to You. Use me; show me where God is at work, so I can see it. Help me to see every person as someone that needs encouragement or ‘Do I need to talk to them?’” I’m asking Him to open my eyes to the spiritual needs of others around me, and I’m surrendering the agenda of my day; it’s not just, “Here are the tasks I have to get through.”
Honestly, I tell people: “If you take any of those spiritual gifts tests, I don’t have the gift of evangelism. It never comes up!” [Laughter]
Michelle: That’s funny!
Holly: It’s ironic, so it kind of helps. Some people say, “Oh, you just probably have that gift!” I say, “No, I live a surrendered life; and I ask God to show me the needs of others. I’m intentional in that, and then He shows me how to do it.”
Holly: It’s not one of my gifts.
Michelle: It’s being mindful—
Michelle: —to pray at the beginning of the day and be mindful to look throughout your day.
I had a conversation with Ron Hutchcraft, who is an evangelist, and has a radio program, A Word with You. He was talking about the “three open prayer”; that was, “Prepare my heart for today; prepare someone else’s heart for today; and give me the words to share.”
Michelle: And that’s exactly what you’re talking about when you pray in the morning, “God, help me; show me; equip me.” That’s just beautiful how God does work in our lives that way, and He brings people.
Holly: I think the other thing is—we have to say, “I am not going to be afraid to step into a situation, because my audience is one; my audience is Jesus. I do not need to be afraid.” If the Holy Spirit is putting it on your heart to ask a question, do it!
You know, one situation I had with a neighbor—she was not doing well; she was pregnant, and she was on bedrest—and I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to pray for her. I went, and I visited her, and we talked. I didn’t [pray]; I chose not to. She was married to a Muslim man. She was not Christian, but he was Muslim.
I went back upstairs, because she lived below me. My roommate, at the time, said, “Holly, you need to go back. The Holy Spirit clearly told you to pray for her, and you didn’t.” I went back the next day. What do you know? That day, her husband’s home. Now, I’m like, “Really? Now, I’m going to try to pray over her while her Muslim husband is home?” And I did!
Well, in my book, Follow My Lead, I write a story about how I try to engage spiritually with this couple that lives below me. Before I could publish it, I had to have my non-believing neighbor read the chapter of my book to proof it; right?
Holly: Otherwise, you could get sued. She read that I was afraid to pray for her, and she rebuked me—she said, “Why would you be afraid to pray for me?” She goes, “If you feel like you’re supposed to pray for me, would you please pray for me?” A non-believer is telling me this!—you know?
Our job is not to convert somebody; those neighbors never came to Christ. But you know what they did say? That Muslim husband sat me down, and he said, “Would you be the godmother of my son?—because I know no one else who could teach him about God.”
Holly: A Muslim man said he wants me to be the godmother of his son, because He trusts I trust God as a Christian. And he’s a Muslim, so I gained respect.
My job is not to convert them, right? But I have to push through my fear. When I disobey, I need to go back; you know? So that was a very humbling experience.
Michelle: Yes, that would be a humbling experience.
I know, in your book, you were also talking about a young lady, with whom you used one of King David’s poems with, as you said. Can you tell us about that story?
Holly: Yes, I have used King David’s poem—Psalm 139—multiple times. It is a great poem to use with people who are from different religions. I have used it with people who are Jewish, with people who are Muslim, with people who have no faith; because it’s a beautiful story of how God knows us, and loves us, and cares for us.
One example of how I used it was with a young woman, who had been just brutally sexually abused by her father and her father’s friends. There was a lot of shame, and she just felt like her body was not worth anything. She even had written her own poem about just what it felt like to be a woman, being used by men.
When I met her, she had a terrible eating disorder; she was very bulimic and just real body image issues. I was able to encourage her to go into a Christian rehab center, even though she was Muslim. As she went there, she had the poem on her wall; because she said that the most comforting thing is to know that there is a God who made her and loves her.
One thing about Islam is—they have 99 views of who God is—and the one that they don’t have is: “God is love.” God is not love in Islam. For her to believe that there is a Creator God who loves her seemed so profound. Well, it ended up that she got healthier; she got out of that rehabcenter but had not yet made a profession of faith.
It was decades later—maybe 15 years later after I met her—she initiated with me on Facebook®. I had lost contact with her, so I had not heard anything. I was going to reply to her the very next day; but the very next day, I got an email saying that she had passed away. The same day she had tried to initiate with me, she had passed away. It was her boyfriend who announced that she had passed away.
Unfortunately, she had been given a wrong medication; so it was a misdiagnosis that led to her passing. He was not a believer; and as I started to talk with him, he said, “She became a Christian.”
Holly: I don’t know the story; I don’t know where.
Michelle: Right, right.
Holly: I know I was a beginning of it, but I wasn’t the end of it. He said, “Her father will not bury her or give her a funeral, because she became a Christian. I’m trying to raise money for her funeral.” I was able—I mean, never met this man—I talked to him on the phone. He is sobbing about the loss of his girlfriend; and he says, “You knew her. Tell me what you know about her.”
But it was 15 years ago. I shared the same Psalm with him on the phone. I shared about how Jesus loves him, and how Jesus loved her. He said, “I really want to consider more about this; but right now, I’m just grieving. I can’t.”
Again, 15 years later, I got to use this Psalm with the boyfriend and found out she did become a believer. We won’t know, sometimes, until heaven; you know? And so, a lot of times, what I try to encourage people with is: “We are to be faithful and to take the steps of faith. He is faithful to have them have faith in Him.”
Michelle: Such great encouragement from Holly Melton today. I hope you were as encouraged as I was. Holly is an evangelist, and she serves on staff with Cru®. She has written the book, Follow My Lead, which has most of the stories that she talked about today. We’ll have more information on that book at our website, FamilyLifeThisWeek.com; that’s FamilyLifeThisWeek.com.
Hey, we have hit August; and it’s time for transitioning for parents. Now, I know, because of all that’s going on, the transitions look a little different. Going off to college just doesn’t look the same that it did last year. Going back to school, whether it be elementary or grade school or high school—your kids—it’s looking different.
But there’s still a transition, because your kids are aging. They’re getting a little more independent than they were last year. We’re going to talk about how parents work through those transitions as you get ready for September and going back to school. We’re going to talk about that next week on FamilyLife This Week.
Hey, thanks for listening! I want to thank the president of FamilyLife®, David Robbins, along with our station partners around the country. A big “Thank you!” to our engineer today, Keith Lynch. Thanks to our producers, Marques Holt and Bruce Goff. Justin Adams is our mastering engineer, and Megan Martin is our production coordinator.
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