How to Witness on Trains, Planes and Automobiles

By Danny Lehman (honolulufrontier{at}gmail.com)

Jesus made it clear that his disciples were to travel, whether across the sea ("...into all the world...), or across the street "(like Philip), we are to put one beautiful foot in front of the other and GO and proclaim the good news (Rom. 10: 15).

In Bible times chariots were to people like the Ethiopian man what planes, trains and automobiles are to us today, simply modes of transport. Some of my favorite times of witnessing are when I am not intentionally "on outreach" but enjoying those spontaneous divine appointments that God arranges as I go about my daily routine-including travel-when I am "on the go". Let's learn a bit from the example of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:8) and his encounter with his new African friend.
1) Get friendly.  First we see that Philip obeyed the Spirit's prompting to "go near" to the lone traveler. One of the first things I do before I board a plane is ask God to help me to "go near", get out of my introspection,  and be intentionally friendly  to the person sitting next to me. Then I make myself available to the Lord, keeping in mind Jesus' model of being a friend to sinners (Mt. 11:19). Not long ago I was on a plane sitting next to a little boy. His mother was seated a few rows up on the aisle seat. Before the plane took off I volunteered to switch seats with the mom simply so she could sit next to her son. In my new seat I found myself sitting next to a university student whose girlfriend had just become a Christian and had severed their relationship. When he found out that I had recently spoken at the church at which she was converted he was wide open and ready to hear the good news. God had set up a divine appointment and before we landed he surrendered his life to Jesus.
2) Get interested. Philip found a common interest with his new partner on the chariot, even though he was from another culture. He noticed him reading a book and asked him a simple question. On a flight  just last week my wife Linda and I sat next to a young lady who was reading a book on motivational speaking. I enthusiastically informed her that I was a motivational speaker and proceeded to give her public speaking tips.  All of my illustrations, of course came from the Bible and evangelistic messages! I gave her a gospel tract, sent her 2 books in the mail and just yesterday she sent me an e-mail promising to read them. We plan on following up on her.
3) Get verbal.  We also notice that Philip "opened his mouth" (vs.35). It is crucial that we get verbal in our witness for Christ. People do not get saved by osmosis or by basking in the bright light of our glowing glory! Faith comes by hearing God's Word and the "foolishness of preaching" (Rom 10:17, 1 Cor. 1:21). This brings up the key element of witnessing as we travel. Not only did Philip open his mouth but got specific and "...told him the good news about Jesus." (vs. 35). It's all about Him!
4) Get Christlike-in other words- serve ( "...the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve..."-[Mt. 20:28] ). A little over a year ago I boarded a plane and found a young lady sleeping in my previously assigned window seat. She complained about being jet-lagged and tired and informed me she slept better in window seats , so I exchanged my seat for hers. When the plane got to cruising altitude, I gave her both seats (and my pillow and blanket) and went to the back of the plane to do some stretches and read my pocket New Testament. I let her sleep for an hour and a half, came back and found an appreciative young woman open to the gospel. She gave her life to Christ and joined a church in California. Before we landed she told me she was the victim of a praying grandmother. Grandma and I were unknowingly "co-workers" with God in His harvest field! (1 Cor. 3:9,2 Cor. 6:1)
5) Get personal- Ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom ("...he who wins souls is wise- [Prov. 11 30]) in guiding the conversation from broad generalities to specifics. Personally inquire what ,if anything, is holding them back from committing their life to Jesus. While trying not to be pushy or manipulative, (you don't want to talk them into something that someone else can talk them out of), communicate the basics of the gospel message and what God offers to them and requires from them.
   Years ago Loren Cunningham was on an American Airlines flight from LA to Dallas. He was seated next to a psychologist (and confirmed athiest!) from New Zealand. In the course of his conversation with her he felt prompted by the Lord to share some Biblical principles on "8 Steps To Suicide", writing them out on a sheet of paper, not knowing she had previously attempted to take her life several times previously. At the bottom of the note he put three steps back from suicide including repentance and faith in Christ.
     Fifteen years later that woman attended a meeting in Tauranga,NZ, where Loren was speaking and enthusiastically told him how she had come to Jesus after reading a book that he had given her on the plane. She had saved the book and the note all those years, and pulled it out of her purse to show him. Loren recognized his handwriting and they rejoiced together at God's awesome ways!
    Recently as a result of the Iceland volcano, YWAM leader Gwen Bergquist was bumped from a flight out of Munich that she needed to be on in order to fulfill teaching commitments in South Africa. Miraculously a seat opened up and she "just happened" to be seated next to a fellow traveler who had a similar experience at getting a seat. As the conversation went on, Gwen gave the man a tract and proceeded to tell him about Jesus. It turns out that two week prior, another person had given him a tract and he described having the same "feeling" in reading Gwen's tract as he did with the other one. She followed the Holy Spirit's prompting and led him to Jesus on the plane. Like Phillip of long ago she witnessed "on the go".
    Evangelism is not just an event, but a lifestyle of Jesus' friends who simply want to make new friends who can become friends of Jesus. We're on a train bound for glory. As we go let's enthusiastically invite others to climb aboard!