APPROACHING STRANGERS – S.M.I.L.E.
It’s natural for strangers to be guarded when approached. Some Christians have asked me how to approach strangers to evangelize to them. My way is simply “S.M.I.L.E.”.
- Sensibility and common sense.
One expects decorum, respect for personal privacy and space, courtesy etc.
(Example:- A brother-in-Christ (BIC) new to street evangelism partnered me. We saw a lady seated alone in front of CK Dept Store, Chinatown. She was looking at her phone. BIC was enthusiastic. He abruptly plunk himself right next to her. She instantly jumped up, like a cat startled, and moved 2 metres away. BIC waved a gospel tract and assured her not to fear because he just wanted to share the gospel with her. But she left in a huff.)
- Select Target (Person I choose to approach.)
Preferred Targets are those who are alone and resting. Such Targets would not be distracted or influenced by any companion.
(Example:- Bedok Centre food center. 3 pioneer citizens A, B and C, shared a table with me. All listened intently to my sharing. Before I could complete preaching the gospel A warned me to stop. He said that they were all Buddhists and that he was warning me for my own sake. He said the C had just recently scolded a Christian who was trying to preach the gospel to them. Surprisingly C whispered to me, “It’s OK, it’s OK.” Apparently C was keen to listen more. But at A’s insistence I stopped preaching just to keep the peace.)
- Suspicion by a Target should not be aroused.
Assess Target from a reasonable distance. Don’t hesitate and hover near the Target. Target would become suspicious. Once a Target is selected, approach gently and confidently.When I approach a lady, I stay more than an arm’s lenght away and show her a gospel tract with a cross on it. The cross indicates my Christian identity and my intention. This would put her at ease. When alone, I avoid approaching any lady who is alone in a quiet spot.
- Smile with courteous greetings.
- Speak gently and humbly.
- Make casual chit-chat
Break ice, establish rapport. Guide conversation along to diagnose Target’s religious faith and any life challenges.
- Interested genuinely in the Target’s well being and eternal destiny.
This mindset is my compass to guide the direction of the chit-chat and not stray into aimless gossip.
- Listen sensitively.
Detect Target’s mood to assess suitability for gospel sharing at that moment.
- Look for key/s.
‘Key’ is information which I use to kick start sharing. Keys can be found in various ways, like the subject of conversation and personal effects worn by a Target.
(Examples:- (1) Changi Airport T1. Man reading soccer news. I asked him about soccer betting. This was key to testimony on how a person’s serious addiction to gambling was broken by Christ.)
- Enter into sharing testimony / gospel once any key is found and I sense that the Target is in the right frame of mind for that.
Serving My Lord with SMILE.
Brother Richard Chng