iHOPE Empowers

Start Spiritual Conversations Part 1

Episode Summary

How confident are you at starting a conversation and steering it toward Jesus? Would you say you’re 70-80% confident? Even if you're 90% confident, that means you’re 10% doubtful. Even a little doubt can undermine your confidence. Don't let doubt count you out It’s impossible to be 100% confident about leading someone to Christ because only God the Father can enable someone to Jesus. However, you can be 100% confident in your ability to start a conversation, listen well, and ask really thoughtful questions. When you do those things well, you can release the outcome to the LORD. If you are less than 100% confident in your ability to start and naturally steer a conversation toward Jesus this story-packed episode is for you.

Episode Notes

How confident are you at starting a conversation and steering it toward Jesus? Would you say you’re 70-80% confident? Even if you're 90% confident, that means you’re 10% doubtful. Even a little doubt can undermine your confidence. Don't let doubt count you out


It’s impossible to be 100% confident about leading someone to Christ because only God the Father can enable someone to Jesus. However, you can be 100% confident in your ability to start a conversation, listen well, and ask really thoughtful questions. When you do those things well, you can release the outcome to the LORD.


If you are less than 100% confident in your ability to start and naturally steer a conversation toward Jesus this story-packed episode is for you. 

Episode Transcription

Karen (00:01): 

This is Karen Bejjani. I'm your host and I'm here together with Renod. 

Renod (00:11): 


Karen (00:11): 

Today we are so excited to talk with you about how to start spiritual conversations. Now, this is going to be a two-part podcast. Today we're really going to dive into your mindset and routines and where to go meet people so that you can start those conversations. And then in a couple of weeks, we'll dive in deeply on a process that you can use that will help you steer into those spiritual conversations. But before we go there, Renod why don't we start by sharing a story, about why it’s important that we do start these conversations? 

Renod (00:48): 

Yes. I want to start by telling you a story about a 13-year-old boy. His name is Nate. We'll call him. He grew up in Syria, right before the war started in Syria. And he overheard a spiritual conversation that forever changed his life in the lives of so many others. It started with him overhearing a conversation from a Christian talking with a Muslim and he heard the Christian quoting Romans 10:9. He was sharing with the Muslim man what he believed that if you confess with your mouth, that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart, that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. So Nate heard that and he couldn't get that out of his mind. And that started him on a journey. So as a 13-year-old, the son of an Imam in Syria,  he couldn't get that Bible verse out of his mind. So that started on a spiritual journey that lasted for the  next couple of years, and ended up with him becoming a follower of Jesus. And the thing is that he  shared it with his brother who became a believer, but then the persecution started. The war started.  And a Christian man who shared the gospel, who started a spiritual conversation, never met Nate again. So he  was not aware of the impact that his spiritual conversation had on Nate. Nate never met that. He  doesn't even know his name, but that conversation changed his life forever. Unfortunately, for his  brother, he was killed by his own father because he wouldn't convert back to Islam. And then the father tried to do the same with Nate, but Nate escaped. And then he became a follower of Jesus who wanted to share his faith with other Muslims. And he did. He's led hundreds of Muslims to faith in Christ since  then, despite many attempts on his life, by people who did not want him to share his faith. And he is a  church planter, and he is spreading the gospel all over the world through the internet, radio, and so on. But all of that started because one Christian man steered the conversation into spiritual matters,  shared the gospel that forever changed Nate's life and the lives of hundreds of other Muslims for  eternity. 

Karen (03:56): 

You know, it's great to hear Nate's story. And every time I hear it, I just get all emotional. But, I don't want you to miss this. The hero of that story is that unnamed Christian who unknowingly impacted tens of thousands of lives all over the world because he got the courage and the confidence and the skill to start a spiritual conversation that Nate overheard. And so for you here today, we want to encourage you. You never know when the Lord is going to use you to start a conversation that someone might overhear that would lead to that person, spreading the gospel all over the world. So this skill is so important to have, and most Christians don't know how to do this. And so that's why this content is so important for you today, Renod & I founded iHOPE Ministries a decade ago to really change the way people think about sharing their faith and empower and embolden people to do so. 

So with that in mind, Let's start with the role, your mindset and routines play in starting spiritual conversations. You know many people feel like a kitten when it comes to sharing their faith, they're timid and hiding  back, and a little bit afraid. And yet your thoughts are like that when you're feeling timid, or you're  lacking confidence, how likely are you to go out and start to share your faith or start spiritual conversations. 

Renod (06:18): 

Not very likely. 

Karen (06:19): 

Not very likely and yet, if you had the bold courage of a lion, how likely would you be to share your faith? Well, very so, you know, I can really relate to, that because I used to be that kitten. I thought that people of other faiths and cultures needed Jesus. And then I had a meltdown when I was surrounded by  mosques, bellowing out the Islamic call to prayer in a city in the middle east. I wanted to engage  Muslims rather than run away from them in fear but Renod took me into this city, this Islamic city, and I  was wrestling with doubt and unbelief. And I vowed never to return again with such a small trust in the  Lord. And years later, when I finally did return, the light that was within me was greater than the darkness that was in the world. And I wasn't afraid because you know why I had begun to seek the Lord with all my heart, spend time in His word and get some basic skills for how to start conversations and share my faith. So, you would not believe the transformation that happened years later then Renod brought me back to that same city and I had an opportunity to pray with a woman who was from a long  ago, tribe in Syria. I want you to imagine this. She had a blue tattoo, like an X on her forehead, (a deq) peeking  out from underneath her, hijab, and that connected her with a tribe, a Syrian tribe from long ago. Now had I met her years ago that blue tattoo that deq on her forehead would have intimidated me. And I  wouldn't have said a word, but this time, as she kind of clutched my hand. She told me through an interpreter that she wanted to pray to accept Jesus. Now, while that was going on, I happened to notice out of the corner of my eye, another woman in a hijab, a young woman watching us, and turns out she wanted to pray that same prayer. And so when we spoke her eyes, misted over with tears and she said something, I will never forget. she said "I feel something different about you and this place. I don't feel this way at home. I want this feeling, this kind of light with me always." Now, she went on to share the  Good News with her sister, and her sister accepted Jesus too. And then her sister did the same. 

I  often wonder what would have happened if I had not been ready to start spiritual conversations with that tattooed woman. How many times have I held back from sharing my faith or even starting conversations? Cause I didn't know how so I've given you a glimpse into the role that your mindset plays in sharing your faith. So let's talk about some routines that you can implement within your life. So what's one of the first routines. 

Renod (09:29): 

Well, the first thing to do is always pray. You've got to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. You folks already know that, but you've got to pray. So let's just remember that fundamental and then realize that  God is always at work. The Bible tells us God is always at work. He's always wooing somebody to Jesus.  So when we pray, we are praying that God will lead us to somebody that he's already wooing to Jesus.  So let me tell you about the simplicity of this and how it transformed Jason's life. Jason is an average everyday Christian. He goes to Church by trade, he's a banking executive, very busy travels all over the  US and sometimes the world in his business. Well, he felt convicted that he needed to be more salt and light and be more involved in the work of the great commission. So he started to skill up on how to start spiritual conversations, but then he didn't know exactly how he would meet people, where he would meet people, etc. So, we just shared with him, Jason, just started by praying because that's my experience  just pray, and God will lead you to those people. God will honor those prayers to create divine appointments. So Jason started with that fundamental praying, and God would lead him to divine  appointments. So God honors that prayer. And I can tell you that over and over with hundreds of other  people like Jason, but the point is now Jason, every time he goes out every day for work for anything to  run errands, he's praying for divine appointments. And he's led dozens of people from a Muslim  background to Jesus as Lord and Savior because he started by praying for divine appointments, 

Karen (11:37): 

As you say you might even need to pray a step before that, I know for myself, I felt quite a bit of fear  about engaging with Muslims and people of other nations. So I had to pray first that the Lord would  change my heart toward people of other faiths and nations and replace my own fear and timidity with  his heart, for the nations. And at that point, then I began to pray for those divine appointments cause I  wasn't ready for them yet. So that was the first step. The next step is to tithe your time, Now, what does  that mean? Well, many of us are already aware of this, this concept of tithing our finances, another step is to tithe your time. So here's the thing, we are all busy and between work and family obligations and church and volunteering and just juggling life, it's hard to make space, to start relationships, new relationships, or create times of intention when you were out looking to start those spiritual  conversations. And so here's the thing I know about me. If it's not on my calendar, it's not going to get done. And so if we're not intentional with our focus, it's not going to happen. I have a friend in Southern  California who was sharing with me just a few weeks ago that she and her family mark out times on their  calendar for going out and starting conversations, building relationships with the purpose of looking for those persons of peace, looking for those divine appointments, she didn't make space on her calendar it wasn't likely going to happen. So what she and her family do in order to tithe their time is they've  befriended some, people from other faiths and cultures through a local food bank, through their church.  And so through that, they put it on their calendar and there are built-in opportunities then for them to  start spiritual conversations and steer into those spiritual things, just because they're out there working  that food bank. In fact, they got an opportunity to befriend an Afghani refugee family, in their  neighborhood. And they have now almost every month, they're over engaging with them through, the  Christmas holidays, they were bringing them to church for the Christmas service. And then over Easter  had lots of really robust conversations about what Christians believe about Easter. So tithe your time.  That's a great thing just to get together with your family to consider what would that look like. Now  Renod you just mentioned Jason, so I know Jason and his family also tithe their time because they want  their daughter Emily to grow up, to know what it looks like to share her faith. 

Renod (14:24): 

Yes. But here's where again, thank you for sharing that, Karen, because it is so important to be  intentional about tithing your time. Jason literally put that on his calendar. So as he is putting up his  calendar, he factored in times. So do that because that is very transformational. And with Jason  modeling for their daughter, she's been involved as well. She's involved ever since she was eight years  old. Now she is a teenager and she's getting stronger and stronger at it, but it started with that tithing of  your time. 

Karen (15:03): 

Yep. Awesome. Okay. Another concept we want to unpack with you is to go where people are. So over  the last year, we've all been kind of hunkered down through this pandemic and it's been hard as we've been plugged into our homes to consider, you know, I want to begin to start spiritual conversations, but  how do I even do that? And so Renod and I are going to give you some ideas about the things you can  do from home or out and about. But the main concept here is to go where people are. So if you're going  to meet some people who are different than you, who have different beliefs than you, sometimes it  means getting out of our neighborhood or suburbs or out of our, comfortable routines. So we're going  to share with you bunches of ideas. And I think these are going to really inspire you or jog something in  your mind's eye how you and your family might be able to plugin, in a real natural way. So Renod let's  start with the first one. 

Renod (15:58): 

Yeah. The first one I want to tell you about Jay. Jay might be like a lot of you. He's a lot like me and that  is, he feels a little bit awkward socially and he's a shy introvert. I know it's hard to imagine myself as a shy  introvert, but I am. So Jay was like that, but he wanted to plug in. He wanted to be part of that. So he  realized, Hey, it's a good idea to go where the people are. So he found an international student ministry  through his church because there was a college nearby. He discovered through the international student ministry that colleges and you probably have a college nearby. I bet you do. So that means there's an international student ministry at that college, a Christian one that is, so you want to find it well, Jay found it. And then he volunteered, he went through the process with them. And then that means he was showing up at international student gatherings that they had, first of all, they would invite  international students in order just for hospitality so hopefully, that gives you an idea, just invite them over for a meal. So they would have a group meal, Jay would show up and it was naturally part of the process for him when he showed up that, he would be matched up with an international student that  wanted to practice their English and get to know more about this culture. So just by showing up, he got students, international students from all over the world to ask him questions. So he didn't have to work very hard and then they would have outings. So Jay would offer to drive them. So he would have two or three students in his car with him as a captive audience asking him questions, and he always used that as bridges to spiritual conversations and he shared Jesus with many international students from all over the world. So go where the people, idea one goes to where there are international student organizations  at a college near you, a Christian one. 

Karen (18:22): 

So I can't let this one go yet because this is one of my favorite places to meet people of other faiths and cultures. Because I think that international students that are here in the US are so wholehearted they're at that wonderful stage in their life where they're open up to all kinds of possibilities. So Renod and I,  when we have plugged in, in the past in international student organizations, it's been so fun to walk into the room and meet students from dozens and dozens and dozens of nations right there who have lots of questions about what Christians believe. 

Renod (18:58): 

Yes. Let me give you an example since we're sticking with Jay. Jay met students from Afghanistan,  Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Morocco, Japan, China, I could go on and on. These are countries he's never been to. He probably will never go there, but they were here. And this is important folks  because you can make the difference between international students, by the way, over 86% of them never get  invited to a Christian home or meet a Christian while they're in the US. So God has given us this  opportunity by bringing the nations to us. So do as Jay did just plug into where the nations have  already come here and be skilled up and intentional about starting spiritual conversations. That's why  this is so important.

Karen (19:54): 

So another one along the same lines, whereas a real natural place to get plugged in and have natural opportunities to start spiritual conversations is through volunteering with refugee resettlement agencies. Now, some of you who are listening today may not be in a place where there are many refugees and others of you might be places where there are many refugee resettlement agencies. That's  just a great place to plug in to have some of those very natural conversations 

Renod (20:26): 

I want to tell you about the impact of such an international student organization. And I'm going to do the same with refugees. So before we go too far away for international students, we will call her Sahar.  Sahar came here from Saudi Arabia with one volunteer who steered the conversation to spiritual matters with her after about a year and a half of starting that Sahar accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She shared that news over the internet with her family in Saudi Arabia, they got so worried about her thinking that she's going to hell because she became a Christian. They sent her sister to speak sense to her. So his, her sister flew here from Saudi Arabia, Sahar shared Jesus with her sister, eventually her sister accepted Christ. The family went nuts, so they sent their oldest brother to come to America to talk sense to them and try to get them back to Saudi Arabia so they can get them back to Islam. You know, the story. Now, the brother accepted Jesus. And then they, all, three of them shared their faith with their parents who started to warm up to the idea because they figured we can't send any more kids. They had other siblings, but they said we can't send any more kids lest they also become followers of Jesus. So that's an impact that an introvert like Jay had that changed people's lives forever and  refugees. I know you've got some stories about refugees. why don't you tell them about this refugee who came here from Uzbekistan, how many of you have been to Uzbekistan? You might not even know where on earth that is! So share with them a quick story of the impact of one person steering  conversations with a refugee. 

Karen (22:43): 

So I want to share a story about someone in this iHOPE community here in the United States. So she  plugged in to begin to work with the refugee resettlement agency and she was placed with a Uzbek  family initially they struggled with their conversation because her new friend didn't speak much English,  but she persevered. And so yesterday she sent a text of the two of them doing henna together. This  woman within the iHOPE community has retired and she is mentoring a young Uzbek mother, and she is  been taking her to her OBGYN appointments and walking her through. Now they know now she knows  enough English where they're having deep conversations, spiritual conversations about who Jesus is and  what Christians believe. So it all started because she began to tithe her time and put herself outside her  comfort zone, where people are by plugging into a refugee resettlement agency. 

Renod (23:45): 

And course she started with prayer. So let's talk more examples. I want to give you more fun ideas. So  let's go with ethnic food festivals or markets and restaurants, give them some examples of going where  the people are at. 

Karen (24:00): 

So, when you're looking for where people are, do a quick internet search for upcoming ethnic festivals.  So there are apps like, Evite and things like that that tell you about ethnic festivals that are near you, and  just before COVID began happening, there was a Turkish food festival happening near where we lived, in 

Southern California and so we grabbed some friends and went to that ethnic festival together. And in  that process, imagine you walk into a sea of so much Turkish food, you couldn't imagine it. And, so many  colors and voices and sounds languages all around but it's so easy to dive into that because a natural  way to start conversations begins and revolves around the food. 

Renod (24:57): 

So tell them about very shy, introverted Deb, and we'll call her Deb who went with you, who felt  awkward, socially awkward. Again, she was probably a female version of me. And she didn't know where  to meet people like that from other faiths and cultures, but you took her with you to the festival and  that has led to her meeting people of other faiths and cultures that she's mentoring 

Karen (25:25): 

Yeah. So let me tell you an example of how easy it is to dive in, as you're looking at this strange ethnic  food at a festival, a market, or restaurant to ask,tell me about that. What is that that you're eating? Oh, it  turns out that it's some kind of special family recipe from generations ago, then that pulls into, oh, my  name is Karen, tell me about you. And then that strikes up a conversation. I'm a follower of Jesus. And  then the woman always answers back. Well, I'm Muslim. And let me tell you about that. And the next thing, you know, we're off and running into spiritual things, just laughing about recipes and, our mother-in-law's, where the recipes came from, and the history behind them. And then we naturally steer that  into holidays and holiday recipes and what we believe about holidays. So conversations flow out so naturally, Another place to go where people are is to volunteer your time at local food banks. Especially  during this time in this pandemic has been very difficult on people with many people, feeling a sense of  hopelessness and despair as the world has changed so dramatically. My friend, we'll call her Mary has  plugged in and has had deep spiritual conversations as she's worked food banks, over this, pandemic  this past year. So that's another opportunity to meet men and women of other faiths and cultures with  the intent to start spiritual conversations. 

Renod (26:59): 

Yes, another idea of where you can transform people's lives just by going, where the people are, Go to  places of worship of other religions, find a mosque near you. There probably is one or a temple,  Buddhist or Hindu. I want to tell you about Brynne we'll call her. Brynn intentionally again, she was  about in her twenties, college student felt a little awkward but felt compelled to be intentional about  =doing this. So she would find other places of worship close to her college. We did something we called prayer walk. So she went with a girlfriend, another student, and they would just walk around the place  she was praying, but that was always a setup for divine appointments. I'll tell you about one. In the middle of the pandemic, as they were praying, walking around a mosque, there was, it looked like a  mother, or a couple of families walking by. So Bryyne asked them, Hey, we are two followers of Jesus here, and we were just walking around, praying around the mosque. Were you just praying in there? Or are you guys open for prayer? And the woman the mother said, well, no not really, but we were in there, we were trying to pray. She said, well, I pray in the name of Jesus, may I pray for you during this  time? And the woman said, no, no, thank you. And then she started to walk away back into the mosque,  but there was a 10-year-old girl that walked up to Brynne, who was listening from just overhearing the conversation. She said I would like you to pray with me. That started a friendship between Brynne and  this 10-year-old girl. And they started having prayers together after that, which led to Bible studies. That girl has accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, as a result of Brynne being around the mosque, doing a  prayer walk, we can share so many stories with you like that, but folks, God will use those conversations  or those spiritual conversations to change people's lives forever. Cause that 10-year-old girl has now 

shared her faith with her family who are also asking Brynne questions and having her study with them  and pray with them. 

Karen (29:59): 

So I want to leave me with just a few more ideas on where you can go, where people are as we wrap up  our time together today. And so when I first started on this journey a decade ago and began to set out  and look for people of other faiths and cultures, what I realized in this concept of tithing my time, I  needed to focus on both going to be where people are. And so in order to do that, I began to do an  internet search to find where do people live, who are from other faiths and cultures? One of the fastest  ways I could find them was through a website called sell automatic.com. I'll put that in the show notes,  but it's S a L a T O M a T I c.com. And in this website, you can put in your app address or your zip code,  and you'll find within a radius of five, ten, thirty miles, you'll find mosques, Halaal restaurants, Halaal,  grocery stores, 

Renod (31:06): 

Those are ethnic restaurants, grocery stores, where a lot of internationals frequent. 

Karen (31:11): 

And when you go there, take a girlfriend, take your spouse, go as a family on a field trip to a restaurant,  to an ethnic restaurant, to an ethnic market. And when you go in and visit, there's always a circular right  in the front of the front door where they have the like advertising pages, where businesses that appeal  to the ethnic neighborhood. It's like a newspaper advertisement for the local businesses, or like a  circular for the people who live in the area. So when you get that grab that it's always free, that will tell  you other markets and restaurants and stores within the area that will appeal to those people of  different faiths and cultures. And that's a great place to go on field trips with your family. 

Renod (32:19): 

Yeah. So before we leave today, I want to leave you with a story that happened to us at a restaurant. So  we went to an ethnic restaurant and before having the meal. So here we were, we were surrounded by  people of other faiths and cultures specifically in this case, Muslims, Karen, and I bowed our heads and we  prayed for the meal. And we prayed a little bit loud enough to where the table next to us could hear  over here a little bit. And I said in Jesus' name, amen. I opened my eyes. And I realized there was a  Muslim woman, a couple of tables over that was looking at us and she kept looking. So I made eye  contact. Now it was safe for me to do that with a Muslim woman because she was looking at me, but I  was, you know, with Karen, with my wife. So we made eye contact and she smiled a little bit shy but  smiled. So at that point, we felt bold enough to just approach her, not too close, again, socially distant.  So on, depending on how things are the pandemic in your area. And we introduced ourselves and she  said, yeah, my name is Dee. And I was just wondering, what were you guys doing right before you ate?  And that started the spiritual conversation. I want to tell you the story isn't closed with Dee but we  prayed with Dee we've become friends. She has come and had Bible study with us. So the story is  ongoing, but you never know how God will use those spiritual conversation starters to get you going,  but you've got to go where people of other faiths and cultures are at, and again reminding you folks, this is why this matters. Remember the story that we started out with Nate. Now he is sharing his faith  with thousands, actually, tens of thousands of others and he's led hundreds of Muslims to faith in Jesus  Christ all around the world but it started with that one, unnamed Christian that started a spiritual  conversation with someone of another faith and culture. This is important. That's why this matters.

Karen (35:21): 

Awesome. So in summary, start by praying for divine appointments, tithe your time go where people  are. And in two weeks from now, we'll tell you exactly how a process that you can do to start and lean  into those spiritual conversations. 

Renod (35:38): 

And it's simple and easy, and you can do it, 

Karen (35:43): 

Talk to you soon. Bye-bye