Words by Melissa Veldman
My friend puts her hand on my shoulder and sighs, “Melissa, you’re always so joyful.” I catch her eyes as they flit over my electric scooter. She blushes. I smile. I think about the chronic discomfort my body is plagued by. More importantly, I’m reminded of Jesus’ goodness through my suffering. A nagging thought eats at the corners of my mind, tell her about Jesus. Come on! This is kind of your thing. You’re a Christian… right? My nerves get the best of me. I shrug, “thanks. It sucks sometimes but you gotta focus on the positive, right?” She beams. “Yeah, that’s right.”
So, I have a little confession.
If my pastor shot me a preservice text, “Hey, Melissa…the sermon is on evangelism today! See you in the front row!” I would dread going to church. Earlier in my Christian walk, this propensity was more apparent. I hated talking about missions. The idea scared me. No, actually that’s an understatement. Evangelizing terrified me.
To this day, I hate conflict. I hate disagreements. Debates make me anxious. Naturally, the thought of having getting into an argument over the existence of God made my stomach turn. When in doubt, I’d comfort myself with Ephesians 4, “He has called SOME to be evangelists…” Unfortunately, most sermons end with the closing verses of Matthew 28 – the call for all of us to make disciples. A couple of years ago, I would leave church feeling guilty for not sharing my faith with my non-Christian friends and co-workers. The guilt would often turn into shame. How could I call myself a Christian if I didn’t want to tell people about Jesus?
For the longest time, I assumed Jesus viewed me through the same lens through which I viewed myself. Every Sunday for years, I would imagine Him watching me at church with a big frown on his face. “Come on, Melissa. Shake off the fear. Get it together”. But about a year ago, something unexpected happened. I found myself at a conference about missions. As I sat there, with familiar feelings of guilt and shame assaulting me, Jesus showed me a picture that I won’t soon forget. Gently grabbing my hand, He invited me to follow Him. He walked slightly in front of me. For a moment, He turned and smiled as if to say, “follow me and I’ll show you what I’m up too! It’s going to be so much fun!”
That moment with Jesus didn’t launch me into full-time missions. It didn’t take away all my fear. But it did change my perspective. He shifted the focus off of me and onto Him.
So maybe missions aren’t about arguments, debates and tense conversations. Maybe it’s simply about grabbing Jesus’ hand and joining Him in what He is already doing. That seems a lot less scary and a lot more exciting.
Maybe next time someone asks me where my smile comes from, I can grab Jesus’ hand and start by telling them the truth.
BIO: Melissa Veldman
Melissa works for Family Supports for Children with Disabilities and lives in Lethbridge, Alberta. She loves camping with her family, is passionate about worship and connecting with people.