The Apologetics Conference of 2018 has come and gone at Sagemont Church. Although it was great and very enlightening, I’m sure that for more than a few people the insight and education learned during the conference is as far as it goes for them. Of course, others have been inspired and are looking for ways to delve deeper into this field and actively engage people in discussions about Jesus and spread the Gospel.
Two young men who have their hearts on fire for spreading the Gospel outside of the safety of church walls are Chris Inoma and Miguel Reyes. As a team, they actively seek out opportunities every week to share Christ and the Good News with others. Both Chris and Miguel are active in Sagemont’s College Ministry, Sagemont U. If you’re between 18-25 and want to learn and do more in apologetics check out Sagemont U (you don’t have to be in college to be in this ministry).
They clarify that apologetics for Millennials requires something more than just discussions. Miguel explained, “People in this age group want action! They want love and they want to be pursued. They don’t just want to hear about what they can find online for themselves. They want to see the changed lives in the people talking to them and then they start to desire the same change to happen within them.” Chris added, “People of all ages really want the same thing: 1. Relationship with God, 2. Purpose in their lives, 3. Community – somewhere to belong.”
Chris Inoma bases his whole ministry on Luke 10:1-11 (NLT) describing how Jesus chose and sent out his disciples. He says it’s the whole foundation of what he shares with others. And Miguel Reyes looks to Matthew 13:1-9 (NLT) which is the parable of the farmer and the seeds.
Faithfully, Chris and Miguel go to Baybrook Mall on Saturday mornings and strike up conversations with total strangers with the ultimate goal of sharing Christ with them. They have three different strategies that they engage in most often. Although the whole process can seem awkward and weird, because no one actually walks up and introduces himself anymore, Chris and Miguel persevere. Chris says, “We work this way because of how Jesus sent out his disciplines in Luke 10:1 ‘…and sent them ahead in pairs to all of the towns and places he planned to visit.’ We’re encouraged to go out and witness this way because there is power in unity and prayer with other believers. This way you’re not putting all the weight on yourself of conversation or any awkwardness in general. “
Working as a team, they simply introduce themselves and ask the individual or small group of people if they can pray for them (this is usually when any religious barrier will pop up) or the person may say “sure” and they just start talking to them. They also look for common interests that can be used to start a conversation. Or they might ask if they can share a story with them. While the person they’ve approached has no idea what the story is about, maybe the great pizza I had last night or the story of the Shepherd and the 99 sheep and the one that was lost. Miguel uses this story often and will work the person he’s talking to into the story to get him to interact. They will circle back to the person’s choice of whether the person would go get the lost sheep or whether they wouldn’t.
You can really do this with a lot of Bible stories. For instance, in the story of the good Samaritan the people may imagine that they’re the person walking by to help the injured man. They get involved in the story and it makes sense to them. Then at the turn of a button, you start talking about who Jesus is.
These stories aren’t presented in a religious format, they’re often paraphrased and broken down into layman’s terms and in today’s language. This way there’s no religious barrier – it’s just a story of what happened.
Every once in a while, the team is led to ask someone point-blank about Jesus and who He is.
Scripture also prepares them for when they get a negative reaction. They simply shake it off – it’s not personal and it’s already covered in scripture. Luke 10:10 -11 “But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, the very dust of your city which clings to us we wipe off against you. Nevertheless, know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you.” They don’t try to hard-knuckle anything and bust down the wall that has gone up. That person just may not be ready yet to hear about Jesus or they aren’t the ones to share the good news with that individual or group.
They pray about it and then they search for where God is working and they stay there and invest there. Again, referring to Luke 10:6-7, if there is peace with the individual/group they will remain with them as long as they are meant to be there. Chris and Miguel emphasize continually that they are simply followers of Christ and they go where they’re led.
Baybrook Mall has a lot of kiosks and most of the same vendors work each weekend. Chris and Miguel make the rounds talking to them, asking to pray with them and building up relationships. Most of the vendors that they talk with are Muslim, Arabic or Middle Eastern. Quite often they’re either Muslim or Jewish and when you ask if you can pray with them, they’re confused because they’ve already said their prayers and they don’t understand what we’re doing and it’s weird to them. More often than not, though, they will let Chris and Miguel pray for them.
Although they haven’t had any vendors accept Christ yet, there is one vendor who seems to look forward to their conversations and the concern these two have for him. He was somewhat distant one Saturday and the next Saturday shared about the loss of his uncle. And he actually opened up about what was happening in his life. This vendor now looks forward to Chris and Miguel praying for him each week.
When asked why there aren’t more teams going out with them, they thoughtfully observed that sometimes they are the biggest obstacles people in the ministry have to overcome when they want to witness to others. Miguel offered additional insight, “At Sagemont U we meet on Thursday evenings, we have a small meal and a worship service and then we break into small groups. We focus on accountability, transparency and discipleship. We have so many opportunities besides the outreach on Saturdays at Baybrook Mall to be obedient and share the gospel, but we need people to step up. We have outreach on both the main and south campuses of San Jacinto College but many of the people that are in Sagemont U and go to these campuses just don’t get involved. There are also opportunities for people in the Student Ministry to serve on Sunday mornings in the 6th – 12th grade classes.” For anyone who wants to practice or simply observe how to get started doing what Chris and Miguel do, just meet with them on a Saturday morning. Baybrook Mall is the best practice beginners can have. Rest assured, no one has to jump in and do anything, because simply by being there, praying and observing, you’re already being used by God.
Anytime Chris and Miguel are challenged with questions they don’t have the answer to, they affirm that it’s a great question and offer to work with the person and look for the answer together. It’s a great opportunity for them to meet again and for both sides to do more research before their next meeting.
Miguel asks this question most of the time during his conversations, “If you knew Jesus was real would you believe it, yes or no? Some people will say no and you know that their heart is closed to the idea of Jesus. And if they say “Yes,” great – we have a starting point and we can work from there.”
Since being in this ministry Chris has noticed that it emphasizes for him the direct command in Matthew 28 to go and make disciples of all nations. He fully embraces this scripture and knows that it is something we need to be obedient to. He shared four methods he uses to grow closer to God:
Reading the Word
Being in Prayer
Sharing the Gospel
Doing these things really increases your faith. Verbally saying what you’re reading stirs up your faith and reminds you of what God has done in your life. Sharing your testimony with others encourages you that God has done a work in your life and that He will continue to do a work in your life. The scriptures that sustains me personally, day in and day out, are Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” And Acts 2:42, “All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer.”
For Miguel, “This journey in apologetics makes it real. A lot of times people grow up in church all their life and all they know is within the church walls. But once you step out and you’re in the world, sometimes people’s faith will fall and on the other side, you’re like, I have the whole world to tell. For me growing up, I had trouble with my emotions, so for me, I look at everything now as an opportunity and a way to talk to people. I watch movies and read books and I’ll put myself in the characters role and situation and work to figure out how would you present the Gospel in this movie or book.
“I’m constantly thinking about the ways God is moving in people’s lives and I’m always reminded that this is real. My faith is real. Jesus is real.”
And this gives me back emotions I’ve forgotten about. When I have real emotional encounters, it brings me back that I was so bad for so long and God brought me back and he is so good. Even in this world we’re in today – He is so good. That’s probably why this scripture is what sustains me in my daily life, 1 Cor 13:4-7 ‘Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoiced whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.’”
Miguel summed up the Sagemont U ministry based on what he heard from Priscilla Shirer at the Passion Conference in Georgia:
“Come as you are but don’t stay as you are!”
If you’re college aged (18-25 (whether in college or not)) and interested in finding out more here’s some key information for you. This ministry is defined on the Sagemontchurch.org website as:
Sagemont’s College Ministry, Sagemont U, is geared toward young adults entering a unique area of their life; an area where love and community is not always easy to see. Sagemont U is a ministry that God uses to show college-aged students that He loves them and that His family loves them.
The teaching is presented in two separate services: Sunday mornings in the Room WC1315 at 11:15am and Thursday nights in the Great Room starting at 6:30 pm. The sermon series alternate between the Old and New Testaments to touch upon all different topics applicable to the college stage of life.