Evangelizing Bitter Relatives

Q. We recently had a revival at our church, and it got me to thinking about several family members who wouldn’t set foot in a church if their life depended on it. I am very concerned about a member of my family (my husband’s ailing grandfather). To my knowledge, he has not been inside a church since he was a young child (he is currently 70). He has a muddled world view that all religions lead to God, and stubbornly refuses to accept the need of a Savior. In my experience, most people tend to draw closer to the Lord in sickness and as they get older–but not him.

I also have a cousin who is currently in college. He was brought up in a secular home by two inattentive parents who just let the kids run wild. I think this environment may have contributed to the fact that he is now a very angry young man who struggles with depression and suicidal tendencies. He has relayed to me on several occasions that he believes there is “something” out there, but he is not sure what.

Religion is a very touchy subject because as a Christian, I don’t want to come off sounding like some pious “turn or burn” legalist because I want my unbelieving family members to feel comfortable confiding in me. I always hope that perhaps through discussions, I can bring up the subject of religion–and sometimes I do. But, it seems some are steadfastly unwilling to accept the fact that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life.

I apologize for the lengthy illustrations, but my main question is, is there an effective way to evangelize to someone who is extremely bitter, angry, and set in their ways? I pray daily that their ears and eyes will be opened, but sometimes I wonder if I am doing enough.

A. Since by your letter it looks like you’ve talked to each one of your relatives about Jesus, the best thing to do now is exactly what you are doing … pray. Pray that the Lord will cause them to bring up the subject so they won’t begin to run when they see you coming. God said that His word would not return void, (Isaiah 55:10-11) so you’ve begun something that He will see through. You won’t know how long it will take or how many people will eventually be involved, but only to keep praying.

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