Over the years, people have come to me about how best to approach someone with the gospel who is dying, be it a friend or neighbor or family member. This is usually a situation where the ailing person has kept their distance in the relationship and/or has been antagonistic when it comes to “talking about religion.” Sometimes it all comes down to the Christian being shy or feeling inadequate to present or argue about their faith in Christ which they desire to share. Time is now running out and so they ask me, “What can I do?”
The Heidelberg Maneuver
My answer to them has been to start with sharing the first question and answer of the Heidelberg Catechism with the person they want to hopefully evangelize.
Question 1: What is your only comfort, in life and in death?
Answer: That I belong, body and soul, in life and in death, not to myself but to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ, who at the cost of His own blood has fully paid for all my sins and has completely freed me from the dominion of the devil; that He protects me so well that without the will of my Father in heaven not a hair can fall from my head; Indeed, that everything must fit His purpose for my salvation. Therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for Him.
This is a powerfully honest introduction to the gospel that also serves as a summation of every Christian’s testimony. The friend, sister, next-door neighbor, can be handed this with a simple, “This has always meant so much to me and I just thought to share it with you.” Then step back or come back later for—hopefully—a longer conversation.
You can also include this first part of the Heidelberg in a card or letter. Just simply share your concern for the other person’s soul, include a brief introduction of how this statement of comfort has effected your own life and let the content of this wonderfully poetic and devotional affirmation speak to the person that your heart is going out to.