The first time I can remember trying to witness to someone, we were on a trip through the Redwood National Park in Northern California. We were taking a train through the forest, and I got the idea to witness to the lady sitting beside us. I was probably around nine or ten at the time. I don't remember exactly what I said. It was something to the effect of a simple gospel presentation, I probably quoted a verse or two, and I asked something along the lines of "Are you interested?" or "Would you like to know more?" or something. What I remember very clearly was her reply. "No thanks, I have other beliefs." And that was the end of it. Years later I realized that I could have asked what those beliefs were and kept the conversation going (Although I don't know whether she would have actually told me, and I don't know whether, at nine or ten, I could really have said anything anyway). Strike one.
A few years ago, I was taking a Sunday School class where we learned one method of presenting the gospel ( http://www.matthiasmedia.com.au/2wtl/ if you're interested). This method uses diagrams to illustrate what we are saying. I was practicing these diagrams while on the commuter train one day, and the woman next to me asked what I was doing. I told her that I was working on something for my Sunday School class. A few hours later, I realized that I could have asked her if she would like me to show her. Strike two.
Fast forward to about a month ago. I was doing dishes at work, and one of the new guys was doing them with me. He and I got to talking, and he asked what religion I belonged to. When I told him, he started to ask me questions about what I believe. He mentioned that he was Mormon, and that one of the things that confused him about Protestant Christianity was the fact that, though salvation is by faith, we are supposed to be trying to be more like Christ, which seemed to him to be the same works that the Mormons are trying to use to get to heaven. This scared me a little, because though I understood the answer, I had never thought about how to articulate it before. After a bit of thought (and a quick prayer that I wouldn't say the wrong thing), I explained that our good works are not an attempt to try to get into heaven, but a reflection of our gratitude to God, and a demonstration to the world that we are new creatures, saved by grace. He nodded a little, and seemed to actually be thinking about it, not just trying to find some argument against it. Then I got called back up to the front, and we never continued the conversation. Strike three, maybe?
But the great thing about God is that He is a God of second chances (and third chances, and fifty-sixth chances). And even if I have struck out of this inning, there are still eight more. And there are 161 more games left to play. And I seem to be more and more prepared each time. And some day, by God's grace, I will be able to hold my own, an