By Kayte Abaffy: Producer of The Way Documentary
Two years ago, I was driving on the Paciﬁc Coast Highway with my husband, sparkling blue ocean to our left and golden mountains to our right, coming home to Los Angeles from a transformative conference in San Diego. Torah keepers had gathered for a weekend of learning stuff and worshipping and hanging out by the pool till 2am sharing our stories. And that weekend wasn’t just an awesome conference – it was the start of us ﬁlming for The Way documentary, and our ﬁrst real deep dive into the experiences of people walking in The Way.
Even after we’d only interviewed our ﬁrst handful of people, something had already become clear: sharing your new walk with friends and family is … well … a thing. When we asked interview subjects how people reacted to their new walk (siblings, children, spouses, parents, pastors, lifelong friends), lots of interesting body language things would happen – eyes would well up with tears or dart to the ﬂoor, or there’d be a great big sigh, or laughter, or a look of searching for the right words to make a tough situation sound positive.
Of course, some people’s families or friends had taken instant interest, or tried hard to understand what their loved one was learning in the Word. And some even quickly came to the same understanding. But for lots of others, the reactions ranged from cold shoulders to confusion, awkwardness to outright hostility.
So how do you share your walk (and enthusiasm for the Torah) with people you love, when there seems to be so much baggage surrounding a conversation that hasn’t even begun yet?
One thought that’s really helped me is to make the fruit of your life available to people who’re actually hungry. Trees that throw their apples at people are scary, like in the Wizard of Oz. But in life, a person walks by and picks an apple from the tree when they’re hungry.
So often we try to jam a feast down the throat of a person who’s perfectly full. And then we’re frustrated when they don’t receive it and wonder why they resent us. But God works with hunger. And we should too. Remember what Yeshua said? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be ﬁlled.” It’s hard to convince someone of how great the solution you’ve found is, when they don’t even think there’s a problem. But the great news is that there are plenty of hungry people out there, we just need to be there to minister to them!
Here are a few other ideas I’ve come up with to share Yeshua and your walk with others, as I’ve marinated on this question over the last two years:
1) Share your joys
There’s so much hate in the world. And crunchiness and contentiousness and weirdness and sad stuff. Why not be a rebel and lead with something happy? Ha. But really. Every person responds to information in different ways (we met one lady who was confronted with Shabbat by someone she called “abrasive” – and she was thankful that the “abrasive” woman had taken that harsh approach!) But my inclination has always been to share really speciﬁc things that I love about this walk. It’s hard to pick a ﬁght someone who’s super happy 🙂 Things like …
– It is SO refreshing for my heart to have a guilt-free 24 hours to relax, sing worship songs, pray, eat delicious things, spend time in the Word, hang out with friends and not even THINK about working 🙂
– I was kinda nervous about spending a week camping out with a bunch of perfect strangers, but it was one of the best weeks of my life. My brain basically exploded (in a good way) going from campﬁre to campﬁre, hearing all the crazy conversations about Bible things. It’s like each person had a new revelation from their digging in Scripture. And we played human foosball! And I felt like no matter who I walked up to, we’d instantly start sharing our lives and have so much to talk about. Plus the b-b-q contest was epic.
– Meeting with other believers in a home feels like one of those 6-person classes in college where you can’t just sit in the back and not have done your homework – and that’s the beauty of it. When we come together to dig into the Word, you can actually share what you’re learning and hear the perspectives of people in all stages of life, rather than just from one person. That’s been really cool.
2) Use organic moments
When you walk this way, all of a sudden, visual manifestations of our faith pop up all throughout each day. And that means easy entry points for great conversations with others. So when your friend asks you why you keep raving about beef bacon, or what that colorful string is dangling off of your shirt, or says, “You’re getting ready for Yom Kippur? I thought that was Jewish …” you can seize that perfect opportunity to explain how following God’s wisdom in His commands is great for our health, or how your tzitzit reminds you to choose life, or how every feast day so gorgeously centers around Yeshua.
3) Know how to sum it all up
There’s nothing worse than being in the weeds of a heated discussion, not even sure how you got there. Since literally every facet of our lives is affected by our faith, it’s easy to get wrapped up in debating details, before you’ve even explained the big picture of why you care in the ﬁrst place. I’ve found that it’s SUPER helpful (and clarity-inducing) to have a two-sentence “sum up” to lay the groundwork with someone I’m talking to, before I get into nitty gritty things. For me that’s something like, “I realized that we literally only have one perfect example of how to live, and so I started asking myself – why would I do anything differently from Him? So I’ve been on a journey of testing my life to the litmus test of His life, from how He ate to the holidays He celebrated.”
4) Speak their language
I love how rich the Word is. So many layers and so many metaphors to draw from. And Yeshua was the master of delivering the message in a way that would resonate deeply with the people listening. He spoke ﬁsh to ﬁshermen and seeds to farmers. Who are you talking to? And what language will resonate with them? The Torah as a genius legal constitution to keep a nation blessed and just? The commands as our “video game cheat code” for life, so we know what leads to blessings and curses without having to try everything out? The fact that obedience is actually God’s love language?
5) Ask good questions
When you’re praying about sharing your walk with a friend or family member, and you’re gathering your thoughts, don’t just load your arsenal with facts to pelt at them, have a few thought-provoking questions that you think might engage them. Yeshua used questions all the time. Questions are dynamic. A fact doesn’t demand to be interacted with, but a question does. Things like, “Did you know Christmas used to be illegal in the US?” or “Have you ever thought about what all of the unclean animals listed in the Old Testament have in common?” … questions get the juices ﬂowing.
6) Don’t be in a hurry
It sometimes amazes me when I hear people speak with disdain or condemnation about a friend or family member who refuses to see things their way after just one conversation, when in reality, God has had such immeasurable patience with us and continues to!
Go into your conversations with loved ones prayerfully and with a heart of patience. You might not see a plant spring up right there in the moment, but God is the one who brings the increase. It’s the Holy Spirit who’ll ultimately work in their hearts and open their eyes to what He wants for them. And that should make you breathe a sigh of relief 🙂
I think we sometimes forget that the Bible uses agrarian language to describe our spiritual lives. Not microwave language or infommercial language or get-rich-quick-language. Think about the time it takes to prepare soil, plant a seed, care for it, see it grow and then to actually reap fruit from it. Be encouraged! Have a long-term paradigm.
7) Give them The Way documentary
I couldn’t round off this list without mentioning The Way documentary 🙂
A major hurdle for so many people we’ve met seems to be that phenomenon of “a prophet is without honor in his own country” and that it can be so hard for your father or best friend or neighbor to take what you’ve found seriously. But there’s a way you can get around that!
In The Way, we travel the world to talk to theologians at Oxford and pastors in New York City and professors in Canada and every-day believers to get to the bottom of questions like:
– If Jesus lived a perfect life, why do modern-day Christians live so differently from Him, in everything from our diet to our dress to our holidays and day of worship?
– If God never changes, why is His moral code for modern-day believers different from the one He gave everyone in the Old Testament?
– Why do we see the apostles observing Passover and other biblical festivals that are nowhere to be found in our modern-day church?
Since we released the ﬁlm in August, story after story has poured in about churches switching to worshipping on the Sabbath and resistant teenagers now wanting to walk in The Way and even one of a lady who’d been witnessing to her hairdresser and went in to ﬁnd that her hairdresser had seen The Way and that everything ﬁnally clicked for her! Amazing things are happening and we couldn’t be more excited.
One friend we met during ﬁlming shared a Facebook status that said, “If you’ve been wondering what I believe, this ﬁlm is my answer” and shared The Way’s trailer.
We made The Way because we know how many incredible facts there are to share, and how many untruths and misconceptions there are to uproot and how many joys there are to experience in this walk. It’s hard to go deep into history and theology and facts and research and Bible, all in one conversation. And you don’t have to! Just hand them a copy of The Way 🙂
You can watch the trailer, learn more about the ﬁlm and buy a DVD or digital download at our site: www.thewaydoc.com.