I am an introvert. I don’t like the thought of people looking at me. I feel awkward when I must make eye contact with another person. I get anxious when I’m surrounded by so many people, regardless if they’re familiar or not. I rarely initiate conversations, and there are times when I prefer not to initiate talking at all. I had to participate in declamation contests and impromptu speeches back in elementary and high school, not because I volunteered to do so, but because I was tasked to. I’d follow my family and teachers’ advice to use my imagination and transform the crowd into potato sacks so I wouldn’t feel that nervous.
College came. It was a bigger, more overwhelming world for me. My blockmates came from different schools, had different personalities and preferences. “I don’t have to blend in,” I thought to myself. “I can stay here in my safe corner with a friend or a few friends.”
The Call to Speak
But I was already a follower of Jesus then.
As His follower, His call for me is to fish for people by preaching the Gospel and helping them follow Him. I used to think that one should be an extrovert and a good communicator to win souls for Christ. I didn’t have those qualifications.
Four months into the first semester of my first year in college, I was prompted by the Holy Spirit to share the Gospel to two of my roommates. I was hesitant, shy, and scared. But the promptings were so strong that I chose to break through the fear anyway. After attending a Sunday service, I got my notebook and wrote a script just for me to have a guide on what to say to them. These two were the first people that I shared the Gospel to who weren’t family members. Ten years after that day, I can say that my two friends are still involved and connected to a local church, serving and making disciples.
The Next Big Step
I thought that preaching the Gospel to my two friends was enough until God led me to preach to our whole class at school. Unbelievable. I could barely gather my courage for my two friends, how much more for my whole class? I found myself meditating on these verses one morning:
“But Moses said to the Lord, “Oh, my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue.” Then the Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.” Exodus 4:10-12
I had my “Moses moment” right there. The statement that Moses said to God when he was told to go to Pharaoh was the very statement I uttered to God that morning: “I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant…” God responded to me the way He responded to Moses. “Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak.”
Just like Moses
Moses made a few more attempts to change God’s mind in choosing him. Just like Moses, I tried to bargain with God, too. He could always pick someone who’s eloquent and who’s not slow in speech. But He also chooses what is weak in this world to shame the strong, and to display His glory and strength (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).
I was always the girl behind the laptop, creating and clicking the Power Point slides. But by God’s grace and by the power of the Holy Spirit, I conquered my fear and shared the Gospel to my blockmates. I did this while I reported in class for the very first time. Each of us had the task to discuss a canto from the Inferno by Dante Alighieri. I thought that if I were given the opportunity to talk about hell in front of people, then why not talk about Jesus and Heaven? After that report, one of my classmates approached me and asked if I was a Christian. From that point, I was able to connect him to a church community.
Since that day, I finally understood that my introversion and my faith didn’t have to go against each other. I understood that it’s not my personality, my notes, my communication skills, nor my courage that would allow me to speak in front of friends or in front of a crowd. It’s the Holy Spirit who gives me the power to speak and be a bold witness for Jesus (Acts 1:8).
No Longer Afraid
In 2017, three years after college, God called me to teach college students at the De La Salle Health Sciences Institute. I preached the Gospel to the 32 students in my class at that time, and a number of them surrendered their lives to Jesus that day. Praise God! God also gave me opportunities to speak in front of parents and teachers in seminars as part of my former profession as a speech therapist.
God then called me to full-time campus ministry and now, I have preached at a youth camp and a campus retreat. I’ve also conducted trainings, hosted at campus outreach events, exhorted during services and prayer meetings with 50 – 100+ people, and more. I used to dread small talk, but God made me see that small talk is a way to build relationships with people and eventually introduce Jesus to them.
I still feel butterflies in my tummy when I’m about to stand in front. I still get a little anxious and nervous in the middle of crowds, but for some amazing reason, I have realized that I enjoy talking to people now, be it on a one-on-one or a setup with small groups or big groups.
I’m more courageous than before, knowing that I have the Greatest Story to tell everyone, and I have the Holy Spirit working in me and speaking through me. It is such a humbling and beautiful privilege to be used by God to tell His story for His glory.
This article first appeared in One Voice Magazine on July 29, 2020.
Raizel Leuterio is a part-time speech therapist who finds joy in seeing sunsets, oceans, stars, and young people changing the world. You can check out her blog at www.sunsetsoceansstars.wordpress.com