“10/10. The date’s a special day…”
Frank smiles, as he recalls something that took place seven years ago, to the day: “I had the privilege of leading a guy to Christ. Things were not going well for this man, in his marriage. He had come into my office at church, on a Sunday, just to get some clarity about the Gospel. We talked for an hour and a half. It was a wonderful time. And he accepted Jesus that day!”
He then goes on to talk about sending this man a short text message earlier in the day, just to wish him a spiritual “happy birthday:” “You know, today’s a special day… And he really appreciated it.”
For those that know Frank DiMarco, it should come as no surprise to hear him talk about his passion for sharing Jesus; nor should it come as any surprise to hear about his heart for the spiritual welfare of others. We recently had the opportunity to share a meal with Frank and his wife Betty, while asking him some questions about his approach to sharing his faith with others.
Why is sharing your faith important to you?
Frank: What’s important to me are people’s eternal lives. When I came to understand that I could have a role in that, to be a conduit for the Lord, helping people gain an understanding of the Gospel, and what’s at stake, it just became irresistible to me. I knew what the Lord had done my life, and in Betty’s. I had a vision like Bill Fay’s [author of Share Jesus Without Fear]. Bill Fay had this vision, when he got saved. It was like he was on a sinking ship, just getting smashed against a rocky coast. He was able to get out and climb ashore. Others were trying to climb ashore too. Rather than remaining in a safe place, he just kept going back to help the people who were still being battered in the water.
I really saw that as what I was being called to do. The Lord just used me with people. When I would be talking to them, people tended to trust me, and to share things. So, there were opportunities within that; to talk to them about Jesus, and to really talk them through key scriptures; to tell them what the Bible says about us, and about eternal life. It’s a passion that the Lord gave me.
What do you think prevents people from sharing their faith?
Frank: That’s a really complex question, and there are lots of reasons; reasons that are not valid, but people are still hampered by them because they think they’re valid. Sometimes it’s a belief that they don’t know the Bible well enough. Maybe it’s fear… fear of rejection, or fear of losing a friend. It’s like they think: “I don’t want to lose a friend. I would rather say nothing at all, even knowing what’s at stake, than risk them rejecting me as a friend.”
I think that it comes down to that if you really believe what the Bible says is true… I don’t see how you can not share it. But as I say that, you know, I’ve been hampered too, many a time. Times where my mind just wasn’t in the right place at that moment, to see what was going on. Times where I didn’t take the opportunity to ask questions that built on whatever was going on; to open a door.
But anyway, I think there’s also a fear of having a lack of knowledge; being afraid you might say the wrong thing; being afraid that if you start to open a conversation, you might be asked a question that you can’t answer. I love Pastor Bubba’s response to that, which is like “Hey, you know what? I don’t have the answer right now to that. But let’s open up the Bible together.” And to use that, saying let’s just read the Bible, and see what it says,” to initiate meeting with someone on a regular basis.
Tell us about a time when you felt a conviction to share your faith
Frank: I was on a men’s weekend through my church, and I heard this message about us all being called to be an influence in our environments. I worked in a very tough, secular, environment. I zoned in on that, asking “How Lord, how? How am I going to share my faith in this School?” – I was the principal of a school at that time – “How am I going to do that?” My hands were starting to sweat, literally, when I was hearing that message. That was the thing that launched me, that message. I understood from that, that that’s the call for us; to be disciple makers. I’m so type A… my mind was spinning during that session. The Lord put on my heart then, “Frank, don’t get ahead of me! I will show you, and you will move forward. Otherwise, you will wait.” So that was in my mind, and the key for me was to be prayed up all the time; to be prepared in every way.
One time, and this was really crazy, involved a first-year teacher in the school where I was principal. We were probably three weeks into the school year. I was awakened at three o’clock in the morning. Awakened with a thought in my head, that I was supposed to share the Gospel with her; this new teacher. I couldn’t even go back to sleep. This was the first time that something like this would directly happen in the school. I prayed about it, asking the Lord to show me my approach; and even though I had been taught how to share the Gospel, I ended up going out the “chicken door” in my mind. I went to work that day, saw her, but didn’t say anything. I just felt… “maybe I didn’t have this right.” I don’t know. So, I finished out the day and went home. That night, again, second night in a row, I was awakened at three o’clock in the morning.
And I said “Alright Lord… I’ll do this.”
“…And I’m trusting you, because I can’t figure out how I’m supposed to do this.”
That next morning, I was in school early. I’m in my office, and hear some noise coming from the front office area. So, I’m thinking it’s a custodian coming in - I would usually catch up with them in the morning, and see what’s going on; or see if there’s anything I needed to know about the building. So, I went out there to say hello to the custodian… but it wasn’t the custodian. It was the teacher. After saying good morning, and asking her why she was in so early, she said “I don’t know. I just woke up. I couldn’t sleep. And I just felt like I was supposed to come in.” I asked her if she had any time that day, like during her scheduled planning period, when we could have a chat. To which she said, “What did I do wrong?” So, she came to my office, during her planning period, scared to death – she had gone around to talk to all the other new teachers, just to see if I had met with any of them too; so, she was convinced that something was wrong.
She came into my office, and I said “What I’m going to tell you right now is crazy. I believe – and God has awakened me two nights in a row, at three o’clock in the morning – I believe, that God wants me to share some Bible passages with you.” And then I said, “You know, right now, I feel like I have accomplished everything I was supposed to do; because I’ve asked you if you would like to look at those passages. But you can say no. In fact, I think I would be pretty anxious if I were you. You know… brand new teacher, first-year, and now being asked this by this religious weirdo; maybe thinking if you don’t say yes, your job’s going to be in jeopardy.”
After I expressed all of that, I told her sincerely, “It is absolutely fine… if you’re not comfortable with this… because it’s so crazy. Honestly, if you want to go to the superintendent and express a concern about this, that’s fine with me. This is just that crazy.”
And then she said, “So you really believe that God wants me to look at some passages in the Bible.”
“With ALL my heart. Because this has never happened to me before.”
And she said, “Okay. I’d like to do that.”
I opened up my “Share Jesus” Bible, and began to have her look at each key verse; reading them aloud, and saying what she thought they meant. We got to about the third or fourth verse, and she started to cry. I asked her what was wrong, and sobbing, she shared this story with me. A while back, she was in another part of the country, living a really “way off the mark,” life of sin. She felt this man was stalking her, on this one particular night, and ran to get away. She ran up to a random house, that was in a residential area, and just pounded away on the door for help. A woman who was home answered the door, and asked what was wrong. She told her she thought someone was going to kill her, and that she was really scared. The woman invited her into her home, assuring her that nobody was going to harm her; and that she was going to be okay. After giving her a cup of tea, the two began to talk.
At this point in telling me her story, she was sobbing uncontrollably, and couldn’t even get the words out: “This is the verse that the woman showed me. She talked to me about Jesus, and I turned it down. I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. But now I know… I know that God is working today.”
And out of that, she gave her heart to Jesus.
There’s more. As it turned out, she had a forty-minute planning period, followed by a forty-minute team time. It was a double block that was set up for the teachers. So we went through the whole forty minutes, straight through to the next forty. My secretary, who was brand new to this school, was a strong Christian. When I finally finished up talking to the teacher, she came to my door, looking petrified and anxious. She said, “I tried to call you on the phone a few times, but you wouldn’t answer.” I told her, “I couldn’t answer the phone, because I was sharing Jesus with someone!” She then told me that I had forgotten about the 8th grade meeting that I scheduled! There were 350 kids, and all their teachers, in the auditorium, waiting for me to come and do a presentation that I had been doing with all the grade levels. They waited about 20 minutes and left. And the president of the union, who was an aggressive guy, was one of the teachers in that meeting; and she [my secretary] said that he had come down to my office, and really wanted to talk to me! So, I said “Alright, I’ll meet with him. But I’ll tell you this. Nothing is going to happen. God has got this so covered, that nothing is going to happen.”
He never did come back. And it all just drifted away. Nobody even talked about it. God had us protected. Plus, it gave me an opportunity to show my new secretary my heart; and also for her to see how the Lord was moving in that school.
Do you have any advice for fellow Christians sharing their faith?
Frank: 1 Corinthians 16:14 – Let all that you do be done in love. That is a very powerful verse that I am always mindful of. And this is what is so beautiful about our Disciple Maker series, and Discipleship Groups. It is not viewed as a “one-off” kind of thing, or “learn these skills and let the next group in;” but rather it is really a lifestyle. That’s what’s so important about what this church is doing. It’s teaching people what it means to be a disciple who makes disciples. It’s incredible, when you think about how the Lord actually allows us to be used; to be a conduit; to help somebody move from time into eternity; to change everything; because eternity for that person begins the moment they say yes to Jesus.
Let all you do be done in Love, and just keep your eyes open for where God’s moving. The truth is, He is moving everywhere; all the time. We don’t see it, because we’re not looking. God is moving all the time, and we get to be a part of that!