Dr. Tina Waldrom worked in Australian churches for 27 years but was dismayed at the lack of evangelism. Most Christians she knew weren’t sharing their faith, and those who were didn’t seem effective. Tina felt called to start her own ministry that trains Australians to do personal evangelism. Recently, Tina joined The Indigitous Podcast to talk about her ministry and her philosophy about evangelism.
Tina grew up agnostic and was part of a family that only attended church on Christmas. In the 1990s, she did a lot of traveling. In hindsight, Tina believes it was a time of searching for something missing in her life, but at the time, she was looking for a good time. While partying in the Greek Islands, she met an American who was a Christian. Although she didn’t believe in God, she was significantly impacted by how he shared and lived out his faith. “The way he lived his life and the way he spoke about Jesus got my attention,” Tina says.
She visited California to spend time with him because she was drawn to something different about him. Her friend wasn’t a vocational missionary; he was a regular businessman with no formal evangelism training, but God was able to use him. “It was so startling how he lived. I had never met anybody so kind, so contrary to the life I was living at the time,” Tina says. God moved Tina’s heart through his influence, and she came to know Jesus in California.
Called to God’s mission
After six months in the United States, Tina returned to Australia but didn’t want to resume her career as a primary school teacher. She felt called to God’s mission. “I was so shocked that He was real, and it was such a good experience,” Tina says. “I just want the whole of Australia to know this Jesus.”
Tina went to a Bible college and started working for a local church. For 27 years, she worked for two different churches, primarily helping people with evangelism. But four years ago, she felt called to leave and start her own ministry, Evangelism in Australia.
Evangelism in Australia exists to train and equip believers and churches for evangelism. One of the things her ministry does is correct evangelism techniques that she finds unhelpful in Australia and teach ways that work better.
One essential part of Tina’s ministry is a training course called On Mission With God. “We lay a basis of personal evangelism that I never knew as a young Christian,” she says. “We built a course around that and the tools that can help people easily share their faith.”
As a young Christian, Tina was often frustrated by evangelism. She went out and talked about Jesus as often as possible, often with total strangers, but didn’t see a lot of fruit. Today, she often hears from Christians that evangelism is difficult. “Why is it difficult? Maybe we need to put some new teaching blocks in there so people feel relaxed, so they feel like, ‘I can do this,’” she says.
The On Mission With God evangelism course is designed to help people feel relaxed so they can be a personal witness within their comfort zone. “It helps people to be on mission with God in easy and natural ways,” she says.
Easy and natural are two key words that Tina stresses. To her, evangelism should be as natural as any other conversation you have. For those who have the right mindsets, she believes it can be. “If God thinks that every person can make disciples, then it’s gotta be doable for everybody,” she says.
According to Tina, when most people think of evangelism, they think it means that in a particular conversation, they have to go through all of the Four Spiritual Laws, or they have to talk about the death and resurrection of Jesus. While those are important, “that’s not the full story,” she says.
Tina didn’t become interested in Jesus because of apologetics or a gospel presentation. She was interested because of the way her friend lived his life. In Australian culture, people don’t want to be told that you know something they don’t. It’s related to the egalitarian culture and the Tall Poppy Syndrome that resents the achievements of others.
As her website puts it: “Australians on their best day do not want Christianity forced upon them. First, they want to see it working in someone’s life and they want to know it’s for real. Someone showing up uninvited on their doorstep to share Christ is often not welcomed and research supports a more friendly approach to outreach. Australians are open to spiritual conversations and given the right environments and circumstances are willing to explore how faith can make a difference in their life.”
If Christianity is a personal relationship with Jesus, then personal evangelism shouldn’t be a presentation. Instead, it should be a relationship. “The Lord has always spoken to me very personally, very conversationally,” Tina says. “I think we have to take that approach. I think we have to be on a journey with people if we’re going to make disciples.”
Recently, Tina talked to someone who was a student of the On Mission With God course. One day at the beach, he started a conversation with someone, talked about his faith, and invited the new friend to his church. “He said he never would have approached this person had he not discovered some simple keys,” Tina says. “He said, ‘I found it so easy, so freeing.’”
In addition to doing personal evangelism face to face, Tina thinks it’s important to represent Jesus and share your faith in digital spaces. The COVID pandemic showed how effective communication and evangelism through social media and online channels can be, and that shouldn’t be ignored just because businesses and schools are open again. “If you want to be involved in personal witness, you should consider how that can look online,” she says.
Other evangelism resources
In addition to the On Mission With God course, Evangelism in Australia offers coaching and consulting. Shortly before the pandemic hit, Tina started a new podcast designed to help equip every believer to share their faith. Initially, the idea was to interview people in person, but after one episode in that format, the pandemic hit, and since then, the show has been recorded from a distance.
In the weekly podcasts, Tina interviews people with different experiences and perspectives about evangelism. “I’ve been so blessed to have interviewed some extraordinary people,” Tina says. “We’re trying to extract learnings from people so that all … followers of Jesus can be better at sharing our faith.”
One challenge that Tina has for all Christians is to commit each day to being on mission with God. “This is something I challenge myself with, and that is to get up each day and try to join God, who is already on mission,” she says. “Every day, I say, ‘By the grace of God, Lord, help me be on mission with You today. Open my eyes and open my ears.’”
Tina also recommends taking time each day for reflection, even just a few minutes. “That’s where the powerful learning is for each of us,” she says. “What can I learn from my engagement with this person who didn’t know Jesus or my lack of engagement that day? The Holy Spirit is a great teacher.”
Reflection time can help you grow in your relationship with God and your comfort and skill as an evangelist. “If I can learn something at the end of each day and bring those learnings into the next week, I think He can make us fishers of men and women,” Tina says.