My life has been transformed
An exciting new ministry has helped Susan Baxter overcome her natural shyness and reach out to others with the good news of the Gospel.
I’m a classic introvert. A shy, quiet person by nature, I’ve always preferred being behind the scenes rather than being centre stage. Even answering the telephone was a task I desperately tried to avoid when I was younger. Imagine my surprise, then, when God led me into a career as a medical secretary after graduating from college. Over the course of the next several years, I worked in a variety of medical offices, all of them busy and very demanding. Being forced to interact with numerous patients on a daily basis gradually helped to bring me out of my shell and I became far less timid.
“You’re so friendly and outgoing” was a comment I frequently heard from people and it always made me chuckle. If only they knew, I thought to myself.
However, no matter how others perceived me, sharing my Christian faith was a problem. Despite my desire to tell others about the most important person in my life, fear always held me back and kept me tongue-tied. I tried to justify this behaviour by telling myself that our ‘walk’ says more than our ‘talk’, but I knew deep down this was a weak and unconvincing argument. I could no longer use being shy as an excuse and felt frustrated when I clammed up every time the topic of God or religion popped up in discussions.
This wasn’t my only difficulty. I also struggled with an inferiority complex. A dysfunctional childhood and a failed marriage contributed to my negative self-image and, despite the positive reinforcement and encouragement I received from close friends and family, I never felt that I measured up to others. Eventually, in his love and mercy, God drew me into a community of believers who loved me unconditionally. He used them to minister inner healing to my wounded heart and at last I was able to see myself as a beautiful person created in the image of God.
The root issue of my inability to share my faith was also brought to light during this time of healing. As an only child growing up, I was often made fun of and teased at school. The reasons varied, but the most popular were my red hair, freckles, and glasses. Being the quiet, withdrawn child that I was, I’d internalised the teasing and ridicule, developing an intense fear of being mocked as a result. This, in turn, prevented me from saying anything that might provoke further criticism or ridicule from my peers. It was much safer to stay in the background and not draw attention to myself.
It was truly an ‘Aha!’ moment when God revealed the link between the experiences in my past and my present inability to share my faith. I was finally able to put it all into perspective, realising that I no longer needed to let my childhood hurts affect the here and now. Asking God to completely heal me from my wounded past and being willing to forgive those who had wounded me long ago were the first steps I took towards finding freedom.
Not long after this experience, the church I attend in Peterborough, Canada learned of an exciting new ministry called Treasure Hunt. I was immediately gripped by the incredible stories we heard about this unique outreach programme.
Originally founded by Kevin Dedmon (Bethel Church, Redding, California), it’s based on the principle that every person is a treasure to God. The purpose of Treasure Hunt is to find ‘lost treasures’ and tell them of his love for them.
On a monthly basis, a group of ‘treasure hunters’ meet to pray, asking God for clues which will lead them to his treasures. These clues, or words of knowledge from the Holy Spirit include the treasure’s physical location and other descriptive details about them, which are then recorded onto a treasure map. The treasure hunters then take the map and use the clues to find their treasures. Once found, the map is shown to the ‘treasure’ as an indication that God has highlighted them specifically to know his love. This opens the door for supernatural events to occur in our towns and cities.
I was fascinated by it. I knew it would push me far outside my comfort zone, but I felt I had gained a new confidence after being set free from my past. Both nervous and excited, I joined a group with two other treasure hunters and went out on my first treasure hunt. From that point on, I was completely hooked. We came back totally amazed by the encounters God had orchestrated, saying “It works, it really works!” I knew I had found an exciting new way to share my faith and, before long, my pastors appointed me as co-leader of the Treasure Hunt ministry. Yes, me!
Now, five years later, we have seen amazing results. We’ve found and prayed with scores of ‘lost treasures’, seen people healed of physical ailments, witnessed people surrendering their lives to Jesus Christ, and ministered to the homeless. The people we encounter are amazed that God sees them as his treasures, highlighting them specifically to us, usually perfect strangers. What a privilege to share his incredible love with those in our community, particularly those who feel they don’t matter to anyone, especially to God.
Being involved in this ministry has been a very positive and rewarding experience for me. I now look for opportunities every day, initiating conversations with people in order to tell them how treasured and loved they are by God. Before I leave the house each day, I pray a simple prayer: “Lord, if you’ll open a door for me to tell someone about you, I’ll gladly walk through it.” There are many days when he answers this prayer and I rejoice at the many unique opportunities he gives me.
When I look in the mirror these days, I no longer see the fearful, insecure person I used to be. I see a life totally transformed by the power of God, a confident woman who is passionate about finding lost treasures and telling them of a love beyond their wildest dreams. Gone are the days when being able to share my faith seemed so unattainable. Yes, I’m still an introvert, but it has never been more exciting or fun to be one!
+ Susan Baxter is a freelance writer and the mother of two adult daughters, based in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.
+ For more information on the Treasure Hunt ministry, look for The Ultimate Treasure Hunt: A Guide to Supernatural Evangelism through Supernatural Encounters, by Kevin Dedmon