Many Bible scholars name her as the first evangelist. The very first person, in all of Scripture’s record, who practiced this “discipline” that intimidates me so.
And yet she makes it look so simple, so natural, and very un-intimidating.
She had met Christ at a well. He easily demolished strict ethnic and gender barriers with words of kindness and truth, sending those walls of racism and sexism crashing down. He spoke convicting and perhaps painful truth to her about her life. He offered her living water — deep satisfaction for her soul. And he revealed to her that he was the promised Messiah.
What she did next was so, so simple. She went into town — the community that likely judged and shunned her — and “said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?'”
They listened. Something about her voice, her demeanor, her sincerity drew them. And they began to seek him out.
John tell us that “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:1-42).
Scripture does not record her name, but in Eastern Orthodox church history and tradition she is called “St. Photini.” It is a name that speaks of light.
A photon is the basic unit of light. Hard for me to imagine — but I picture it as a dust mote in a sunbeam. A tiny speck of powerful brilliance, containing the very essence of light itself. Tiny, but shining forth. So miniscule, yet with the power to illuminate the darkness.
This is the image of evangelism I’ve been ruminating on. This simple woman with a checkered past and a life probably full of emotional confusion, simply and vibrantly told the truth about her interaction with Christ. She was a small and “insignificant” person in her community, but she did what was only natural. She invited others, “Come and see!” She, like a photon, was a single unit of light. She shone with the brilliance of Christ and it illuminated others’ hearts.
Let us, too, be people who “shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15)