Saturday, April 18, 2009

Evangelism on the Front Lines- Stories in witnessing

Preaching the gospel to the lost is important. "How will they hear without a preacher?" I am going to start telling the story of my evangelism. Through my life and what I record I hope to challenge all of you who don't evangelize to get out there and do it, and also I hope to give courage to the fainthearted- remember the words of the Apostle Paul, "God has not given us a spirit of fear., but of power, love, and self control." I will include conversations I have had, arguments and apologetics, demonic oppositions I have faced, encouragement you and I may find from the most unlikely places, and hopefully joyous hope in the power of the gospel to change lives (as it has with all those who are truly born again).
Not too long ago, my father suggested I write a book about my witnessing encounters. So, here is where I am starting. I am posting this title once or twice a week depending on the encounters I have. In about 10 years time maybe I will draw on the best of and put something together for encouragement and all the other reasons I listed above.
I want to say a few things in starting:
  • All biblical evangelism is good. Christ sent out the Apostles with the Charge, "Go preach the gospel," Mark 16. The sad thing is the fact that so few Christians obey this command. Most Christians I know will say things like, "you know, there is a gift of evangelism and I just don't have that," or "it is good to see someone young like yourself with so much zeal, pray that as you grow older you will keep it up," or "I don't believe in that kind of evangelism." With all of these well meaning Christians convinced that they don't have to preach the gospel to the lost I find it rather compelling to do whatever I can to encourage evangelism to be done.
  • I may be labeled as prideful or arrogant in starting something like this, that is OK I am willing to be thought a fool for the sake of Christ.
  • Evangelism is not about seeing people converted as much as it is about being faithful to honor Christ and tell others about him. To the degree the gospel is real to you, you in turn will tell it to others.
  • It isn't a matter of waiting to "sense" God's leading in any conversation, but rather obey Him and tell the gospel. You don't have to wait for some supernatural enlightenment to open and proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.
  • Many people say, "I don't know enough." The truth is, if you are born again you know all there is to know to evangelize.
  • I often hear people say, after they are done trying to lead someone through the gospel, "man I sure messed that one up!" My answer is always, you can never mess it up, God is using you. If you are preaching the gospel it is good and God will use it.

So with those thoughts...lets get into some of my encounters-

Bruce-

Bruce was a self proclaimed homosexual who was gnostic to the core. He was open to "truth" but was full of skepticism. He wanted to argue and put on a tough guy show for his friends. (He is the leader of a small group that was out that night.) After taking him through the gospel he began to scoff. It wasn't until we began to reason with Him in areas which were a little more close to home for him that we saw the conviction. (You can see when conviction comes on a person). He had many sophisticated arguments and we met them head on. We used the "proof of prophecy" to show the sufficiency of Christ's fulfilling of the Scriptures, we gave our testimonies. It was at that point that he said, "I don't know, maybe you are telling me the truth, but I could never be sure God was going to come and meet me or reveal anything to me," well praise be to God for my good brother in the Lord, who by the way is a Gideon, he said-"Bruce, God is meeting you and He is revealing Himself to you, right now at this very moment, through us."

(Small pause here- this was one of those times when God blessed me with new understanding and a great awareness into what I called "a window into eternity." It was at that moment in my own mind, as though all time stops, and you go outside of yourself and you see Bruce on that day when He gives a reckoning to God of all his life. Bruce can never say to God I never heard the gospel. There on that street corner in the cold month of February of 2009 Bruce was confronted with the gospel. It went forth and the seed fell on the ground of Bruce's heart.)

So what did Bruce do? He was convicted, he went from scoffing to thanking us. He seemed a little more stirred by our conversation than one might have expected. I learned here, don't give up just because they begin to scoff, and don't be put off by a group of guys who act like they want to beat you up at first. I don't know if Bruce is born again, but he has heard the gospel.

Mark-

Mark was a young man that God brought to me. I was at a gas station filling up one night after church on a Wednesday. I had two of my children with me. I came out of the station and a truck pulled up. Out comes this guy with his girlfriend. She steps inside and he walks over to me and says, "Hey man, I am broke and out of money, and we need to get to Springfield, can you give me some cash?" I stood there for a second or two a bit puzzled by the whole ordeal. I said to him, "wait here, I will be right back." I went over to my truck and looked around for some tracts, I had none with me!!! None! So, I improvised. I took eight dollars and some change over to him and said, "hey I have this money to give you, but before I do, you have to listen to me. What I have to say is the whole reason you came here tonight. You thought you were coming to me for money, but God sent you to me so I could tell you the gospel. Can I talk for a few minutes?" He said "sure." So beginning with the Law I worked all the way through the gospel. He admitted to being a liar, and a pagan. As I continued on it his eyes were fixed on me and it seemed as though he was shocked. I mean he looked like he was blown away by this. After I was done I asked him if he understood what I said, he made mention to the fact that he had never heard this in all his life. His question was, "why have I never heard this before?" I told him I didn't know but that didn't matter anymore because now he had. I finished by saying, "I don't have alot of money to give you, but what I do have I will give you. You have been given the truth tonight Mark, what you do with it now is up to you. I sure hope you consider what I have told you. I will probably never see you again in this life, but Lord willing I will see you in heaven some day." I gave him the money and told him to tell his girlfriend everything I had said to him. My prayer that night was that the Spirit of God would save their souls as they drove and talked about the gospel.

Isn't God good? I was struck with the reality that we truly are a peculiar people, called out to be separate from the world. When the world sees that lamp they give glory to the Father.

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