One thing I have been thinking about lately, is our understanding of evangelism. We tend to think of it as some kind of separate activity in our lives, kind of like an extra-curricula activity. We know it is important and we really don't want people to have to be under God's judgment on That Day. But there seems to be a missing component, at least that is the way it seems to me.
When I came to Christ, God used many different means to reach me. One of the most effective ways was by placing me in front of a girl in my class, whose last name had the same first two letters as mine did. God was already preparing my heart to come to know Him, and I had rebelled against Him, and wanted to do my own thing. But by this time in my life, I was ready to hear what the Gospel really was.
The girl who sat behind me told me things I had never heard or imagined. She talked about the Lord as if He were a person right in the same room as we were. She didn't go through the Romans Road with me. She didn't take me through the 4 Spiritual Laws. She just talked about the greatness of God and her love for Him. It just seemed natural.
I am grateful for all the evangelism courses I have been through and learned from. But I wonder how much is necessary if you have the gist of what the Gospel means. I think the courses and books have been helpful, but I also know that if we are not walking with the Lord, they just become a set of rules that we are obligated to give out to others so they won't go to hell.
I wrote all that to say that, first of all, I think NYC would be a great place to do evangelism. I wish I could have met every person I saw, and I saw lots and lots and lots of people there. Many foreigners were there as well. My ancestors came into NYC. I wonder if anyone ever shared the Gospel with them? I wonder if perhaps they knew the Lord?
Well, it was easy to lay a tract in each restroom I visited, for there were many. But what could I say about God to others that would help me to have an open door to communicate the Gospel?
We had a tour guide, and a tour driver for two days. We loved our tour guide. She was very personable and had a good sense of humor. She seemed to have some kind of spiritual thinking, but it didn't seem like the Gospel was there. At one point, I was able to explain some things about the book, "The Cross and the Switchblade" (David Wilkerson). Whenever I tell the stories from this book, people seem intrigued. I guess there is so much God did, and I could pull a million stories out from this one book, and make several spiritual applications as well. As I was explaining what God was doing, the tour guide wrote down the name of the book. I thought that was pretty cool.
At the end of the first day, the tour guide got a sudden headache. She explained a little bit about it. The thought came to my mind that I could pray for her. How would she react? I had a feeling that she would have been fine with it. When we got to our hotel and got out of the car, I asked if I could pray for her headache, to which she replied that I could. We gathered and prayed a little prayer for that.
Nothing was said the next day, and we had a big day planned. We went to all kinds of places and then the day was over, as far as our touring would be concerned. We were brought back to the hotel and we said our good-byes to the driver and the tour guide. She seemed affected by our time together and getting to know us for those two days. I gave her my email address and would hope that she would write to me sometime.
I got the email today, and it was a very nice one. She enjoyed the time we had together and was sorry she could not have written sooner. At the end, she told me that the prayer I prayed worked.
I have not gotten yet to communicate the Gospel to her, but will keep in touch with her and I will trust God for an open door to minister the Gospel to her.
Please pray for this lady. Pray for her heart to be open to the Gospel and pray that she will have eyes to see God with.
You might be asking, what does this have to do with what I wrote about at the top of this article? What I have learned is, and you probably have heard this many times, that we are not giving people a formula to get to heaven with. Salvation is not a formula for us to follow so we can skip hell. Salvation is a person, and lost people need to meet this Person. We can know the Bible inside and out, and we should be that familiar with the Scriptures, but I think we neglect the relationship aspect of our salvation. We are not sharing the Gospel with people because our relationship with God is growing and God is becoming more real to us. My friend, the girl who sat behind me in class, did not give me a formula to follow in order for me to have what she has. She was just exuberant about God being in her and with her. She was in awe of who God is. I don't remember her asking me too many questions, but one of them was, 'Don't you just love Him?' At first, it seemed strange because I never looked at God that way. I looked at God as a distant being and if we were going to reach Him, we would have to know the formula, whatever that was about.
I think we need to communicate God as a God who is personal, and we need to be communicating Bible truths about Him, bringing in His character. Then when we talk about the Gospel with the people we have been sharing with already, it will make more sense to them.
One more word: I personally think most Christians are Pelagian, meaning that we first of all, don't see our sin as a heart issue. We see sin as a choice issue. Second, we have this same expectation out of others. We think they need to pull up their bootstraps and get right with God in order to be saved. Pelagians tend to think of God as distant, and if they make the wrong move, they will be under God's judgment. What I fear most, is that the whole concept of having a relationship with God is very foreign to many Christians today. The reason why is twofold; many do not think they are as sinful as they are, and they have no understanding of God's mercy and grace. They do not understand the power of the Cross, not only to cleanse us from sin, but also to break the bonds of the yoke of sin over us.
This is why I believe many go about preaching/sharing/evangelizing with a formula mentality. Sure, the lost person needs to understand that he or she has sinned seriously before a holy God. But we have to remember that salvation is God's word. We do the loving, sowing, and praying. God does the work in the heart.
|Lots of people in NYC. A great place to do|
|Every one of those people needs to hear the Gospel. Who|
will reach them?