Evangelism - The Lifeblood of the Church PDF Print E-mail

 

The Founder of Evangelism Explosion

Dr. James Kennedy was one of the most listened to ministers in the world with a radio and television ministry reaching over 156 countries. The congregation he pastored, Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, had a membership of over 9,000, and Dr. Kennedy authored over 45 books. He was Founder and President of Evangelism Explosion International, the Chancellor of Knox Theological Seminar and the Founder of the Centre for Reclaiming America.

Door-to-Door

Yet, I learned that every Thursday night Dr. Kennedy went out into the streets and engaged in door-to-door, personal evangelism. So, the first time I met Dr. Kennedy, I asked him: "I hear that you are still involved, every week, in door-to-door evangelism. I am surprised that you have the time, considering your radio, T.V., writing and preaching ministry."

A Ministry of Multiplication

Dr. Kennedy responded to me with intensity: "Peter, that's the most important thing I do! All these ministries around me, I doubt that many of them will endure long after I am gone, but Evangelism Explosion, this ministry of multiplication, reaching the lost, bringing them to Christ and training them to reach others also, this is far more important than all my radio, T.V., and writing ministries."

Personal Evangelism

Perhaps you thought that there is nothing particularly important that you can do, at least nothing as important as those who have high profile ministries? However, I have found numerous prominent ministers who are convinced that the most important thing that anyone can do is personal, one-on-one evangelism.

D.L. Moody

American evangelist, D.L. Moody in the 19th Century, preached to huge crowds in America and England. However, he did not consider his day to be complete unless he had engaged in one-on-one personal evangelism. He undertook never to go to bed without having witnessed to one person that day. Preaching to huge crowds in the city hall or a sports stadium, did not qualify. There are numerous funny stories of D.L Moody wandering the streets late at night, in his dressing gown, looking for a stranger to witness to. On these occasions he had apparently been prepared for bed, only to remember that he had not yet completed his day's duties by personal, one-on-one evangelism.

Way of the Master

This has been a major emphasis of Ray Comfort's Way of the Master. When I met Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron in Los Angeles they impressed me with their enthusiasm for personal one-on-one evangelism. They have designed numerous effective conversation starters and tools for Evangelism to help Christians use the Ten Commandments as "the schoolmaster to lead us to Christ."

Yet, tragically, the vast majority of churchgoers do not engage in any evangelism at all.

Great Commission Course

I have made it a principle to incorporate Evangelism Workshops, the Way of the Master training and practical outreaches in our leadership training courses, particularly the Great Commission Course. When they register participants of our various courses are asked: "Have you ever led someone to Christ?" Most participants respond: "No."

A Highlight

Yet, at the end of our courses, most participants write in their Response Forms that the highlight of the course was the personal, one-on-one evangelism on the streets, in shopping malls, in the prisons, hospitals, townships, door-to-door evangelism, and leading someone to Christ for the first time! Many Christians are absolutely terrified of witnessing, and yet, when they are forced to try it, are amazed by how open and responsive so many people are for the Gospel of Christ.

What Have You Ever Done For Christ?

I was brought up in a secular family. We never went to church, or Sunday school. There was no prayer or Bible reading in our home, not even grace before meals. When I was 17 years old I heard the Gospel for the first time - at a cinema, which had been hired out by a local church for an Evangelistic rally. As the visiting speaker, Rev. Rex Matthie, described the sacrifices and sufferings of Christ he challenged us: "This is what Christ has done for you. What have you ever done for Him?"

Personal Experience

 

His challenge pierced my heart. I had done absolutely nothing for Christ. I had never even thanked God for His creation, for my life or for my health. I realised that I was a self-centred, lost sinner - truly deserving the condemnation of the Almighty God on the Day of Judgment. When the appeal was made at the end, I walked forward and publically committed my life to Christ. Right from the beginning of my adventure of discipleship, I could not help but be involved in Evangelism. Door-to-door Evangelism, tract distribution in the streets, ministering in old age homes, Scripture Union holiday missions, teaching in Sunday school, leading a youth group, running the book table, and Evangelism at the railway stations. When I was called up for military service I started a daily Bible study and prayer fellowship, out of which our Mission, Frontline Fellowship, ultimately developed.

Look At the Fields

Coming from a non-Christian background, I knew that there were many hurting people out there who would respond to the Good News, if we would only take the time and make the effort to share it with them.

We Are Christians!

We can learn so much from how naturally children share the Gospel. When my oldest daughter, Andrea was just 5 years old, we were in an aircraft flying to Europe. It was just after take off, when Andrea shouted loudly for the entire aircraft to hear: "We are Christians!" I put down my book, turned to Andrea and said: "Yes, we are, but why do you bring it up right now?"

Andrea answered: "The lady was asking if there are any Christians, we should let her know." I thought for a moment and answered: "I think that must have been, if there’s any questions, we should let her know!" 

My Lord Jesus Does Miracles

Just before this trip, my mother had been taking Andrea shopping at Cavendish Square. She reported that when a magician called across the mall to Andrea: "Hey, little girl, come over here - we have magic for you!" Andrea replied: "My Lord Jesus does miracles - and that's better than your magic!"

The magician stood there speechless, as did many of the shoppers passing by. "Out of mouths of babes…"

A Rock in a Box

When my youngest son, Calvin, was 5 years old, he created quite a furore at the play school by asking some of the Muslim children: "Why do your parents bow down to a rock in a box in Mecca? The Second Commandment says we shouldn't bow down to anything - that's idolatry!"

Some of the Muslim parents complained to the teacher, who complained to my wife, who informed me, and I congratulated Calvin and took him out to buy him a reward.

Carols by Candlelight

Calvin memorized the Evangelism Explosion Gospel presentation and has given it at many public meetings, conferences, seminars, camps and schools. In fact, when he was 6 years old, he was the only "speaker" at a Carols by Candlelight service. A local church was organising an end of the year Carols by Candlelight. When one lady requested the pastor to ensure that there was an evangelistic message for the many un-churched parents (who were only coming to see their Sunday School children dressed as shepherds and angels, etc.) the pastor responded that he didn't feel "called" to evangelism, found it very intimating and difficult! This lady rebuked him and said: "It's easy to evangelise, even a six year old can do it!"

Even a Six Year Old

The pastor responded: "You find me a six year old who can present the Gospel and I'll put him on the programme." That day I received a phone call from this lady who had heard that my son Calvin was quite bold in presenting the Gospel. I spoke to Calvin, reminded him that this would be an outdoor meeting with several hundred people at night, in the dark, with people holding candles and he would have to use a public address system. By God's grace, Calvin was still prepared to do it. I went over every aspect of the presentation with him numerous times beforehand, reminding him that as he stands up he will find his throat muscles tighten and the temptation will be to speak much softer than normal. Yet, he would have to project his voice nice and loud, clearly, even for the deaf old lady in the back row whose hearing aid is switched off! My father-in-law, Rev. Bill Bathman, who has been a missionary for over 55 years, mostly to the persecuted churches of Eastern Europe, also coached his grandson in various speaking techniques.

Gospel Presentation

We needn't have worried at all. When the day came, Calvin strode up on his own to the platform, stood in front of the microphone and flawlessly, word perfect, with clarity, and emphasis in all the right places, and with much passion and enthusiasm presented the Evangelism Explosion Gospel presentation to the stunned audience. Everyone sat absolutely riveted holding their candles and watching and listening to this enthusiastic 6 year old present the Gospel, call them to repentance and commitment, adding in numerous Scripture verses such as John 3:16 and John 14:6 and even led them in prayer.

Teenage Skateboarders

When my youngest daughter, Daniela, was turning 13 we invited many of her friends to a sleep over at the local Girl Guide Hall. As we were getting them settled, I noticed some teenage boys on their skateboards hovering outside. I told my wife that I was going to threaten them with severe bodily consequences if any of them dared step over the threshold onto the Girl Guide property. On my way out I was amazed to see Calvin walking towards me from those very boys. Calvin told me: "I've been talking to these boys. I told them the Ten Commandments, that they were lost and going to hell. I shared with them the Gospel presentation, and I think that some of them are ready to give their lives to the Lord. But I need your help. Can you come and pray with them please?"

Productive Ministry

I was stunned. I also felt severely rebuked of the Lord. I wasn't thinking of their souls! In fact, I had no charitable thoughts at all at the time! Yet, Calvin, just 6 years old at the time, had taken initiative and had challenged these teenagers with the Gospel. I went over, and sure enough, they were most receptive and in a teachable frame of mind. I counselled and discussed with them the implications of surrendering their lives to Christ, and had the joy of leading three of them to Christ in prayer that night.

Listening to God

Later, I told Calvin: "God really spoke to you tonight!"

Calvin responded: "But, I didn't hear Him!"

"But God did speak to you," I told him. "Just as Samuel thought that Eli had called him in the Tabernacle, so you need to remember what God's voice sounded like, so that you can recognise it next time: 'Speak Lord, for your servant listens'’ Calvin, none of the rest of us were thinking of those boys' eternal destinies, but God spoke to you and you were the one who listened to what God's Spirit was saying."

God Spoke to Me!

My father-in-law later told me that Calvin came rushing over to him exclaiming: "Granddad! Granddad! God spoke to me tonight!"

An Adventure of Discipleship

You can have that joyful excitement of being guided and blessed by God as you reach out to your neighbours, co-workers, friends and family members with the life changing Good News of God's Law and God's love. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life - no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6).

Spiritual Ammunition

Stock up with great Gospel literature. Give Gospel tracts to shop attendants, petrol attendants, passers-by and to friends and neighbours. Include carefully selected appropriate leaflets with your letters or bills. Subscribe to good Christian magazines for friends and family members. Give gifts that will bless your friends, family and co-workers - select great books, DVDs and CDs or study Bibles. Invite friends to your home to watch a suitable Christian film together.

Empower your Evangelism

Improve your Evangelistic training by completing the Evangelism Explosion and Way of the Master courses and by participating in the Great Commission Course.

The last command of Christ must be our first concern.

Dr. Peter Hammond

Frontline Fellowship
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town, South Africa
Tel: 021-689-4480
Fax: 021-685-5884
Email:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Website: www.frontline.org.za

 
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