I have learned over the years that Evangelism is Relational. It begins with your relationship with Jesus Christ. It spreads within the circle of relationships you have with family, co-workers, neighbors, and others that the Lord has brought into your lives. Evangelism begins not with talking to others about Jesus but by talking with Jesus about others.
Over 35+ years of pastoral ministry, I have learned that very few believers pray for the lost by name. A recent Lifeway study surveyed what people typically request when they pray. The study revealed that among people who pray, more people prayed to win the lottery than praying for others who have no faith. Not only do few believers pray for the salvation of others, but even fewer are sharing the gospel with others. Billy Graham once said that 90% of the Church today has never shared the gospel with someone else.
I now serve full-time with Go & Tell Ministries, which seeks to equip the Church to share the gospel using practical and straightforward evangelism and discipleship tools. One of those tools is the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop. It is a 3-hour workshop that teaches your Church to share their faith with others.
I taught the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop at an RCA Church in Detroit last month. Their group was very engaged with the seminar and was excited to begin to pray for the salvation of others. I left the weekend very encouraged with their response, and I was praying for the Lord to raise workers for the harvest field from our time together.
Last week I received a text from the pastor of the Church in Detroit. He said: "Hey Jim, we have a celebration testimony from your Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop. Talina attended the workshop, and she was able to share Jesus in the way you taught. She called me and was so excited to share that her Uncle decided to repent of his sins and profess faith in Jesus. There is more to her testimony that makes it so amazing, and I think you would like to hear from her."
I was excited to hear from the pastor, and I immediately texted Talina. I think she was even more excited to share the story with me because she responded soon after. This is Talina's testimonial:
"Hi Jim. First, thank you so much for being at Grace Church that day. My Uncle Tim lost his son two weeks ago. He was missing for over a year. He had got on drugs and finally walked out one day and never heard another word. Timmy (my cousin) was 32-years-old. Two weeks ago, my Uncle got the call no parent ever wants. They found his skeletal remains in an attic in Detroit. He had been there about a year. Of course, my Aunt Jane and Tim were beyond words. I went to them and gave them my condolences. I am close to all of them. At first, it wasn't easy being there.
My Uncle didn't believe in God. How could God do something or allow something like this to happen? He didn't want to hear any God stuff, so I would go over and sit, often feeling like I was taking a verbal assault for believing. But that was okay. I just listened and prayed for them. We had a quiet dinner last week when his remains came home cremated. There was not much said at the dinner table that night. But my Uncle said something that gave me hope. He said that he hoped he would see Timmy again.
So I have been going over every few days, just listening to them and speaking when needed (and crying when I can't help it).
This past Monday night, I went over, and my Uncle asked me to come out to the garage; he wanted to talk to me. So out I went. He asked me if I thought he'd see Timmy again. He told me that he couldn't imagine seeing him again.
I told him my beliefs in God. And how that gave me peace in anything that happens. I told him it wasn't God who took His son and let all these terrible things happen in the world. It goes back from the fall of man and sin. So, he started crying and asked me what I was going to do. I asked if I could pray with him. Shockingly, he said yes. I held his hand, and we prayed.
Afterward, I asked him: "Uncle Tim, have you ever lied?" He said, yeah. I then asked him: "Have you ever stolen anything?" He giggled and said, well yeah. I wondered, "Have you ever committed adultery (and Jesus said lust is adultery in the Sermon of the Mount)?" He said, okay, Talina, yes, yes, I'm a sinner. I said, "Okay, so if you had to stand before God and He asked if you were to go to hell or heaven, what would you say?"
He started crying and said, well, I believe I have sinned against God, I would go to hell. But if I believe what you are saying, then I'd be saved. I asked him, "And why would you go to heaven?" He sat for a minute and said God sent Jesus to die for our sins. He stopped and said, GOD SENT HIS SON TO DIE FOR ME? I said exactly. He said Talina, I get it, and I believe it!
It was absolutely beautiful. I never felt or seen anything like it. If I died today, I would feel complete. I've never witnessed someone believe in Jesus and have hope like that for the first time. The only thing I could compare it with would be watching a child be born."
After I read her text, I was rejoicing in Tim's salvation like the angels in heaven (Luke 15:7, 10), and I was rejoicing in Talina's walk with Jesus as she lovingly and boldly shared the gospel with her Uncle Tim. I then shared with Talina 2 Corinthians 5:17-20:
"Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are, therefore, Christ's ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to God."
I praised the Lord for Talina's faithfulness in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with her Uncle Tim, and I prayed that the Lord would speak to the Church to fulfill their role as Ambassadors for Jesus Christ by proclaiming Jesus to a dying and lost world.
Steve Van Zanen (CRC Resonate, Europe Regional Mission Leader) said this about the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop: "Many are concerned about the future of Christianity in America and with good reason. The most important cure for what ails the Church is a renewed appreciation for the heart of the Gospel message and the ability to communicate that to others. The kind of evangelism training offered by Go & Tell will not only enable people to witness to Jesus Christ effectively, but it will also deepen the faith of those trained and encourage them to their walk of faith." (Note: The CRC Synod 2018 endorsed the Go & Tell Evangelism Workshop as one of their recommended resources and tools for evangelism and Church planting.)
I heard this truth long ago: "As one person, I cannot change the whole world, but I can change the whole world for one person."
I pray that the Lord will raise workers (beginning with you) for the harvest field through Go & Tell Ministries.