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Sunday, May 01, 2016
Evangelizing No More - Eleanor Shepherd
As Glen and
I were driving along in the car, we were discussing a workshop that I will be
facilitating soon on my book, More
Questions than Answers, Sharing Faith by Listening. Writing the book taught
me some important principles about evangelism. Here are some of my discoveries.
God is at work in a person’s life
long before we come along, drawing them into an awareness of their desire for
Him. We need discernment to probe this so we can cooperate with His purposes.
For example, if someone is struggling with fear, we can provide a secure
environment to examine the reasons for their fears. With their self-discovery,
we may have occasion to assure them God knows their fears and will not abandon
them to their enslavement.
Perhaps, our friend struggles
with loneliness. While we can try to be available to them, we can assure them
that when we are not nearby, they are never completely alone. God is always as
near as a prayer. They can be confident that He will send those they need to be
with them, when they need them. Whatever we face, we need never face it alone
or be overwhelmed by fear. The Lord has promised His presence, when we reach
out to Him in our need.
Another discovery about
evangelism is that it is not a separate exercise divorced from the rest of our
lives. It is a part of the journey. From the time that we are born God is ready
to welcome us into His forever family. For some of us it takes a long time on
the road before we finally really hear and respond to His invitation. Along the
way, the Lord continues to send people who provide opportunities that encourage
us to move closer to Him. Someone takes the time to listen to our real
frustrations about the way our life is going and the way our dreams are not
being fulfilled. Knowing they hear us creates an opportunity to face ourselves,
learn more about who we are and to gain a better understanding of our real
On this journey, when a person
comes to faith, rarely is it a result of a single conversation with a single
individual. The Body of Christ is composed of many members. Usually several of
them play a role in helping us respond to God’s call to open our hearts to Him.
Someone may casually share some key truth that has transformed his or her life,
just on the way by, and that thought launches us on our search for truth.
Another may recount the transformation that has taken place in their own life,
as they have tentatively begun to put their trust in God. That makes it seem
feasible for us to do so. Someone else might offer evidence of an answer to
prayer or share a Scripture that has been meaningful to them. They authenticate
the spiritual disciplines. Another friend may point to a glorious sunset or
majestic peak and recognize these as gifts from a Creative Father.
When I was
younger, I had the impression that each of us, as individual Christians was
responsible for bringing a number of people to faith, on our own. As I have
grown in my faith, I discovered my importance was far less than I imagined.
What really counts is what God does in bringing people to faith. He allows us
to play small parts in the cosmic drama that unfolds in a person’s life as they
come into a relationship with the Eternal One. Knowing all He does, and my
small role in His life-giving project, effectively remove all the pressure from
me and enable me to be genuine in my interactions with others. There is no need
for me to go around evangelizing.