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On Wednesday I celebrated my 26th born again day – the day I became a Christian.

I was invited to youth by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

I want to take Evangelism out of the too hard basket and help us see that this is something we can do in our everyday real lives, with everyday real people, being our everyday real selves.

It is not something for just special super spiritual people. It is not just something for pastors.  It is not even something just for extroverts.

It is the on earth mission that Jesus has given every single one of us if we are Christians.

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In 1985 Clarence Duncan arrived in Africa as missionary to the solidly Muslim people called the Yao who live mainly in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Malawi. When he settled in his village, he called for a meeting with the elders. After the pleasantries the chief asked him his name. Clarence replied, “Mr. Clarence.”

The council looked at each other for a moment and then the chief asked, “Why are you here?”

Again Clarence simply said, “I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi (Jesus the Messiah).”

A couple months later, when the chief decided he could trust Clarence, he said, “Do you know why we allowed you to stay?”

Clarence said, “I never thought about it.”

“Twenty-one years ago a very old Yao man came to our village and called for a meeting as you did. When we asked him his name, this Yao man said, ‘Mr. Clarence’—which isn’t an African name at all! When we asked him why he came, he said, ‘I want to tell your people about Isa Al Mahsi.’ These were your very words. Twenty-one years ago Mr. Clarence led four of our villagers to follow Jesus. So we ran them out of the village. And we killed Mr. Clarence. The reason we allowed you to stay was we were afraid.”

That was 1985. Two years ago on a January morning 24 Muslim elders approached Clarence Duncan’s house. After a meal the leader sat in the middle of the room and said that they had come to ask questions about Christianity. Clarence said fine but that he would only answer them by reading from the Bible so they would know he did not invent the answers. So he gave each of them a Bible in the trade language. The first question was, “Why do you Christians say that there are three gods?”

Clarence said the answer was found in Deuteronomy 6:4 and gave them the page: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God. The Lord is one!” And he mentioned that Isa (Jesus) said this very thing in Mark 12:29.

The questioning went on till five in the afternoon. When all had left, the leader, Sheik Abu Bakr, stayed and asked if he could see Clarence in a week.

When they met Abu asked if Clarence knew why they came to see him last week. Clarence said he assumed it was to ask questions. But Abu said, “No, it was because the Christian church is growing so fast we knew we had to kill you. We had consulted for three days and prepared our magic. You were to be struck dumb when we asked questions, then fall on the ground paralyzed and then die. But when you kept talking, and even stood up and moved around, we knew you had a stronger Spirit and gave up.”

Then Abu said, “I want to become a Christian.” And he told an amazing story.

“When I was a teenager, in our village we were not Muslim people and we were not Christian. We were Achewa people with our own religion. Behind our village was a hill where I would often go to pray.

“One day I was on that hill praying. Suddenly all around me was a blinding light. Out of this light I saw a big hand coming toward me holding an open book. I looked at the book and saw writing on the page. A Voice told me to read. I protested that I could not read, never having been to school. The Voice again told me to read. So I did. And suddenly the book and the hand disappeared.

“I ran back to my village and all the people were looking for me, thinking I had died on that hill! They asked about a fire they had seen up there. When I told them the story, they laughed at me saying, You can’t read!

“Someone got a book and I began to read! Then people came from all around to find out more about what happened and asked questions. The Muslim authorities found out about me and I was trained in the ways of Islam. Soon all or our village became Muslim. For 15 years I was the greatest debater against the Christians.”

He paused and then said, “You remember when I asked you the first question about why Christians believe in three gods? Your answer was Deuteronomy chapter 6, verse 4.”

“That’s right,” Clarence said.

Sheik Abu Bakr looked Clarence Duncan in the eye and said, “That was the same passage that this Voice on the mountain showed me. At that moment I knew that the God you were talking about was the True God!”

“Then why did you keep asking me all those questions the whole day?”

“Because,” he smiled, “I wanted all these Muslim leaders to know what the Christians believe and I wanted them to hear it from you. The whole day I pretended unbelief so that I could ask more questions. Now I want to become a Christian.”

 

from https://www.desiringgod.org/messages/the-leading-of-the-lord-in-personal-evangelism

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Francis of Assai said “Preach the Gospel at all times, if necessary, use words.”  Our whole lives are opportunities to demonstrate God and His power to save and transform.  But there are times when WORDS are necessary to communicate the message of salvation.  People usually don’t learn about the Good News by osmosis!

As Christians everyday we encounter people who may need to know the Good News about God.  How do we go from “ordinary” conversation to talking about God?

And how do we go and talk to complete strangers about God?

People are hungry for encounter with the real God.  Within each person is a desire for forgiveness and innocence.   Salvation isn’t an optional extra for life, it is a necessary essential, just as a parachute is a necessary essential for people about to jump out of a plane.  As saved people we are called to tell others about the wonderful kindness and eternal rescue that we have experienced.  God didn’t give the job to the angels but He gave it those who live the Gospel to tell the Gospel.

“Lost people matter to God, and so they must matter to us.” Keith Wright

We are called and empowered by the power of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us to GO but sometimes taking that first step can be the hardest obstacle to get over.

Here are a few simple things that we can do or know that can set us up for successful conversations about God with strangers.

Know what The Message is.

We don’t need to be Bible scholars, able to exegesis about the greater meaning of the third toe on the beasts left foot, but I think it is important to know your Bible – for personal reasons, you’re learning not just facts about God, but you are learning His promises and guidance for your own life, but also so that you have some answers to peoples questions.

1 Peter 3:15 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have

Some people have religious backgrounds, others have studied philosophy and in this postmodern age everyone has an opinion on spirituality but the Word of God reveals to us WHO God really is and WHAT He has really done.   The answers found in the Bible will challenge and convict and get all the way in because they are just not ordinary words but contain power from God.

Know WHAT the Gospel is.  What did Jesus do and why?  Prepare yourself to answer people’s questions.

And perhaps more importantly – believe it.  Know it and believe it.

Know who YOU are, and what your style is.

Really?  Yes really.  In a way we’re all tailor-made with keys and strategies that help communicate the Gospel.   I’m not talking about just personality and being an extravert, but about a way of connecting with people and communicating the Gospel.

For myself, if I am out talking to strangers along Eastern Beach I often start with the question “Are you interested in God?”  This was a question and strategy that God gave me one morning while I was praying that I have found very effective.  Most people ARE interested in spiritual things!

I asked some of my evangelistically wired friends what they do when talking to pre Christians, if they had a personal style in evangelism.  One friend replied that he likes to use creation and science to open peoples eyes to the reality of God.  Another likes to pray and introduce people to God through Holy Spirit encounter.  Ray Comfort, international evangelist, uses the 10 commandments and tracts to communicate the need for a Saviour.

Discover your own personal style and then flow with that.

Recognize conversation TRANSITIONS

This is especially important in everyday interactions and conversations with friends, workmates etc, but can also play an important part in talking to complete strangers in an evangelism context.   Learn to recognize the moments in a conversation where you can talk about God, or flow the conversation in another direction.   Learn how to ask open questions about what they believe and then reply with your own testimony.  It takes practice to learn how to do this, and often in hindsight you can more clearly identify something that could have springboarded into talking about God.

It’s a PROCESS

Revival is about as much of a miracle as a crop of wheat. If you don’t plow, sow, water and reap you will never see a revival. If you plant the seed God has given you and pray over the place where you live and partner with the Holy Spirit you will watch God move in your region this year.  Andrew Robertson

Remember – our job is to plant seeds and water seeds others have planted – it is God who grows the plant!  Every conversation you have is doing something!   Each time you talk to someone God is doing something.  He is doing a hidden work in their hearts to draw them to Himself.

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Just do it!  Just start.  Fight the fear and just do it.  When the opportunity arises to go to the beach with someone to invite people to church go along and join in.  Go and watch someone in action.   Some people are wired to love evangelism and talking to strangers, but most people aren’t.  There is no out clause on the Great Commission though.  It’s totally fine to feel nervous about stepping out.  But don’t let that restrict you.  Overcome the fear.   It’s easier than you expect.

Above all else, it goes almost without saying, be in love with Jesus and know His everlasting love for you.  Be always falling more in love with Him and be transformed by His power.  This will be communicated, without words, to those you talk to and are with each day.

Evangelism is simply sharing what you’ve been shown. Simple. Let’s not complicate it.  We are called to be witnesses and ambassadors of the Good News of salvation, found only in Jesus Christ.  Let’s get out there and do it – there is a whole world ready to hear!

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Would you like to come to church with me sometime?”

Few Christians would disagree with the principle of this question. We might even agree that inviting people to church is a key part of evangelism and central to the mission of any church body. And get this, people actually want to be invited to church, too: 9 out of 10 unchurched people say they would come to church if invited, according to researcher Thom Rainer.

The only problem is, we rarely ask the question.

This next stat is a tough pill to swallow: about 1 in 5 of us churchgoers invites anybody to church in the course of a year, per Rainer. We might have someone who could be totally up for it right in front of us, practically beckoning us to invite them, and instead we hesitate and hem and haw and sometimes don’t even get the words out of our mouths.

We need to:

  1. PRAY YOU’D HAVE GOD’S HEART FOR THE LOST
  2. PRAY FOR COURAGE
  3. PRAY FOR SPECIFIC PEOPLE
  4. REMEMBER YOUR OWN CALLING
  5. REMEMBER THE GOSPEL
  6. TRUST IN THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL TO SAVE
  7. KNOW THAT SHARING THE HOPE OF ETERNITY IS LOVING
  8. KNOW THAT IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU

Then we need to JUST DO IT.

Let’s get our brave on and do it afraid and see the awesome things that God will do through us as we step out.

 

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How many of you went to church or youth group the first time because someone invited you?

On Thursday night our guest speaker at church, Georgian Banov shared about how he became a Christian – he kept on being invited round to peoples houses for meals and they would talk to him about Jesus and after about 2 months he said yes to going along to church with them.

My own story is that I was invited to church by a friend in class who had never talked to me about God or youth group or anything before, she just turned to me and said do you wanna come to youth group.   I said yes.  Because God had been at work in my life way before then to draw me to him.

But sometimes we forget this.  We forget the power of invitation.  We forget about how God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things.  We forget that God uses us to share the gospel and to invite people to church.

We get busy with life and family and work and doing, and we forget that Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and save the lost.  His priority mission was one of rescue.

It’s great to come to church and get blessed and encouraged and to connect and to be inspired…. But one of the most important functions and designs of the church is to reach out to those who are lost, hurting, broken.   This is OUR mission.

As the children of God we are His representatives here on earth.  We are called to seek and save the lost – just as Jesus did.

Now sometimes we can put this into the too hard basket, or we think it’s something that only the evangelists can do, or the pastors, or we don’t quite know what to say or how to do it.

The great thing is that God gives us all the tools to step out – because He has given us the Holy Spirit which empowers us to be His witness.  All we need to do is say YES to be used by God and to then step out and do it!

This week, think about who you can invite to church.  Think about who you can reach out to…. then just do it!

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The other week I had a dream I knew was from God.  Last night I shared about it with my youth at HKC as they were main characters in it.

In my dream a whole bunch of us were in a massive hotel.  It had many floors and elevators and stairs.  We were in a room with huge glass windows and glass French doors that showed us the rest of the hotel.  It had a library and big tv and comfy sofas.  While we were hanging out the hotel hallways started to fill with people.  Some were faces I knew and some were strangers.  Then there was a noise.  We looked out the windows to the outside and into the hallways and the hotel was been taken over by daleks.

The Daleks were going round saying EXTERMINATE EXTERMINATE and zapping people.  We moved the couches and shelves over the doors and barricaded ourselves in the big safe room.  But we realized that the people in the halls were in danger and at opportune moments we would pull the couches back and then rush into the halls warning people and getting them to come into the big safe room with us.  In the big room they could read and rest or watch a movie.  More and more people joined us and then more and more people were going into the hallways and up the stairs and rescuing people.

RESCUED PEOPLE RESCUE PEOPLE

 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin,[e] so that we could be made right with God through Christ. 2 Cor 5:19-21

Being a rescuer starts from the inside out.  It starts with making rescuing a priority.  It starts with aligning our heart and goals and identity with His heart, His goals and His identity.

It starts with knowing that our mission is to know God and make Him known, that “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost” Luke 19:10.  Like really knowing.

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FirstAid

Earlier this month our Kids church pastor and I did a first aid course.  After doing the course we feel empowered and ready to save lives and leap buildings in a single bound.  We did the CPR training – 30 to 2 no matter who, to the beat of staying alive, which sounds much better than to the beat of another one bites the dust.  We bandaged head wounds, knife wounds and a range of broken bones and amputations.   I only killed Jen once in our practice scenarios.  Of course the key to first aid is blankets – do you know how many times we had to use a blanket to complete our assessments and save our patients.  Many times.  But seriously, the key to first aid is knowing what to do in an emergency situation and having some pre-prepared responses that kick in when needed.

After having a conversation with someone the other day I realized that there are parallels between first aid and evangelism.  The key to feeling empowered to step into an emergency first aid situation is as I said, that knowledge of what to do and some pre-prepared responses that guide you through a situation.   I feel confident that if I came across an incident, that because of the first aid training that I would feel competent to step in.  I even dreamed about it the other night!   I did however think it was odd that kylo ren was the ambulance driver….  Welcome to my world….

The key to feeling empowered to step into an evangelistic situation also involves knowing what to do and how to use those skills.   Our confidence comes from being trained and equipped to step in when the opportunity presents itself.

God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

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God has called each one of us to be ambassadors and witnesses – to shine His light into the world so that people will see God in the darkness.  It is God who saves and draws people to Himself but He demonstrates His love and grace and lives out salvation in us.

God has qualified and empowered each one of us to do this momentous task.  It should be done every day in every conversation in every opportunity.  It’s not something we turn off or turn on.  We don’t clock in or clock out. We ARE witnesses.  24/7.  We ARE the light of the world, unhidden and shinning bright. God often uses small matches to light up great torches, no matter how small you feel in this world, He has something big in store for you and will use you in amazing ways.

I know for myself that the key to being a witness and a light is to say YES.  One small word changes my intentionality level and willingness to be used by God.  One small word.  YES.

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When we say YES to extraordinary things can happen.  Our willingness to say YES opens the doors for God to bring people.  Saying YES can be the hinge that will change our lives, and the lives of those that we have God conversations with.

  1. Recognizes & Responds

When we say YES To God we recognize that it is His will, not our will.  He is God and He sees all and knows all.  He can lead us to the desert because He knows who we will meet there.  He can take us to unfamiliar “places” because everything is on His radar and map.   Saying YES acknowledges that He is Lord and that we are not.

YES is our response to God’s love and grace.  Obedience isn’t to win salvation or “pay it back” because it is a free gift from God, but when we love Him we want to live to please Him.

1 John 2:3–6  And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected.  By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

 

John 14:15 puts it even more black and white.  “If you love me, keep my commands.”

 

If we say we love God and yet are not prepared to talk to other people about Him, and are not prepared to step out as God leads… then what does that say about our faith????

 

 

 

  1. Responsibility

God has given us the ministry of reconciliation.  God was in Christ, offering peace and forgiveness to the people of this world. And he has given us the work of sharing his message about peace. We were sent to speak for Christ, and God is begging you to listen to our message. We speak for Christ and sincerely ask you to make peace with God. 2 Corinthians 5:19-21

For God so loved the world that He gave His only son, so that all who believe in Him will not die but have eternal life. And God uses you and me as ambassadors, as representatives, to proclaim this good news.

God’s plan is to rescue the world and the very agents of change to proclaim the gospel is you and me.

Rescued people. People who have experienced grace for real.

We have a responsibility as ministers of reconciliation – as ambassadors for Christ.

Todd White, awesome evangelist, says he isn’t a professional evangelist, he is just a full time Christian.  When we make evangelism a task instead of a lifestyle we relegate it to the to-do list, or the maybe-do list.   We put our evangelist hat on when it suits us instead of living all the time on the ready, in the role, ambassadors representing Jesus everyday, in every way.

It is our responsibility as believers to “Live in such a way that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you.”

Pray that God would set up scenarios which would give you the chance to invite someone to church and share your story with them. Don’t be reactive, be proactive and ASK God specifically for these moments.

 

 

  1. Results

I am more convinced now than ever before that someone who says “yes” to God in big ways and in small ways is a world changer and an eternity changer.

Sometimes the world seems so big and the commission to tell all the world about Jesus can seem quite daunting. But I have personally experienced the wonder of simply being obedient to whatever is right in front of me and it is enough.

My job is obedience. God’s job is results.

1 Corinthians 3:6-7 says I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.  So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.

Isaiah 55:10-11 says “For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,

And do not return there,

But water the earth,

And make it bring forth and bud,

That it may give seed to the sower

And bread to the eater,

So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;

It shall not return to Me void,

But it shall accomplish what I please,

And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.”
When we have God conversation with someone we are planting seeds, watering seeds and sending forth the Word of God.

Don’t you love the iconic spray and walk away add.  30 Seconds, spray, walk away.

In the same way we have a conversation, we pray, and then we walk away.  The results belong to God and just as the 30 seconds solution works on the lichen and moss, dissolving it, so the words of God and the Holy Spirit works in people’s hearts dissolving barriers against the gospel.

So often though don’t we put the pressure on ourselves to not only plant the seed, water all the other seeds, weed the patch, apply fertilizer and harvest the crops….   The results are Gods.  God may lead you to pray with the person or to take them to the next level but the results are His.

 

 

  1. Refocus

Peter talked last week about how we are being conformed into the image of santa, I mean Jesus, the perfect evangelist, the perfect apostle, the perfect teacher, the perfect prophet, the perfect pastor.  We are all being transformed to be more like Jesus.

This transformation process is the journey of refocusing on what is really important.

Seek first the kingdom of God.

“The Enemy is trying to get you off assignment. He wants to distract you with something that God is not emphasizing in your life so that you will miss what God wants to teach you in that moment. Make no mistake: God is trying to grow you exactly where you are.”  Banning Liebsher

So let God work his will in you. Yell a loud no to the Devil and watch him scamper. Say a quiet yes to God and he’ll be there in no time. Quit dabbling in sin. Purify your inner life. Quit playing the field.” —James 4:7-8 MSG Focus

Life is more than breathing and so often everything can become focused on me me me unless we surrender to a constant process of refocusing.

Refocus on what is important to God.  People.  Lost people.  Jesus said His mission was to seek and save the lost.

Refocus on how God sees people.  Do we see people as unreachable, in the too hard basket, or that they’ve got it all together?

Having the heart and lifestyle of an evangelist means that you will begin to look at the people in your life differently. Every person in your life is created in the image of God, and Jesus commands every one of them to follow Him. God has placed these people in your life so that you will do everything that you can to influence them. Following Jesus means that you will be teaching other people to follow Jesus.

God sees people as children He loves and died for and did everything to rescue them.  When we refocus and allow God to soften our hearts for people we align ourselves with his heart.  It is often the hardness of OUR hearts that is the barrier to people getting saved than it is the hardness of their own heart…

Being completely honest, list a few reasons why you’ve avoided inviting your friends to church. Then pray over each one of them – that God would give you compassion and courage instead of focusing on yourself.  Ask God to change your perspective about those who don’t have a relationship with Him: ask Him to open your eyes to the reality that their soul CRAVES Him.

 

  1. Rejoice

When we say YES to God we get to be part of the redemption process.  “Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.” He wants to partner with us – that rescued people would rescue people.  That we who feel the effects of grace and love, who have experienced salvation for real, would then get to go and tell other people about it.   There is incredible joy in being used by God.  There is nothing better than a conversation with someone that becomes a spiritual conversation.  Heaven throws a party when one person gives their lives to Jesus.  That is rejoicing.

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As I pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  A person pursuing obedience is able to pause and touch those that He says need our time, in spite of busy schedules.  The obedience soul redefines who she is through God’s eyes and any hesitation to do what He asks fades way. // Lysa Terkeurst

 

Whether I’m writing an encouraging note to a discouraged friend or lending a helping hand to a mother who is overwhelmed with the responsibilities of her life, I’ve discovered its so simple to bring the light of God into the midst of our everyday world.  It is in the small acts of life that He can be reflected so beautifully – taking a meal to a new mother, welcoming a new neighbour with an invitation for dinner, or even just smiling at strangers as we pass them on the street.  as i pause to help others, I am reminded that, just like Jesus, we are called to notice the people around us and to bring a touch of hope into their lives.  // Lysa Terkeurst //

 

“Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person.”  // Lysa Terkeurst

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