“He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”
– Jim Elliot (martyred missionary in Ecuador)
Raised in an evangelical church, with parents fresh out of Bible college, I have been exposed to the “missionary culture” for as long as I can remember. Every night at the dinner table my family would pray for a different missionary from our rapidly growing collection of prayer cards. I was almost 10 years old before I discovered that our “Prayer Card Holder” was actually made for napkins! For years I dreamt of the day I would follow God’s call to the mission field myself. But, like so many church-goers, I had a distorted view of evangelism.
WHAT IS EVANGELISM?
While reaching the lost through overseas ministry is a huge part of evangelism, you don’t have to go to a foreign country or have a special anointing from God to share the Gospel. There are just as many opportunities closer to home. From street preaching to rescue ministries, passing out tracts, door to door witnessing, or just sharing the Gospel with coworkers, friends, and family — the possibilities are endless!
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick;
and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.” (Matthew 5:14-15)
In speaking to His disciples, it’s interesting to note that Jesus did not command them to be the light of the world. He proclaimed that they were! Then He reminded them to let their lights shine. Evangelism isn’t something we have to cross oceans to do. If we are followers of Jesus Christ, we are His witnesses; His missionaries, wherever we are. The question is: What message are you sharing with those around you?
STARTING AT THE VERY BEGINNING
Many evangelicals want to skip over the Old Testament and “Get to the Gospel,” but our message must be foundational if it is going to be life-changing. Preaching from Mars Hill, the Apostle Paul made a case for Christ by starting at the very beginning. . .
“The God who made the world and everything in it,
being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,
nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything,
since He Himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.”
By starting with Creation, Paul established common ground with his audience. Every culture has their own legend of how we got here. Many share common traits with the biblical account. Although the God of the Bible was vastly different from their petty, pagan gods, the people of Athens recognized the Creator God through the things He has made. So Paul used creation, and their knowledge of it, to make an assertion about God and His attributes. The rest of the sermon made sense because Paul started at the very beginning.
As a young teen, my view of evangelism was drastically challenged and impacted by the book “Peace Child” from Don Richardson, in which the author recounted his use of tribal customs and legends to explain the Gospel Story, starting with Creation.
Around the same time we were introduced to a video called “EE-TAOW” from New Tribes Mission which told the fascinating, true story of the Mouk people in Ecuador. When Mark and Gloria Zook went to this village tribe, they didn’t begin with the Romans Road or the Sinner’s Prayer. Instead, they started with the Story of Creation. It took two months of daily lessons before they even mentioned the name of Jesus. As the villagers heard the foundational stories from the Old Testament, they began to recognize themselves as sinners who needed a Savior. When they finally reached the New Testament, the Mouk people were devastated by the trial, crucifixion, and death of the sinless One. They grasped the horrificness of His execution because they had glimpsed the holiness of God throughout the Biblical timeline. When they learned of His resurrection and understood that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for their sins, the Mouk people began to rejoice. Their cry of “EE-TAOW!” (It is good!) reverberates into eternity.
LIGHT IN DARKNESS
Light doesn’t ask for permission to chase away the darkness. It doesn’t apologize for doing its job. Light permeates and pervades; penetrating into the very recesses of the room. Yet, as Christians, so many times we cower and hold back, fearing to share the Gospel with those who need its life-changing message. Around us, the world grows darker. Shouldn’t that darkness cause us to burn even brighter?
While I never made it across the ocean to minister to unreached people groups, it has been an honor to be part of the team at Creation Today, reaching many through the message of Creation Apologetics. Because we believe that God’s invisible attributes can be clearly seen through the things He has made, (Romans 1:22) we desire to begin at the beginning and reach the world for Christ. If we hold eternity in our hearts, we will never be ashamed to speak the Truth–from the very first verse to the last.