This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. 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. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” – 2 Cor 5: 17-20
Moses came to visit us on Sunday. Yes, that’s right, Moses. A fine young man from Africa, he had recently decided to take God more seriously and wanted to get baptised and learn to share his faith. So, after joining our gathering last Sunday, a group of us went down to a beach on Sydney harbour and prayed. In front of bystanders and curios, in the middle of winter, we walked into the sea and baptised Moses. Moses in the water, marvellous!
After that we went out on the streets, and began to share the Gospel of Jesus with strangers.
Earlier in the week, a dear friend whom I respect enormously suggested to me that not all believers are called out on the streets, that the gift of evangelism is just one of several, and that we are all called to participate in support for those who evangelise in different ways. I thought long and hard about this; is it correct?
In recent weeks, a group of young people who go out onto the streets to share their faith have led half a dozen others to Christ and baptised 4 of them straight away. A woman we spoke to some weeks back has met us again, and wants to start a discovery Bible study with some of the women in our gathering. As a result of our work on the streets, we have begun to see others, non-believing enquirers joining us in Discovery Groups, wondering what a relationship with Christ might mean.
Around the world, we read stories, just about every week, of ordinary people going out into the marketplace talking to people about the love of God through Christ. I’m not talking about India, Africa or other developing countries, but Western nations like Australia or Britain. In some instances, over weeks and months, dozens are responding to the Gospel message in different ways. They become disciples.
Is going out on the streets though, even with all this, that important? Is it not really the domain of just a few evangelists, supported in prayer and other works by those presumably who aren’t evangelists? I find that difficult to swallow.
Aside from what appears to be a clear command from Christ, and overwhelming support throughout the entire Scriptures of the importance of sharing the incredible grace of God through Christ Jesus with non-believers, why else would we share the Gospel on the streets?
Surely one of the most compelling reasons is to counter the statistic that 98% of church-goers have never shared their faith with another. We see so many, meet so many, whose faith over the years has withered, even died. A lifetime of hearing about a God who is powerful, praying to that God, singing praises to Him, listening to incredible stories – but never actually experiencing it, will cause any believer to doubt. Why share with anyone such a God?
Yet, and we have seen it time and again, encourage such a person to begin to open their mouths with another about the person of Jesus Christ, and suddenly their faith comes alive. Their faith moves from a position of just knowledge, to one of obedience as they begin to encounter the joy of sharing with someone who is desperate for answers in this life.
Over and over we have been out with the shy, the unassuming, the sceptic even those with such little faith, and seen their lives change. From every understanding of the word, there wasn’t an evangelist among them, yet they could share with a total stranger. They became alive in the process.
I could go on. We have found that going out of the streets, sharpens us such that we are able to pray and share constantly with those in our everyday lives. Sharing the Gospel becomes a way of life, only after we move out into the marketplace. Jesus becomes our everyday, for reasons of which we are unsure, other than we obey.
Does it have to be the streets? Perhaps not; the grocery store will do, the shopping mall, the tower block next door, or just the neighbourhood. For those unwilling, the excuse is usually that they are praying and sharing with their family and friends and prefer to keep it at that, after all so they tell me, we must evangelise those first. In our experience though, such people are the hardest to share with, and after a few rebuttals, most give up.
We have come to see Christ’s call to make disciples as a labour of love; making disciples seemed to clearly start with non-believers in the Scriptures, moving them to conversion and through to maturity – a big part of which, must surely be to make more disciples. A movement is started.
There would be more stories, even from our own meagre experiences that would fill this blog for evermore. Disciple making is for keeps, and that means going into the harvest to search for them. It would seem nothing is clearer.
In the book of Daniel, it says those who lead others to righteousness shall shine like stars for all eternity. Who wants a piece of that?