Witnessing

A great way to share the gospel and tell others about Jesus is to tell them your story. Christians have two stories: the gospel and their own story; their testimony. You know, I have never met an atheist (or an agnostic) who can say: ‘Do you know what, atheism has really changed my life… you should have seen my life before I became an atheist!’ But every Christian can say that! A great way to share the gospel and tell others about Jesus, is to tell them your story; the story that God tells about you in heaven. Everyone has a story. Who is Jesus to you? (Tell them how things were for you before; what happened; and how things are now.) In the final analysis people can’t argue with our experience, which is why a Christian’s testimony is so effective.

R. Ian Seymour

R. Ian Seymour, Empowered Personal Evangelism, Weybridge: New Wine Press (2014), p.61

Here’s a quote from Martin Luther King, taken from a sermon he preached at Ebenezer Baptist Church on 4 February 1968, two months before he was assassinated, and which was played at his funeral:

“Every now and then I guess we all think realistically about that day when we will be victimized with what is life’s final common denominator – that something we call death. We all think about it and every now and then I think about my own death and I think about my own funeral. And I don’t think about it in a morbid sense. And every now and then I ask myself what it is that I would want said and I leave this word to you this morning.

If any of you are around when I have to meet my day, I don’t want a long funeral. And if you get somebody to deliver the eulogy tell him not to talk too long. Every now and then I wonder what I want him to say. Tell him not to mention that I have a Nobel Peace Prize – that isn’t important. Tell him not to mention that have 300 or 400 other awards–that’s not important. Tell him not to mention where I went to school.

I’d like somebody to mention that day, that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to give his life serving others. I’d like for somebody to say that day, that Martin Luther King Jr. tried to love somebody. I want you to say that day, that I tried to be right and to walk with them. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try to feed the hungry. I want you to be able to say that day, that I did try in my life to clothe the naked. I want you to say on that day, that I did try in my life to visit those who were in prison. And I want you to say that I tried to love and serve humanity. Yes, if you want to, say that I was a drum major. Say that I was a drum major for justice. Say that I was a drum major for peace. I was a drum major for righteousness.

And all of the other shallow things will not matter. I won’t have any money to leave behind. But I just want to leave a committed life behind. And that is all I want to say. If I can help somebody as I pass along, if I can cheer somebody with a well song, if I can show somebody he’s traveling wrong, then my living will not be in vain.”

Charles Finney, lawyer and evangelist, was speaking in a New York church in the 1830s. At the end of each evening, he gave people the opportunity to come to the front of the room and commit their life to Jesus. A great many lawyers came to hear him. One night, the Chief Justice of New York was sitting way up in the gallery. As he listened to Finney proclaiming the gospel he became convinced it was true.

Then this question came into his mind: ‘Will you go forward like the other ordinary people?’ Something within him made him think that it would be inappropriate to do so, because of his prestigious social position (at the top of the legal hierarchy of New York State). He sat there pondering the choice he had to make. Then he thought, ‘Why not? I am convinced of the truth… why should I not do it like any other person?’

He got up from his seat in the gallery, went down the staircase and came up the stairs at the back to where Finney was preaching. Finney, in the middle of his sermon, felt someone tugging at his jacket. He turned around. The Chief Justice said, ‘Mr Finney, if you will call people forward I will come.’ Finney stopped his talk and said, ‘The Chief Justice says that if I call people forward he will come. I ask you to come forward now.’

The Chief Justice went forward. Almost every lawyer in Rochester, New York, followed him! It is said that 100,000 people were converted in the next twelve months in that area. One person’s choice affected the lives of numerous others.

Life is full of choices. We make choices every day of our lives. You can make bad choices or you can make good choices. Your choices matter. Some choices have life-changing consequences.

Nicky Gumbel

Bible in One Year 2020 with Nicky Gumbel, day 123, YouVersion

Unfortunately, too many Christians are like Artic Rivers; they are frozen at the mouth!

J. John

Evangelism The Archbishop of Canterbury helping Christians to share their faith

I came to faith in 1993 after the birth of our son, Aaron. Having always thought of myself as a Christian, I wanted to have my son baptised and so I contacted the vicar of our local church. He persuaded me – and my wife, Suzanne – to attend a course called ‘Christianity Explained’ so that we could learn what baptism and Christianity was all about, and decide whether or not it was really the right thing for us to do. Well, we went along each week for six weeks and I was extremely challenged and, I am ashamed to say, I gave the vicar a hard time! We eventually finished the course and had our son’s baptism service, but it wasn’t until a few weeks later – after much reading of the Bible, soul searching and prayer – that ‘the penny finally dropped’ and I came to repentance and gave my life to Jesus!

For months previously, I’d fought tooth and nail against making a decision for Christ. I was carrying a lot of baggage and the truth be told, I was frightened of making a commitment. What would it mean? What would I have to do or give up? I knew Jesus was real and I could feel him drawing me, but I couldn’t, or wouldn’t, let go. I even tried to turn away from Jesus but I couldn’t shake Him (thank God). It seemed that almost everywhere I turned I saw ‘signs’ pointing me back to Christ… churches or crosses or Bibles or other friendly Christians smiling at me and inviting me to things! I had absolutely no peace at all and so in the end I quit fighting it, threw in the towel and surrendered.

Twenty seven years later… one thing I can say is this: I have never met a Christian who ever regretted making that decision.

R. Ian Seymour

We are to be ‘the salt of the earth’ (Matthew 5:13). In the days before deep freezers and fridges, salt was used to keep meat from going bad. Christians are called to keep society from decay. Salt is also a flavour enhancer. We are called to bring out the full flavours of humanity by living in relationship with God and one another. We are also called to be ‘the light of the world’ (Matthew 5:14) and to light up the darkness around us.

Nicky Gumbel

Nicky Gumbel, The Jesus Lifestyle, 2010, London: Alpha International, p.33

‘Humans are built to have purpose, to be building something, to have a reason to get up each day. One way to know your purpose is to ask, “What is the one thing that you hope people will say about you when you die?” That you lived a full life? Raised happy kids? Enjoyed a successful career? Were well respected in your community? – How many of those purposes will matter in a thousand years? – After Jesus’ resurrection he appeared to his disciples and reaffirmed his purpose; in Luke 24v46-47 we read: “Jesus told them, ‘This is what is written: the Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” Then Jesus continued with his people’s (our) purpose – yours and mine; verse 48: “You are witnesses of these things.”

Jesus is building something – the only thing – that will last forever. He is calling people to enjoy his rule and his recue as members of his people. Ultimately, nothing else matters. No other purpose counts. And he invited his people that day, and invites his people today, to be part of that great purpose. “You are witnesses of these things.” He will work though us. We will get to do something that is eternally meaningful, that will matter to us the day after we die. He gives us purpose that death cannot mock.’

Explore

Explore Bible notes, 3/4/2018

Christopher Ash relates how he once read of a dispute in Britain between the Foreign Office and the Treasury. The argument was about which British Ambassadors would be provided with a Rolls Royce for their official duties in a foreign capital. The Treasury unsurprisingly wanted these wonderful cars restricted to a few: perhaps Washington, Moscow and Paris. The Foreign Office argued for many more, and I love their reasoning. Most people in a foreign capital have never been to Britain, they said. But when the see this magnificent car gliding through their streets with the Union flag on the bonnet, they will say to themselves, ‘I have not been to Britain, I don’t know much about Britain. But if they make cars like that there, and in those days we did, then Britain must be a wonderful place.’ – In the same way, unchurched men and women should see how we Christians behave and say to themselves: ‘I have never seen God but if he can make believers love other people and love one another like this, then He must be a good God.’

Source: Christopher Ash, adapted from Married for God, 2007, Nottingham: IVP, p.96

I read that Gram Seed lay dying in Middlesbrough hospital. Three years of living on the streets had taken its toll. He had hypothermia, pneumonia and septicaemia. The doctors sought permission from his mother to switch off his life-support machine. He says, ‘I spent nearly all my life in jail. I was a skinhead, I was a football hooligan, I was in the rave scene, I was charged with murder. But I was searching for love all my life and I couldn’t find it.

My mother gave up on me when I was twenty-one. She said I was the son of Satan. She said I was evil like my father who I’d never seen. He used to rape and beat my mum up and he went to prison. She said, “You’re more evil than your dad and I don’t want nought to do with you – you’re dead as far as I’m concerned.”

I grew up with my nanna and my granddad. My nanna was drinking and taking drugs all the time. I didn’t have hope. I didn’t know what it was but I was always trying to fill this hole inside me with things – drugs and alcohol and sex and violence.

It was a vicious cycle of prison and outside and prison and outside. I ended up in a coma and it looked as if my life was over.

Then these lads who had been trying to tell me about Jesus on the streets turned up in the intensive care room and prayed for me.

They said, “In the name of your son, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, give this man new life”. And I woke up and started breathing myself. That evening I opened my eyes for the first time in six days. They came back later and told me of God’s love for me and that Jesus came and died for people like me. I felt a freedom that I had never known before.

I went along to this Alpha course at the church. I had four front teeth missing and I was a right rebel. I hated myself and I remember saying, “Jesus – if you are real, come into my life. These people tell me that you can change me and give me hope and set me free.” I had my hands out and I fell back and started crying. From that day on I was totally transformed.

I said to Jesus that day, “You’ve given me hope. Help me to give other people hope.” From then on I had a desire to tell people about Jesus.

Three years later I started a ministry in our church called Emmanuel Prison Ministries. I was asked to go into the prison that I was released from in 1995. I spent ten years of my life in jail trying to get out and now every day I’m trying to get in. I run Alpha back-to-back now in seven prisons in the North East.

I talk to all the kids on the estates to tell them there is a better way of life. Stealing and taking drugs is not the way to go. I wanted them to know Jesus the way I had got to know him.’

Source: Bible in One Year – Alpha, Day 136 of 365

Author Rick Richardson asks: Did you ever think that the greatest gift you could give to your seeking and sceptical friends is the story of your spiritual struggles and doubts? As you reveal some of the vulnerability and even the darkness of your soul, along with your choice to be true to who you are despite the cost, your friends will listen. Your authority in part comes from your authenticity. Your greatest asset is your humanity. It’s your weaknesses, doubts and questions. Most people today are not at first interested in your answers. But they will be immediately relate to and identify with your questions and struggles.

Source: Rick Richardson, 2006, Re-imagining Evangelism, Scripture Union, p.23, 69

Nicky Gumbel relates how, in 1934, a twenty-four year old farmer, Albert McMakin, who had recently become a Christian, was so full of enthusiasm for the gospel that he filled his truck with people and took them to a meeting to hear about Jesus. There was one particular good-looking farmer’s son whom he was especially keen to get to a meeting, but the young man was hard to convince – he was too busy falling in and out of love with different girls, and just didn’t seem attracted to Christianity at all. Eventually Albert McMakin managed to persuade him by telling him he could drive the truck. When they arrived, Albert’s guest decided to go in and he was ‘captivated’ and began to have thoughts he’d never known before. He went back to the meetings again and again until one night he went forward and gave his life to Jesus. That name of the good-looking farmer’s son, who went because he got to drive the truck, was Billy Graham.

Graham became a world renowned evangelist and went on to lead thousands to faith in Jesus. Now we can’t all be Billy Graham, but we can all be like Albert McMakin; we can all bring our friends to hear about Jesus, to come and see.

Nicky Gumbel, Alpha Questions of Life, 2007 edition, Eastbourne: Kingsway Communications, p.181

How to witness? Jesus said, let your light shine, don’t hide it or cover it up or put it under a bowl. Put it on the table. Let it shine for all to see. – We are to let the presence of Jesus shine through us. – One man said, ‘I want to believe in Richard Dawkins but he’s not as happy as you are!’ He ended up becoming a Christian. There is something really attractive and compelling when we let the light and joy and presence of Jesus shine through us. Seek to live a beautiful life and overwhelm people with kindness. If we demonstrate God’s extravagant and unconditional love, with acts of charity and kindness, it won’t be long before people are asking us: ‘Why are you doing this?’ And if someone asks you a question like that you can bet they want to know the answer… what motivates you.

Tucked away in the word “testimony” is a key element to having one: Test. You don’t really have a testimony until you have come through a test. A testimony testifies as to what God has done to bring you through something. – Tony Evans

Tony Evans, Victory in Spiritual Warfare, 2011, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, p.159

The main reason that we have God’s Holy Spirit is to be witnesses. We’re either a good witness or we’re a poor witness, but we are definitely a witness. (…) In a court of law you’ll have a witness and you’ll have a lawyer. The witness gets up and says, ‘let me just tell you what I know’ – and that’s what they do: let me just tell you what I know, what I saw, what I felt, what I experience. Now a lawyer gets up and presents the facts in such a convincing manner to get the jury to make a decision. I’m what they call an evangelist, so I take the facts of Christianity – like an apologist – and I present them like that lawyer, in such a way as to make the jury come to a decision. Not everyone is a lawyer, not everyone’s an evangelist or an apologist. But everyone one of us is a witness. And so we’ve got to begin to be more intentional in telling our own story.

J. John

Source: The UCB Word For Today, 8/10/2015

I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.

Philemon v6 NIV1984 Edition

A shoe salesman named Edward Kimball led a young man to Christ years ago. Kimball is practically unknown today, but most of us know about the young man he led to Christ in the shoe store… D.L. Moody, who later became the great evangelist [and the forerunner of Billy Graham].

Source: Lorne Sanny, 1957, The Art of Personal Witnessing, Chicago: Moody Press, p.9

Victory comes through surrender.

In John chapter 12v21, Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover and some Greeks came to Philip and said, “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” – That’s what the unchurched are saying to us! Oh, they might not articulate it quite like that but that’s what they are really saying: – Wife, husband, parent, friend… that loved one you yearn to see walking with Christ, they want to see Jesus! Don’t be a Bible basher, don’t keep telling them they’re wrong; don’t nag at them night and day to repent and turn to Christ, don’t tell them first – love them first. “Sir, we want to see Jesus.” Let them see Jesus in you that they might be attracted to Jesus through you. – One man said, ‘I want to believe in Richard Dawkins but he’s not as happy as you are!’ – He ended up becoming a Christian.

We are not in a results based calling. We are in a witness programme. We are in a faithful witnessing and sharing the gospel regardless of results calling.

We need to kneel down

We need to stand up

We need to step out.

What do Billy Graham, Campus Crusade for Christ founder Bill Bright, Young Life founder Jim Rayburn, Navigators founder Dawson Trotman, and former Senate chaplain Richard Halverson have in common?

The answer is a Sunday school teacher named Henrietta Mears. If the kingdom of God was a multilevel marketing pyramid, each of them would be in Henrietta Mears’ downline. Perhaps that’s why Christianity Today dubbed her “the grandmother of us all”.

When Henrietta was thirty-eight years old, she moved from Minnesota to a burgeoning town called Hollywood, California. She got involved in Sunday school at First Presbyterian Church in Hollywood, which Henrietta led to an astounding attendance of 6,500 students. For four decades, she faithfully devoted herself to her passion of building a cradle-to-grave Sunday school. While she was at it, she also started a publishing company called Gospel Light and a conference centre called Forest Home, and she wrote a book, What the Bible Is All About, which has sold more than three million copies.

It’s impossible to estimate how many millions of people have heard the gospel through the collective efforts of her protégés. Take the ministry that Bill Bright started, now called CRU. At last count, CRU had 20,000 full time staff plus 663,000 trained volunteers in 181 countries. The ministry offshoots include Athletes in Action, Student Venture, and the Jesus Film Project. An estimated 3.4 billion people have heard the gospel through CRU.

Bill Bright and his band of brothers, known as The Fellowship of the Burning Heart, shaped the twenty-first century way beyond our ability to connect the dots. [The salvation of countless millions is also] hyperlinked to Henrietta’s influence on a young evangelist named Billy Graham. Billy Graham called her “one of the finest Christians I have ever known.”

You may not influence millions of people, but you may influence one person who influences millions. You might be parenting or coaching or mentoring the next Henrietta Mears, the next Billy Graham, the next Bill Bright. Whatever they accomplish for the kingdom of God is part of your spiritual downline!

At the end of his letter to the Romans, Paul shares his who’s who list. There are twenty-nine names – Paul’s up line and downline. Who’s on your Romans 16 list?

Mark Batterson

Source: Mark Batterson, IF, 2015, Grand Rapids: Michigan, Baker Books, p.142-144

In his book ‘Hope Again’, Chuck Swindoll says: ‘in the Marine Corps… our troopship carried us… onto Japanese soil… For many of us it was our first visit to a foreign country. We were surging with excitement… Our company commander called us together… and… said… “Remember, for the first time in your lives, you’re the foreigners. This isn’t your country or your culture… you’re the minority. These aren’t your fellow citizens; they don’t speak your language. They know nothing of your homeland except what they see in you… Act in a way that the Japanese people will gain a good impression of your country.” … As Christians, … our citizenship is in heaven… We belong to the kingdom of God… We need to be on our best behaviour, otherwise people will get a distorted perception of what our homeland is like… Our earthly culture is pagan to the core… God left us here for a purpose… to demonstrate what it’s like to be a member of another country, to have a citizenship in another land, that we might create a desire for others to emigrate!’

Source: The UCB Word For Today , 1/11/2012

When Bill Clinton was President of the United States, Mother Teresa was awarded a Congressional Medal for her years of humanitarian work in developing countries. But rather than simply accepting the honour quietly the aged nun took advantage of the opportunity to give a public speech in which she criticised the Clinton administration over its policy on abortion. Shortly afterwards a reporter asked President Clinton what he thought about the criticisms levelled at him by Mother Teresa. After a thoughtful pause Bill Clinton replied, ‘How can anyone argue with a life so well-lived?’ – Live a beautiful life and let the gospel speak volumes through you.

R. Ian Seymour, Empowered Personal Evangelism, Weybridge: New Wine Press (2014), p.24

John MacArthur writes: “One thing I have observed in all my years of ministry is the most effective and important aspects of evangelism usually take place on an individual, personal level. Most people do not come to Christ as an immediate response to a sermon they hear in a crowded setting. They come to Christ because of the influence of an individual. Keep that in mind, and allow both your life and your lips to give testimony to your neighbours and loved ones about Christ.”

John MacArthur, From Ordinary to Extraordinary, 2009, Nashville, Tennessee: Nelson, p.129

Some time ago, I read the testimony of a chap called Roger Simms, a Christian, who was hitchhiking home, and a Mr Hanover stopped and picked him up. As they drove towards Chicago, Roger felt God urging him to share his faith. He did… and then he asked the man driving if he would like to receive Christ. The long and short of the story is Mr Hanover stopped, bowed his head on the steering wheel and accepted Jesus. Shortly afterwards he dropped Roger at his house and went on to Chicago, which was about an hour down the road.

Years later, while preparing for a business trip to Chicago, Roger came across the business card that Mr Hanover (of Hanover Enterprises) had given him years earlier and he decided to look him up. When he asked the receptionist if he could see Mr Hanover, she said, ‘No, but his wife is here.’

‘You knew my husband?’ the woman asked. Roger explained that her husband had given him a ride and how he’d led him to Christ. ‘When was that?’ she asked. ‘May 7th, five years ago, the day I was discharged from the army.’ She began to sob. After several minutes she regained control and said, ‘I prayed for my husband for years believing that God would save him. But right after he let you out of his car, on May 7th, he was killed in a head-on collision. I thought God had not answered my prayers.

Church, share your faith: Tell others your story, your testimony, the story that God tells about you in heaven. Somebody may really need to hear it! Again, I have never met an atheist (or an agnostic) who can say: ‘Do you know what, atheism has really changed my life… you should have seen my life before I became an atheist!’ But every Christian can say that! Share your story!

Source: quoted in The UCB Word For Today, 5/9/2007

Unequivocally, it is when we get involved personally with others that our evangelism begins to take off. Unless we stop theorizing and reach out and knock on the neighbour’s door, we’ll never get to the real nuts and bolts of witnessing. Lifestyle evangelism begins with talking to people who in some way touch our lives. It is not a superficial, quick relationship or an overnight coup. It involves time and sacrifice, and most of all in involves our giving ourselves.

Paul Little

Paul Little, How to Give Away Your Faith, 1988, Downers Grove Illinois, IVP, p.21

Stephen Gaukroger relates how Charles Bradlaugh, an outstanding intellectual of the nineteenth century, challenged a local preacher of the gospel to a debate in London. The debate was to compare the claims of Christianity with the claims of atheism. The minister, Hugh Price Hughes, agreed to the challenge on one condition: Bradlaugh would bring with him a hundred people whose lives have been changed by their commitment to atheism. If he did so, then Hughes would bring a hundred people whose lives had been changed by knowing God. To drive his point home, Hughes offered to debate with Bradlaugh if he could bring fifty people, or twenty, or ten, and finally if he could bring one man or woman whose life had been transformed by atheism. Charles Bradlaugh had to withdraw from the debate. Atheism has no moral power to change lives.

Source: Stephen Gaukroger, It Makes Sense, 2003, Gold Hill published by Scripture Union, p.9-10

In full and glad surrender,

I give myself to Thee.

Thine utterly, and only,

and evermore to be.

F. R. Havergal

When seeking to witness and share your faith, use the FEEL, FELT, FOUND formula… (Friend) I understand how you FEEL. There was a time when I FELT like that (lonely, lost, depressed, unloved etc.) but then I FOUND true meaning and purpose in life. Did I ever tell you about my journey and how I came to faith? (When they say no, they’ve given you permission to share your testimony!)

A few years ago, my wife’s aged aunt, Daisy, fell out of bed and injured herself but not seriously. She was taken to hospital and kept in for observation but ended up contracting the MRSA bug, and died. – Daisy was kept in an isolation room and was unconscious for most of the time. Her sister (my mother-in-law) visited her every day but the killer-virus worked very quickly. One morning just before Aunt Daisy died, I was coming back from dropping my children off at school and I felt the Lord calling me to visit Daisy in hospital and pray with her. The feeling was so strong that I was obedient and went.

Aunt Daisy was unconscious and so I sat at her bedside, held her hand and told her that Jesus had sent me to talk to her and pray with her. She remained unconscious throughout my visit but I had my Bible with me and so I read to her from John 14… Jesus said, “In my Father’s house there are many rooms… I am going to prepare a place for you… I am the way and the truth and the life.” Then I said a short prayer of confession and finished with the Lord’s Prayer. I couldn’t be certain but I thought I saw her lips move ever so slightly when I said, “Amen.” – And I left knowing that I could do no more.

Later that evening, my mother and father-in-law went to visit her, for what was to be the last time. To everyone’s amazement, Aunt Daisy, was fully awake and sat bolt upright in bed, bright eyed and smiling after just finishing a meal. She told them she had had a wonderful visit earlier that day, and that Ian had come to see her, and pray. Later that very same night Daisy passed into eternity. After what my mother and father in law told me, I have no doubt that she is in heaven. And I believe God brought her back to consciousness one last time, so that I would know that I was right to go and tell her about Jesus.

R. Ian Seymour

Richard Blackaby says: I have known many a Christian who was deeply concerned because a husband or wife is an unbeliever. As the result, the believer would continually speak to his or her partner about the need for God. However, this persistence at times actually frustrated the non-believer and drove the spouse further from God. When the Christians come to me and tearfully share that they have done all they know to do but their mate seems more reluctant than ever, I suggest they may be attempting to do what only the Holy Spirit can do. “Instead of trying to convict your spouse of sin,” I say, “pray for your spouse daily and then watch to see when the Holy Spirit prepares him or her for a spiritual conversation.”

Richard Blackaby, Experiencing God, 2008, Nashville Tennessee: B&H Publishing, p.126

For some people, you may be the only Bible they ever read, so make sure what you are conveying is the love and light of Jesus.

Evangelism tellshowbe