Evangelism is a word that can cause some church people to cringe.
Because it can be scary – it provokes the thought of talking to strangers, God asking you to do something seemingly weird, or the possibility of stepping out and being rejected.
In all reality, evangelism is being radically shameless in our love for Christ and passionately wanting to share it with other people in different ways.
There is not a set formula as to what evangelism should look like or what the outcome should be.
Obviously, we aim for salvation and healing, but sometimes our agendas don’t always line up with God’s.
Here are a few personal examples of times I have seen the church step out and be obedient, but not see the results they had expected.
During our last term group, the Heart Of Evangelism Group spent two Wednesday nights outside of the church doing evangelism and praying around the city.
The first week the group went to Walmart in Tyler to do a “treasure hunt”.
What is a treasure hunt?
A spiritual treasure hunt is where a group of people meet together to pray/worship and ask God for “hints” or “clues” – things that will help highlight people He wants them to pray for.
For example, a group of people could come together and one person could hear the words: Walmart, gray shirt, sunglasses on head, bald, and tattoos.
With those words that person would then go to Walmart and see if they could find someone to fit that description.
This is exactly what our evangelism group did.
It was a small group, and four out of the five had never done this before.
But, as they started praying and walking around the store the Lord immediately started highlighting people that they were supposed to talk to.
Two people from the group felt they were supposed to approach an elderly man and pray for his healing.
They were both faithful and stepped out to do so – they did not see his immediate healing, but that did not mean they did not leave an impression or make an impact on this man’s life.
He commented on how extremely grateful and touched he was by their obedience to the Lord, and how they took time to notice him and his needs.
Now, you may think “well, I don’t want to do that if God isn’t going to come through immediately,” which is understandable.
We often fear to step out and be obedient to God’s voice for that very reason.
There is always that thought that “nothing could happen” and we would either look dumb or make God look bad.
We tend to approach situations thinking “well God I’m doing this for you, and you want people to believe in you…right? So if I do this just let it work,” and then we cross our fingers and pray for someone.
Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. Hebrews 11:1
The Bible states in Isaiah 53:5 that Jesus bore our transgressions and by His stripes, we are healed.
Let me say that again…the Bible tells us that by His stripes we ARE healed.
I have faith in the Word of God.
I believe it to be God-breathed and just as relevant for Christians today as it was when it was written, which means I believe my God is a God of healing whether I see it or not – and so did the two people who prayed over that elderly gentleman in Walmart.
Whether they saw immediate healing they still held on to the fact that God is Jehovah Rapha – our Healer.
We may not see the manifestation of healing immediately, but God knows what He is doing and His timing is perfect.
Whether you pray over someone for healing and they are healed right then and there, in thirty days, or in thirty years, God is still good.
There were other testimonies of divine appointments from that night.
Remember the example from above?
Gray shirt, bald, tattoos, and sunglasses on the head?
Yeah, that person was found too!
However, that encounter did not go exactly as planned either.
Two girls from the group approached this man resembling the clues – one of those girls being me.
The approach can always feel kind of awkward, but because the man fit the clues so accurately, the two of us walked straight up to him and began trying to explain what we were doing and why we were talking to him.
As we began to say we were from New Covenant Church and that we wanted to know if we could pray for him, he opened his mouth and immediately began to revile us.
He proceeded to point to the “666” and “no religion” tattoos he had all over his body.
Kind of caught off guard, but still trying to be loving, we fumbled through some words and began to walk away slowly.
The man continued to say crude things to our backs that honestly made my blood boil.
It wasn’t that he wasn’t a Christian, and it wasn’t even necessarily the fact that he wasn’t interested in what we had to say, it was the way he went about telling us to “**** off” that made me feel sort of upset with the Lord.
I thought to myself “God, how could you? You knew he fit the description, and you knew he would do that. Why on earth did you send us over to him?”
Then it hit me.
Who am I to say that the Lord had not already been working on his heart and I was yet another “sign” that He was real.
Or, who I am I to say I was not the first person to plant some seeds, and someone else was going to come along and reap the harvest of being able to see this man saved?
These two questions made me check my heart.
Was I on the treasure hunt just to see things and feel good about myself, or was I there to be available for the Lord and because He told me to?
After taking a moment to breathe and forgive the way the man had chosen to speak to two young girls, I began to pray for him.
I knew the Lord had orchestrated that divine appointment, and I may never know until I get to Heaven the impact – if any – it had on Him.
The Lord is always at work and passionately pursuing the hearts of people.
He never stops.
But I think we can often forget that means even people who don’t want anything to do with Him – that does not mean the Lord won’t have us love them or try to encourage them!
I could have walked away from that encounter with my feelings hurt or my anger through the roof, instead, I let the Lord soften my heart towards that man and comfort me knowing we had stepped out and been obedient to God – the outcome didn’t make us any less successful in the eyes of the Father.
For all I know that man could already be saved and plugged into a church by now. Whether or not my friend and I got to see him fall on his face in repentance we were a part of planting seeds in his heart. We are blessed even if we are unaware of it!
Did you hear that? Even if we are unaware of it we are blessed by our obedience!
The church gets squirmy when they are asked to step out and evangelize because we fear rejection of man.
No one likes to be cursed at, rejected, or made fun of.
But Matthew 5:10 says “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
We are never promised that every time we step out people will receive us and what we have to say – but if we don’t ever step out, we will never have the opportunity to see people say yes, accept Christ, or be healed.
The more we step out, the more we become confident in who God is in us and how He wants to work and move through us.