I am not an evangelist because when I think of an evangelist I think of the following:
- A persuasive man on T.V. with an expensive suite and white shoes. I don’t own any white shoes, so I don’t qualify.
- The Soap Box Preacher with a Megaphone. I remember walking by an older gentleman with a megaphone and he told me I needed to get my life right. I told him I was a believer and was on my way to church. He did not believe me and told me not to mock God. I’m determined not to be that guy.
- Lastly, I think of the guy on the train preaching his heart out. I have a ton of friends who do that. On one occasion, a family member told me of their encounter and how the train evangelist was ridiculed. I am definitely not that guy. I just don’t have the courage to withstand any kind of ridicule.
When I came to know Christ my life was forever changed.
I owe this change to a persistent cousin of mine. He was committed to seeing me come to Christ. It began by him coaching my little league team. I’d see him about 3 or 4 days a week. He didn’t always preach, he just hung out with me.
Then it happened.
He invited me to the movies. So we went to a late night showing of “Forest Gump.” I did not know I was being set up.
When the movie was over, he told me he could not drive me home. He lived in a dangerous neighborhood and I was not going to take public transportation to get home. So I stood over his house.
The next day, he told me he needed to be at church early so he could not take me home until after the service. So I had a choice between going home alone or going to church and then get a ride home. So I went to church with him.
18 years later I am a Pastor at that same church. I had no clue that God had set me up.
3 Steps That Can Open Up People To The Gospel
18 years later, when I think about what my cousin did, 3 things stand out to me.
1. He had a genuine love for me.
He was involved in the things I cared about. He took the time to go to my baseball practices. He would teach me some of his pitches. We practiced together. Eventually, I came to understand that he cared for me and it was more about what he could do for me and less about what he got from me. He had a genuine love for me. Can I suggest to you that it is easier for someone to understand the love of Christ when they first feel it from you? It’s why we see Jesus perform all these miracles. He became so close to the people and their situations and that made it easy for them to believe that he was the Son of God. He was always willing to heal, feed, bring to life and even give his own. Whatever it took for people to see that he cared. Caring is the first step to evangelism.
My cousin was patient with me. He actually took over a year of praying for me to come to Christ. I still remember late night phone calls and invite after invite even when I would only say ‘no’. There were days that we’d hang and I’d use vulgar words around him and not once did he correct me or get upset. I never felt like I was a horrible sinner around him. I just always felt like he genuinely cared for me. You see, even when a person seems hopeless, it takes a special kind of patience to believe they will be saved. Some people hear the gospel and are instantly compelled. Others may take longer and require prayer and persistence and maybe even a bit of fasting. God sees the sinner that requires much patience and He doesn’t give up on them. Neither should we.
3. Honesty, In Love.
This was the tough one. We were on the train platform once and I was trying to get him to understand that I was going to heaven because I was a ‘good boy’. He said to me, “Good people go to hell, saved people go to heaven.” I didn’t talk to him for a week because of that comment but after some time, I realized that he was right and I was lacking something in my soul. Being good meant nothing compared to having Jesus Christ in my life. I didn’t realize that before, perhaps because no one had been as honest as my cousin had been with me. It is so important that as we evangelize we speak truth, in love of course. So many of us try to talk about Jesus’ love in an unloving way. We should never compromise the integrity of the gospel in exchange for making someone feel good, so be honest. But do so in love. Be straight forward but remember you’re dealing with a life. And it is more important to be righteous than it is to be right.
Genuine Love + Genuine Patience + Genuine Truth
When I think of an evangelist by the world’s standards, my cousin doesn’t fit the bill. But the truth is that he is an evangelist because his life evangelized to me. I am forever grateful for his genuine love, genuine patience and genuine truth. His actions helped me to see Jesus.
What does evangelism mean to you? I’d like to suggest that evangelism isn’t always a one-time message or compelling argument. Evangelism is showing Chris through the way you live.