ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Evangelism is a process. Unfortunately, many people forget how important they are to the process. We often believe that if we weren’t the one who actually invited the person to surrender his or her life to the Lord, we had no part in that person’s salvation. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Did Grandmother Rose, who before she died sat in her rocking chair reading her Bible, have any part in the salvation of her grandson? When she told the story of Goliath to a wide-eyed three-year-old, was God using her maternal role to plant the seeds of the Gospel?
There’s the tired, overworked church secretary who is in the middle of folding dozens of letters — numbers 48, 49, 50. Most of them are thrown away without being read. Then there’s letter 51. It’s to Carol, a 38-year-old single mother, who is alone and overwhelmed. She wants adult company and people who will help her with her children. Her young boy needs a role model because there is no dad in his life. The letter invites her to be a part of the adult choir — a “fun-loving group” that “prays together, laughs together and worships together.” Classes for children and childcare for infants will be held during practice. Some classes have male teachers. Carol’s mascara begins to run as tears fall quickly from her eyes. Three weeks later, she accepts Jesus as her Savior.
Deacon Jones is a quiet man. He can’t even pray aloud in front of a group. Behind the scenes, though, he’s speaking volumes. Little Johnny knows every week Deacon Jones will give him a “high-five” and a piece of candy if he memorized his Bible verse for Sunday School.
Widow Johnson found out what a handyman Deacon Jones is when her car broke down and she didn’t know what to do. She had just moved to the area to be closer to her daughter, and her daughter told her she should go to church to meet some people. Widow Johnson had never been faithful to any church, but now she’s found people who really care.
There’s also the newlywed, military couple who forgot their umbrella when visiting the church, only to have Deacon Jones hold an umbrella for them in the rain. Why is he so different?
When that couple, the widow and little Johnny profess their faith in Christ through baptism, the whole church rejoices. Deacon Jones does, too, as he stands out of the sight of the congregation helping each of the four out of the baptistery.
Then there’s Barbra, who worked in Vacation Bible School for years. She has a physical handicap that keeps her from going up the stairs. The accident that caused her body to stop functioning like other people has also caused her not to be able to think and speak clearly. Nevertheless, the kitchen is downstairs and she loves to make punch for the kids. The children make her happy and she makes them feel special. She can’t teach the mission story, but when the pastor comes in to share the plan of salvation and numerous children respond to the message, she writes their first names down for the pastor and staff to follow up. Barbra’s smile stretches all the way across her face. She has prayed for children to come to know Christ every morning. She hugs each boy and girl who made a decision before they return to their class. Some would say Barbra does nothing in evangelism. I’m not so sure.
There are many people who engage the lost without the lost ever knowing their names. God knows their names. He is using their gifts, talents and time for a Kingdom purpose.
Sure, I think we should learn how to share our faith. I certainly think we need to find ways to be on the frontlines of the spiritual battle for the lost. But for everyone on the frontline, there must be equal support from the rear.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.