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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–One of the enemy’s greatest lies is that people are not open to the message of Jesus. Most Christians are fearful that the people they talk to will be offended if they bring up spiritual things. Actually, I find this to be the most spiritually open time of my life.

But don’t take it from me, just turn on the television. Every other show is dealing with spiritual issues. “Ghost Whisperer,” “Lost,” “Supernatural,” “Night Stalker,” “Medium” and so many more. They are all asking the questions for which the Bible has the answers. Granted, most of them are a long way from biblical truth, but why should we be surprised at that if we are not engaged in the conversation!

Acts 1:8 tells us that we will receive power when the Spirit comes on us, and that we will be His witnesses. Do we believe that? Then we should wake up every day expecting that the power of God will be at work all around us, drawing people to Himself, making them open to His love. Then the only question will be whether we will share the Good News or miss out on all God could do with us.

I believe that our pastors have to lead out in making evangelism good news again. When pastors are honest, most admit that they don’t share Christ very often. It is easy for all of us to claim that we are too busy with other important things. I don’t think too many pastors would be busier than James Merritt — a former SBC president, a great family man, a speaker all over the country and the pastor of a booming church. But he is not too busy to share the Good News and to look for God’s open doors to do it.

James and I found ourselves on a plane together a few weeks ago. When we landed in Nashville we took a taxi together. Our cab driver told us he was a Muslim. His name was Mamadou. Now it would have been so easy for James to assume that this Muslim man would not be open. But James simply asked him what he believed about Jesus. Mamadou immediately began to tell us how he had become disappointed with Islam because of terrorism. Someone had given him a Bible in French, which excited him because he reads French. But he did not understand what he was reading.

James and I proceeded to do tag-team witnessing all the way to the hotel. When we arrived, our new friend pulled over and continued the conversation. James pulled no punches. He told Mamadou that he could not follow both Mohammed and Jesus. Mamadou lifted his hands up to pray and said, “I believe in Jesus!” I prayed with him and he became our brother!

Mamadou called me a few days ago. He is going through follow-up material in French. Now do you think James and I will be quiet about this? We’re telling this story everywhere. That’s the way it is with evangelism. It’s so much fun that you never get over it. And the incredible fact is that God is moving all around you today — opening doors in the hearts of people who are waiting to hear, waiting for you to walk through the open door into their hearts and lives. Thanks James, my friend, for setting an example for all of us. Let’s join him and make evangelism good news again.
John Avant is vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

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  • John Avant