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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Well, everything changed for our family over the holidays. My first-born child, my sweet, gifted and beautiful daughter, Christi, is now engaged.

It happened while we were on vacation. We brought Christi’s boyfriend, Matt, with us so he could have some time with our whole family. Now, Matt is a wonderful young man. Responsible, a strong and growing Christ-follower, and deeply in love with my daughter. But it still almost took my breath away when he told me on the first night of our vacation that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with my daughter and asked my permission to propose to her. When I regained my composure, I prayed a blessing over him and helped him get ready for a treasure hunt that sent Christi to each member of our family before finally ending up with Matt, where he got on one knee and proposed. As she said yes, we all were secretly watching from a distance and began to cheer. What a moment!

Since then, how difficult do you think it has been for me to tell people about my daughter’s engagement? Do you think I have been afraid to tell anyone? Have I been too busy? Or felt like it was someone else’s job or not my gift? Of course not! I have wonderful news to tell. A wonderful man loves my daughter and has committed his life to her. I can’t wait to talk about it!

That’s how evangelism is meant to be. A wonderful Man loves my daughter … and my whole family, and the entire world –- even me. And He has committed His life to us forever, even to the point of dying for us. Yet now He lives — with life, passion, purpose and ultimate love to give. His name is Jesus, and I intend to tell everyone I can about what He has done. Why would I not? Should I be afraid to talk about Him? That would be so silly, only the devil himself could convince me of that. Is that what Satan is doing to you? Well, don’t put up with it anymore!

It is so important for us to make new friends who don’t know Christ and stop spending all our time with other Christians. We are a mission force, not a club. When we do this, God brings such joy into our lives. Christmas Day was a reminder of this for me. We got back from vacation on Christmas Eve and I opened the mail the next day. There was a letter from a friend that I met while working out in a fitness center. We hit it off and he came to faith in Christ as I shared with him while we were lifting weights. He wrote to thank me and let me know he was doing well.

He wrote, “Isn’t it interesting that two guys opened their minds to each other while we worked out our bodies so my soul could be changed!” Wow! That same day we shared Christmas dinner with some of our best friends in the world, a couple I led to Christ when she was a Buddhist and he was an atheist. Now she is pregnant and we feel like this child will be a part of our family. What unequaled joy! I just can’t describe how much I want this joy for you. It is so easy to share good news with friends. And it is the essence of the authentic Christian life. It is my passion and my mission in the year ahead to help Southern Baptists live this good news life.

I’ll also be telling all who are interested about the joy of an upcoming marriage in our family. Have a wonderful New Year making 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