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FIRST-PERSON: Making evangelism good news again

ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP)–Being married to “Mr. Evangelism” isn’t always easy.

Oh, John Avant is the most wonderful of husbands and fathers — a woman couldn’t ask for more. Yet his enthusiasm for sharing the Good News can sometimes be overwhelming.

For instance, on our much-needed date night at one of our favorite restaurants, all I wanted was for him to gaze into my eyes and listen to me attentively; yet the waiter couldn’t believe we would pray for him and his needs. The waiter just wanted to hang around and talk to us. How dare that waiter think we would care for him — didn’t he know it was our date?

Then there was the time on family vacation — it included the whole family, with all 17 Avants — when John and I were responsible for cooking the dinner. John was to do the grilling, and I was anxiously awaiting his arrival to begin the task. I had been slaving in the kitchen doing all the cutting, dicing and prep work. It was his turn to do his job.

Where was that man? Thirty minutes late, an hour late — finally, one of the family members comes running up from the beach, saying, “Someone got caught in a rip current, John swam out to save them, he pulled them out of the water, shared the Gospel with them and they prayed to receive Christ!” I am ashamed to admit it — my first thought was not “glory hallelujah,” but, “Well, John better get up here and help me right now — the kids are hungry!”

I am very selfish sometimes. Selfishness, self-centeredness, self-absorption — however anyone says it — that is my problem most of the time. Please tell me I am not the only one with this “heart problem.”

Oh, I have shared the Gospel in many situations and have had the privilege of leading others to Christ. One of my favorites was on Wednesday nights at the Fulton County (Ga.) Juvenile Detention Center, where we held Wednesday night Bible Study for teenage girls. It was wonderful — my timetable, my schedule.

But what I am praying right now is that I will become less self-centered in my everyday life. You know the life — where plumbers are in your house for several days working on your 25-year-old plumbing; where you sit for hours and work on taxes; where you realize there is nothing to make for dinner; where you go to the gym to work out; where people call and want to gossip; where teenagers drip chocolate ice cream on your new carpet. But I am called to be a Christ-bearer to people all around me — the plumbers, the tax guy, people at the gym and the grocery store, the gossips, and most importantly, my family. In “Be Still My Soul,” Elisabeth Elliot writes, “For Christ-Bearers, there is no dichotomy between secular work and spiritual work…. We were meant to be chalices, life bearers.”

Southern Baptists, please pray along with me, “Lord make me less self-centered and enable me to be a ‘Christ-bearer’ to anyone You choose to put in my path. Lord, I truly want to be Good News to those around me.”
Donna Avant is the wife of John Avant, who serves as vice president for evangelization at the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board.

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  • Donna Avant