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‘I have to make a confession …” about witnessing & discip

WIAMEA, Hawaii (BP)–I have to make a confession: I know I am a pastor, which brings the expectation of spiritual wisdom and courage, but I have always had a fear of sharing Christ with another person. I did it because I wanted others to experience the incredible joy of salvation, but I rarely shared well and with confidence.
All of that changed in October 1998 when I attended a FAITH clinic in California.
FAITH, a strategy coordinated by LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention, combines Sunday school and evangelism.
I was like most Christians: We want others to come to Christ, but we don’t really have an effective tool to use to share our faith, we don’t see the opportunities and we lack models of how to witness. The FAITH clinic empowered me and others who attended to share Jesus boldly because we now have an effective and simple tool, we see the opportunities and we have seen others just like us model witnessing for us.
Last November, 17 members of First Baptist Church of Waimea, Hawaii, committed to a 16-week training in the FAITH strategy.
We have five teams of three people and two alternates. On each team is one trainer who went to the California FAITH clinic and two trainees. At each weekly session, we spend 15 minutes meeting in teams, 30-45 minutes training in the FAITH presentation, visiting in our community for an hour and then returning to the church for a celebration and sharing time about what happened on our visits.
In the first nine weeks, we visited almost every family in our church along with every local visitor who came to our church. The trainees are almost ready to present the entire gospel using the FAITH presentation.
But witnessing is not just taking place on Sunday evenings. Witnessing is taking place in the everyday lives of our team members as they now have an easy method for sharing Christ and an easy way to transition into sharing the gospel.
I have never seen anything like the FAITH strategy in my entire life. The strength of FAITH is that it channels people into small groups of Sunday school so there is a way of following up on decisions.
After nine weeks, we had made 66 visits. We had presented the gospel 39 times and had seen 13 people give their lives to Christ. Only five of those people are from the Waimea area, the rest are from Maui, Hilo, Kona and the mainland. FAITH members simply share Jesus wherever they have an opportunity.
Following are examples of how God has been working:
— Jeanette Case is a single mom in our church whose children live in Kona with their father. She called her oldest daughter on the phone and asked if she could practice the FAITH presentation with her. Her daughter had been to church but had not been open to giving her life to Christ. At the end of the presentation, Case asked her daughter if she would like to receive God’s forgiveness and heaven by committing her life to Christ. The daughter said, “Yes,” and Case lead her to commit her life to Christ.
— Suey Smallwood works with an emergency assistance group in town. She says when she used to ask people if they were Christians, she always got a “Yes.” Then she began to use the FAITH key question: “In your personal opinion, what do you understand it takes for a person to go to heaven?” All of a sudden, doors opened for her to talk more effectively about Jesus. Recently, in a single day she shared the gospel with two women who both committed their lives to Christ.
— Our FAITH teams go out each Sunday evening committed to minister to someone before they return to the church. Recently a team made a quick visit in a home because the family had guests. They decided to use the time to go to the local Dairy Queen and conduct the FAITH opinion poll. The last question is the key question about heaven. They talked to three young men, and Joe Gallegos made the gospel presentation. All three gave their lives to Christ. Gallegos has been a Christian for only two years, but God is using him in a mighty way.
The testimonies go on and on. What is happening in Waimea can happen in your town if you are willing get started through a FAITH clinic. You will have freedom in sharing the gospel.
I end with one other confession: As a pastor, I used to do almost all the ministry and witnessing for the church. There were a few people who visited, but visitation wasn’t focused or proactive. Now, each Sunday evening the FAITH teams go out and do what I used to do.
During the week, FAITH members are doing what I used to do alone. For the first time in my ministry, I can say I see disciples being made.

Goslen is pastor of First Baptist Church, Waimea, Hawaii, and second vice president of Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention. Reprinted with permission from the Hawaii-Pacific Baptist, newsjournal of the Hawaii-Pacific Baptist Convention.

    About the Author

  • Ted Goslen