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Silent witnesses stymie the Gospel


ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–A recent USA TODAY article described the problem law enforcement agencies have with uncooperative witnesses to murders and other violent crime. The rate of solved murders throughout the United States is down because of the silence of witnesses.

Is there a valid comparison here with the church? Are salvations and baptisms down because of the silence of witnesses?

According to Jake Roudkovski, professor of evangelism at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, only 5 percent of believers ever lead one person to Christ. If this is the case, silence is killing our friends.

The population of the United States and Canada is 332 million. According to the North American Mission Board, more than 250 million people in these two countries do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ. Does that number include someone you know?

In the USA TODAY article, an FBI representative said criminals have created a climate of fear to silence witnesses.

I wonder how many times I’ve heard the same phrase used as the reason Christians don’t witness. Fear is a powerful psychological tool.


A high school friend of mine was radically saved. The next Sunday he had a whole row of unbelieving friends at church. He told them about how “cool” Jesus was and invited them to church. Several of his friends surrendered their lives to Christ because of his witness.

Someone asked me why this young man was such an effective witness. My answer was simple. No one told him witnessing was hard. He just did what was natural. Something great happened to him and he told someone else about it. Case closed.

A simple definition of witnessing is bragging on Jesus. Jesus called us to be His witnesses. We are to tell what He does. More specifically, you are to tell what He has done for you.

A man named Tyler was the driver of the shuttle I took to a meeting at the North American Mission Board. He was a young man with a story.

He attends a local church in Atlanta. When I asked him a simple question, “What have you been doing with the Lord lately?” I got the rest of the story.

This fine young man has a less than exemplary past, but he has a mother and stepfather who love him. More than that, he has a mother and stepfather who love Jesus.

Through our conversation, I found out Tyler had never surrendered his life to Christ. He was doing many things Christians do, but he was not a believer.

After sharing the Gospel with him, Tyler said he didn’t think he was ready to take the step of commitment yet. I asked why. He said he didn’t know but he just wasn’t ready.

As we pulled up to the doors of NAMB, I asked one last question. “Tyler, do you think it was a coincidence that yesterday your mother and stepfather talked to you about the Lord and today you pick up two preachers on your first shuttle? Do you really think it was a coincidence, or is God trying to get your attention?”

Tyler decided it was God speaking to him. In the circular driveway in front of NAMB, Tyler surrendered his life to Christ.

For every Tyler in my life, I wonder how many people will never have the opportunity to hear about eternal life because of my silence.

The silence of witnesses does not just stymie the efforts of police. The silence of the church stymies the Gospel.
Keith Manuel is an evangelism associate on the Louisiana Baptist Convention’s evangelism & church growth team.