RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–A young man in China heard about Jesus Christ from a friend and decided to follow Him as risen Lord and Savior.
But first he had a question for his Christian friend: “Who told you about Jesus?”
The friend told about the believers who had led him to faith, but the young man wasn’t quite satisfied.
“Well, who told them?” he persisted.
The conversation continued along that line until the Christian friend realized something anew: The life, death and resurrection of Christ are the most important events in history, but the Good News still reaches hearts and minds primarily by word of mouth. One person shares with another -– day by day, generation by generation.
“Relational introductions [to the Gospel] must go all the way back to Jesus’ time,” he later reflected. “We all owe our thanks to somebody before us.”
Think about that. Because the earliest followers of Christ -– those who walked with Him personally –- faithfully spread the Gospel in the days after He rose from the dead, that same message is now sweeping China in one of the greatest ongoing expansions in church history.
America needs the Good News, too. “Tell His Story” is the theme for this year’s Annie Armstrong Easter Offering for North American missions. The offering (goal: $56 million) will support thousands of Southern Baptist missionaries assigned by the North American Mission Board as they reach out to the estimated 244 million spiritually lost people in the United States and Canada.
But they can’t do it alone. North American missions, like international missions, is the task of every believer. And it’s personal. Telling His story is telling your story. How has Christ’s resurrected life changed your life? How is He living through you? You can’t share what you don’t have.
The historical case for the resurrection of Christ is solid and compelling. But many people would reject it even if they were presented with enough hard evidence to satisfy a district attorney. The evidence of your changed life, however, is harder to refute. If you love someone others despise, serve someone others oppress, listen to someone others ignore, you will soon find someone who wants to know why you are different.
Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church, observes that the people most receptive to spiritual things tend to fall into two categories: those in transition (new marriage, new job, new school, new town) and those under tension (illness, marriage problems, divorce, financial crisis, alcohol/drugs, problem children, etc.). That covers a big chunk of the population. Sure, they may mock your Christian faith the first time they hear it. But they’ll respond to your life when they see Jesus in you -– and sense Him reaching out to them.
The early Christians shook the Roman world with their courageous testimony about Jesus -– and the testimony of their radically changed lives. In our day, Chinese Christians and Muslim-background followers of Jesus are shaking their worlds. So are hosts of local believers and mission workers in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They don’t just believe in the resurrection; they live it.
“Please pray with us that the Gospel will be shared broadly through the Easter season,” asks a Christian in a major Chinese city. “Very few Chinese have any knowledge or understanding of Easter. Pray that during this time believers will clearly proclaim the message of a risen Savior who takes away the sins of the world to their family, friends, neighbors and coworkers. Pray that literally thousands of people in our city will ‘see Jesus’ for the first time this Easter season.”
Let’s pray the same prayer for our own cities this Easter. It’s time for many more of our neighbors to see the risen Savior in us.