"Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from heaven is about to break upon us,
to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Evangelism 101

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a missionary (or better yet, a missionary teacher).  I loved reading books about young women who went to foreign countries or to poor mountain communities to share the love of Jesus.  I would dream about what it would be like to live so far from home; so far from everything familiar.  But, alas...reality was that I would get homesick staying overnight at a friend's house!  And somewhere along the line, that dream faded into the background.

But it never really went away.  A couple of weeks ago, a friend asked me what I desire...what my dreams are.  At the time, I wasn't sure what to say.  I have a very hard time seeing beyond today.  I struggle with dreaming big.  I'm sure there's a lot wrapped into that; especially the fact that I am still actively parenting a child with huge challenges.  But regardless, she wouldn't let me explain it away.  Instead, she suggested I pray about it and ask God to reveal what my dreams and desires are...what is hidden deep in my heart. 

As I spent time praying, God showed me this desire to be a missionary has never gone away.  And really, that's not such a surprise. I knew that dream was there all along.  But sadly, even after being a Christ-follower for so many years, I still struggle with thinking that "evangelism" is a program, or that "missionary" is a vocation.  I know better than that.

Last night Steve and I went to a Bible teaching.  The passage we read was Exodus 18.  In this passage we see Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, come visit him.  Jethro saw how busy Moses was settling disputes among the people, and he introduced the concept of "judge" to Moses.  Our teacher talked about how Moses, in his position as judge, was a "type" of Christ.

After reading the first part of the passage, however, our teacher stated, "That's evangelism 101."  You see, Jethro, Moses' father-in-law, was the priest of Midian, a pagan nation.  Moses could easily have condemned Jethro, pointing out to him how wicked he was to serve a pagan god.  He could have called attention to all the evil practices of the Midianite nation.  He could have refused to let him see his daughter (Moses' wife) and grandsons.  Instead, when Jethro asked Moses about his welfare, "Moses told his father-in-law about all the hardships they had experienced along the way (out of Egypt) and how the Lord had rescued his people from all their troubles." (Ex. 18:8).  What was Jethro's response?  "Praise the Lord, for he has rescued you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh.  Yes, he has rescued Israel from the powerful hand of Egypt!  I know now that the Lord is greater than all other gods, because he rescued his people from the oppression of the proud Egyptians." (Ex. 18:10,11). (italics added)

Evangelism 101...sharing with others how faithful and good God is, not how evil and wicked they are. 

So I'm still praying about my desire to be a missionary in another locale.  (Watch out Steve!  Who knows where God might ask us to go!)  But in reality, I am a missionary.  Because His heart is beating in me and His Spirit is giving me life, I can share His love and faithfulness with others no matter where I live.  No fancy words needed.  No master's degree in evangelism.  Just an obedient heart, willing to share how God is working in my life. Not pointing out the faults in others, but pointing up at the One who alone can give Life.