During a three-year-long renovation of our 120-year-old house, my wife and I had been privileged to tell many workers about Jesus.
Many times men would show up on the job site and explain that they had served time in jail or had a past police record. A lot of these men have lived very checkered and rough lives and seemed incredibly grateful when I would give them a chance to use their skills. We helped several acquire good, permanent jobs with construction crews I happen to know.
It was inspiring to watch an old house be brought back from the brink of getting condemned – and at the same lives were restored as we led people to Christ on the job site. Many of the workers we hired eagerly responded to the gospel. Some even returned tools they had, “borrowed,” and the men’s changed lives were often vividly seen.
James, however, was different.
Explaining the gospel to this man was not easy. He always had an excuse or would quickly object when we would steer the conversation toward Jesus. Earlier in his life, he had been involved in a type of cult, so that when we did talk about Christ, James would often have a twisted perspective about God or salvation.
My wife and eventually begin to build the friendship not only out of a desire to share the gospel but also because showing love to this person was just the right thing to do. One day James came by to tells us about a doctor appointment he had and news about a potentially life-threatening illness. My desire to see James come to know Christ became more urgent.
Evangelism must be a priority to all Christians
Over four years, I talked with James about spiritual matters dozens of times. Often, it seemed like I was wasting my time, but that little voice inside of me – the Holy Spirit – seemed to say, “Alex, invest in this person. James is important to me, so he should be important to you.”
But I have found that when we pray, stay prepared, and when we are attuned to the Spirit’s guidance, God will place before us ideal situations in which to plant seeds of gospel truth. How I thank God for the day last fall when James stopped by, looked me in the eye and said, “I’m ready.” In the same room where we had seemingly endless conversations, James bowed his head to accept Christ.
It has been said that “The church is one organization that exists primarily for the benefit of its non-members.” John Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church and one of history’s greatest Christian leaders) said, “We have nothing to do but the saving of souls.”
In discussing salvation people will often have questions or even set forth objections. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, because respectful conversation provides ample opportunity to restate and clarify the wonderful news of God’s love through Jesus.
Charles H. Spurgeon (1834-1892) was a leader of the past who urged the church not to let one lost person die, “unwarned and unprayed for.” We, too, must never forget that evangelism is the assignment Christ handed to all believers in every era (c.f. Mark 16:15; Matthew 28:18-20).
(Editor's Note: This has been condensed from the full article found in the Fall 2020 issue of Engage: The Biannual. To read this and more articles on discipleship and evangelism, click HERE to sign up for free!)