The other area that I found revelatory was the truth of personal evangelism. I don’t know about you, but I’ve always thought that ‘go into all nations, preaching in my name’ meant just that. I have often been envious of the Christian who’ll sit next to you and ask, “Have you heard the Good News?”, and I’ve repented to God for not having that level of boldness. I’ve also experienced the other side of that coin. Our associate pastor shared his example of (before he was saved) hiding with his father-in-law from door-to-door evangelists while they sent the mother-in-law to say that they weren’t home. I have always strived to be somewhere in the middle of what I see as two extremes: bold enough to share, but discerning enough to not annoy. Though I’m not one to plop down next to strangers and begin to talk about the Lord, and, short of a serious anointing, I’m not one for door-to-door evangelism, I have become quite masterful at steering any conversation back to God and His goodness in my life.
Having said that, I’ve found myself in a quandary for the last several years. My neighbor is considered the “Miss Cravitz” of the neighborhood, for those of you who might remember the quintessential busybody from the sitcom “Bewitched.” I have tried on many occasions to witness to her amidst her dependence on prescriptive, mind-altering drugs, an atheist or agnostic husband, and a (consequently, I’m sure) dysfunctional family. Last year, I “shook the dust from my feet” in sheer frustration as I watched Christians, including myself, surround her with prayer and with tangible blessings when her husband decided to leave after 20+ years of marriage. $1500 into the divorce proceedings, with Bible in hand at court, they decided to patch things up. It wasn’t long after that when she returned to her old ways, turning her back on the gospel and ending those foxhole prayers. This year, her husband lived through passing out on a motorcycle, flipping over it and onto the grass (which was nothing short of the hand of God), and sustaining a fracture on one of his vertebrate. I was livid as she gave praises to the motorcycle’s manufacturer, her medications, and his (unsaved) buddies for helping them get through this unscathed, but I did manage to get out a “we’ll be praying for you guys” through my anger.
So, back to Wednesday night, where we began to talk about Phillip. Phillip’s ministry is not as extensive as Paul’s, but we are led to believe that he witnessed to many, some that the status quo would have considered as unworthy of the gospel. One of these was the Ethiopian official traveling through the desert. He was reading the Word without understanding, but he was hungry. And without further delay of the point, this must be our prayer: not to go around feeding our pearls to swine, but to pray about the Holy Spirit’s guidance in leading us to those that are hungry. This revelation eased my anger and truly spoke to me about why I was getting nowhere with my neighbor, and constantly beating my head against a wall about being ineffective and living in vain before her and other neighbors whose lives are far from God’s will for them. I will have to back up and take heed to the Holy Spirit’s leading. The free gift of salvation is far too precious to have to beg anyone to take it; why waste my valuable energy on people who are content to pave a road to Hell? My husband and I talk all the time about the number of needs that come across the kids’ ministry’s prayer list at this time of year: pray for my son who has been diagnosed with _____, or pray for my daughter who’s struggling in school, or my child who’s being influenced by the wrong crowd, etc. I’m not belittling the needs, but instead pointing out that we rarely see pray for my child’s salvation. The truth of the matter is that until the people we witness to ask Christ to enter their hearts, those other needs are farther down the list. So, I’ll continue to lift up each struggling family, each needy student, and all my unsaved neighbors. But until the Holy Spirit says differently, I’ll pray for what they really need—salvation.