Personal Evangelism; May 17, 2023

Proverbs 11:30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
and he who wins souls is wise.

I have heard this verse used many times to encourage personal evangelism. It may well be the origin of the phrase, “soul winner.” However, the Japanese flips the order of the second half of this verse, making it, “The person who has wisdom wins the hearts of men.” (There is no gender expressed there.) That’s not at all to say that personal evangelism is a bad idea, but rather that wisdom will attract the hearts of the people around you. Actually, “winning souls” is a very humanistic way of looking at things, as though it were a contest that we win by our efforts. We are indeed to be witnesses, and that is a major reason the Holy Spirit has been given to us, (Acts 1:8) but we can’t save anyone at all by our own efforts. What is required of us is availability, the willingness to be on the spot or embarrassed or whatever. Sadly, many if not most Christians are not that way. This is quite apart from the gift of Evangelist. Most classes in evangelism to which I’ve been exposed have been taught by people who had that gift, and the major result was a guilt trip for the students. It’s not at all bad to be trained in how to give a logical presentation of the Gospel. That’s in line with what Peter famously said: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” (1 Peter 3:15) However, that’s not the same thing as “talking to a florist about the Rose of Sharon, or a waitress about the Bread of Life,” which are both examples I have heard repeatedly in evangelism classes, and they are the kind of thing an Evangelist might do. Being a witness is being an authentic disciple, living out in obedience the hope we have in Christ. People will want to know more if we do that. If we are available, God will give us opportunities to share Christ, and we are to make the most of them. (Colossians 4:5)

Just two days ago I was having physical therapy for the wrist I broke back in January, and without it being intentional on my part, the conversation developed into a full-throated presentation of salvation by grace through faith. My therapist and a nurse were directly part of the conversation, but probably others overheard as well. I actually felt hesitation when I could tell the conversation was headed in that direction, but I made the choice to go ahead, and it ended up feeling wonderful. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I do NOT have the gift of Evangelist! I am a Teacher, and statistically such are not common as missionaries. However, I serve in the land where I was born, and I seek to be available for however God wants to use me. I don’t have many more therapy sessions left, since my physical progress is good, so I want to be sensitive to any opportunities the Lord might give me to cement His words in the hearts of those people. I can’t save them, but I would be thrilled if He chooses to use me toward that end.

Father, thank You for using me, often enough in spite of myself. Help me recognize and make full use of every opportunity You give me, so that as many as possible may be brought from death to life, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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1 Response to Personal Evangelism; May 17, 2023

  1. Pingback: Personal Evangelism—Virtual Vitamins | By the Mighty Mumford

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