TITLE: Reaching Friends 7/18/14
By Richard McCaw
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Sam was an extremely talented musician who could finger the keyboard while smiling into your face. A rare breed who never took lessons but who had been gifted in that way. I had met him at camp years before and grown close to his family. Visiting his home, I often watched him twist and turn to the rhythmic chords he strummed on his guitar.
One weekend, at a Youth for Christ retreat in Montego Bay two girls swimming in the open sea were being overcome by dangerously high waves. He quickly went to their rescue and saved them both. A boat came quickly and took both girls in, but forgot Sam, who too exhausted struggled toward shore but was overcome and drowned. A year before, he had lost his parents in a terrible car crash on the St. Thomas road to Kingston. I remember him weeping over their coffin at the funeral. I had lost three great friends within a year which was also a great loss to the church.
Let us remember the Master’s words, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” The time to win souls is NOW! Many are willing and waiting to hear the good news of deliverance from the power of Satan, if only someone would show them the way.
Believe it or not, some oppose and ridicule this approach to personal evangelism, preferring to espouse what they label ‘lifestyle evangelism.’ “It is wrong and discourteous,” they say, “to button-hole and force the gospel down someone’s throat. If one lives a committed Christian life before the unsaved, your lifestyle will eventually draw them to Christ.” However, listen to this!
Large electric fans whirred near wooden columns inside the building. People on the long wooden benches sat tightly close to each other and every seat inside had been taken. It was a warm Sunday night when my mother took my sister and me to church. Bethany Gospel Hall on Hagley Park Road near Half-Way-Tree was a small congregation of Christian believers of the Brethren persuasion. Every night, a series of meetings, called a ‘crusade,’ attracted crowds for an entire week. Outside the church building many sat on chairs while others stood listening.
Harold Wildish, an English evangelist, tall and impressive, always captivated his audience. With a glint in his eye, he would sometimes rock on his legs this way and that. “God is a God of love,” he would say, “but also a God of justice! Behold, therefore, the goodness and severity of God!”
Near the end of the closing hymn, he looked across the vast sea of faces and gave an invitation, “If you are here tonight, and have not received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior,” then, as he paused, he gently added: “Why not leave your seat and come forward so we may pray with you?”
Bob Lewis, a schoolmate, a little older than I, was standing in the middle of the congregation. I walked across, stood beside him and whispered: “Bob, would you like to go forward? I’ll go with you!”
Those large rabbit-like front teeth, and his large wide eyes still loom clearly in my mind. “Yeh, man, why not?” he answered eagerly, and so we went forward to the front of the church.
Bob not only received Jesus Christ, but developed into a strong witness for the Lord. Later, he attended a Bible Institute in the U.S, and became the first black student and was elected as the president of the student body. I witnessed the transforming miracle of another soul brought into the kingdom of God! He later completed his degree in Christian psychology. I had been led to another soul! According to the Word of God, “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God!”
While we must never employ physical force or psychological manipulation to compel men, Christ and His disciples certainly taught that we ought to go out into the highways and hedges and by every force of argument or logic, anointed by His Spirit, persuade everyone to follow Him. The Master Himself confronted sinners with their sins and offered hope of deliverance. Do not forget the woman of Samaria whom Christ confronted! She in turn confronted the men in her life with the message, “Come, see a man that told me all things that I ever did. Is not this the Christ?” Then, many believed on Him because of her testimony.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother gave him a verbal message “We have found the Messiah!” and then led him to Christ. Then, the next day Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote - Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph!” All were converted through the verbal preaching or testimony of someone bold enough to approach them. No one watched anyone’s lifestyle for weeks or months before being saved!
One day Jesus encouraged His disciples, “Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!” Then, he added: “I sent you to reap!” Therefore, He expects us to go among the multitudes and gently win them into the kingdom of God. His heart is open wide to receive all who will trust Him to deliver them from the bondage of their sins. As the friend of sinners, He stands at the door of every believing community longing to use them to demonstrate His power.
Even right now, moved with compassion, He watches the multitudes, who are wandering like sheep without a shepherd. He longs to hold them in His arms, to gently lead them into His light. But He needs every believer to be a channel of His light and glory to them.
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