“Preach the gospel always and if necessary, use words.” St Francis
The four of us boldly trail behind our Evangelism Explosion leader into the bus depot to find someone to talk to about the Lord. This is our first time out. We are prepared; we’ve memorized the questions, the answers and the verses. We’ve written our testimonies so that we will be able to deliver them well.
I am still a little uncertain about delivering mine since the grade I got when I wrote it was a C. I remember that now as I walk into the bus station. I see that glaring red C on my paper as though I have it in front of me at this moment, not a C+, not a B-, a CCCCCCC! I never get a C on anything! How can someone get a C on their testimony anyway? The red writing at the bottom of my paper explained that I hadn’t included enough detail about my life before accepting Christ nor contrasted it adequately with my life after accepting Christ. Well, it was hard to expound on my sinful life before I was six and fairly difficult to describe the transformation from being a regular six year old missionary kid, to being a saved six year old missionary kid.
Perhaps my testimony is only worthy of a C, but here I am, prepared to share it and the Gospel with some unsuspecting soul in the Regina, Saskatchewan bus station. Looking around I spot several likely prospects, people standing alone, looking bored. Our leader walks purposefully forward, my heart is pounding. I am excited to see who God will lead us to and eager, although nervous also, to use the things we’ve learned. Our leader keeps walking, right past the people I’d noticed, past all the people, but never pauses. Without a break in our step we walk, single file, like a regiment on patrol, completely around the room and directly back outside. We never stop to talk to anyone.
St. Francis was right, we preach the gospel with our lives by how we live, but he was also right that sometimes, even often, it is necessary to use words. We walked into that bus depot, a nice group of clean cut Bible School students, obedient, respectful. There was no reason to find fault with our behavior. However, in this situation it was necessary to use WORDS to evangelize. Evangelism is a lifestyle AND evangelism is done on purpose.
Actually, this idea did not originate with St. Francis, but with the One he followed, Jesus Christ.
”In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”
“He said to them, ‘Go into all the world and PREACH the good news to all creation’.”
Some of us go out into all the world, but most of us are sharing the gospel with people around us, people who know us and our lives. Whether it’s overseas or here at home, or in the bus station, to share the good news of salvation with the people around us, we must both live it and speak it. One without the other is like a bottle with no message inside. Either you have an excellent life but with no words to explain it, the message is lost, or, you have wonderful words but without a life that demonstrates them, the message is lost.
Peter said it this way:
”Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”
”But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Even someone who gets a C on her testimony can share the good news. We all can. We just have to remember that when we walk into the bus station looking the way we should, acting the way we should and knowing all the right words, we still have to stop and speak those words to someone before any evangelism can happen.
All Scripture References NIV
1 Peter 2:12
1 Peter 3:15a
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