Do you ever wonder if your efforts to present the gospel are really worth it — especially, if you don't see immediate results? Well, if you've ever had doubts, just read the testimony of Eric Tichenor from Richland Creek Community Church in Wake Forest, North Carolina. It should inspire you to start searching for new opportunities.
As I step back and look at my life, I am amazed because I am living it for the Lord. That's not something I could say four years ago, but today I can say that. It started about five and a half years ago with three people knocking on my door. I didn't know the Word of God, and I didn't grow up in a Christian home. The only knowledge I had of John 3:16 was that guy with the rainbow haircut at football games. That's all. It never even crossed my mind to go look it up in the Bible. I couldn't have quoted that verse to save my life. It struck me as they shared the gospel with me that night my reaction to Christianity and my reaction to the gospel was, "You know what? It just doesn't make any sense. It just sounds so stupid and foolish to me."
At the time, I was at a point in my life where I didn't know if God was real or not. But then, I saw my wife going through some dramatic changes in her life, and I had no idea what it was. She was going to church and having a great time — her life was being transformed.
My response was, "Oh well! I got the house free on Sunday morning!"
I was not searching out God, but a year and a half later I went to the pastor (one of the three who came to visit that night) to see if he could help me with my marriage. I responded to the gospel that day, and I'm here to say that my life has been transformed by the Word of God.
When I graduated from college in 1990, I swore that I would never, ever, ever go to school again. Well, the Lord had different plans. I'm currently in my second year of seminary at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. There are many times I've asked: "Why am I here?" But I know that's what the Lord's plan is for me. His plan for me is different than His plan for you, because God prepared it for me. But the plan that God prepared for you is just as special and just as important.
I was part of God's plan for the evangelism team that day. What if they didn't walk in His plan that day? What if they were tired, or had a headache and didn't feel like doing evangelism or going visiting that night? When I called the pastor up to talk about the problems my wife and I were having, what if he decided, "That's a messy situation, I just don't want any part of that." I wouldn't be here today. I wouldn't be in seminary. I don't know if I would've been saved between then and now. I have no way of knowing, but I know God prepared me and the pastor for that time.
As I mentioned, I'm a student at Southeastern Seminary. Lord willing, and if we are approved, my family and I are set to deploy to Greece in the fall of 2006. It's really amazing. My parents are both lost, and they say, "You're going to sell your house and your cars and go off to this far off country?" I respond, "Yes," because God's plans are better than my plans. The things that I had in my life and the way I tried to live my life before didn't really work out for me. I cannot even image where I would be or where my family would be right now without Christ.
There is no doubt, there is no question, that all Christians are called to share the gospel. Everybody knows that and has heard that. I'm convinced that if we are not fulfilling the desires of the Lord, if we are not obedient to Him, we are going to miss out on the joy of living the Christian life.
Have you ever had the feeling that you really needed to present the gospel to a friend or family member, and you didn't do it because you were afraid? Then get trained on how to share your faith, and the next time that happens, think about it. Remind yourself: "You know what? This could be a guy or girl who will go out into the mission field with his family. More importantly, this is a person who will go to hell without Christ."
As we approach this holiday season, the best way to say "Thank You, Lord" and truly celebrate Thanksgiving is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Bobby H. Welch is president of the Southern Baptist Convention, pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.