January 2007 is here — already! How did you do on last year's resolutions? Have you quit even trying to make them? I totally believe in making resolutions because it makes me think about what is important in my life and what I need to change. Do I always make it to the next year? A lot of times, no, but I start, I focus, and I begin.
I challenge you to make a resolution/covenant with our Lord to do better in reaching people and sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with your world — not everybody else's world, just those the Lord puts in front of you. To do that you will have to have your "spiritual antenna" up and working. Calvin Naylor, pastor of Walnut Grove Baptist Church in Russellville, Kentucky, did just that. The opportunities came from strange places, but he was ready and he is training his church to be ready.
I am a pastor of a small but growing, rural church. Since starting our evangelism training two years ago, we have led our association in baptisms (this is not to boast, but to thank God for how He is moving and blessing our church). I just want others to be blessed as I have been when I read other evangelism testimonies.
Every time we begin a semester of training, amazing things happen. We always look forward to several divine appointments.
One year the video player stopped playing. We could not get it to run. We decided to go out and visit instead. While walking out of the church there was a man in our parking lot with his car running to pick up his children. He was just about ready to leave. We had time to share with him, and he prayed to receive Christ. When we got back that night, the video player worked fine. It never messed up again. God used that interruption so we would get out in time to meet this father.
One morning I came to church to check my emails. I was in a hurry so I needed to leave as soon as I could. When I tried to get my emails, my Internet server was not running correctly, so I had to call for help (another interruption in my life begins). When I called the helpline, I was told to call a different number. After getting the right number, I had to wait over five minutes to get assistance. I was getting very frustrated, and I almost hung up. Then a lady came on the phone to help.
As she was taking me through the steps to fix my problem, she asked me, "How is your day?" I said, "Everything is fine except for this problem." I asked her, "Where are you from?" She said, "India." She told me that she was in India at that moment. She continued to fix the problem and after she fixed it, I felt led to ask her if she was a believer. She told me she believed in all of the religions.
I then asked her, "Could I share with you what the Bible says?" I was surprised when she said yes. I told her to look at her hand, and I went through the FAITH evangelism outline with her. I then asked her if she would like to receive Christ. She said, yes, but she needed to take a moment to look it over. I guess she had written all of it down. After a minute she came back on the phone and said that she could not talk any longer because she had to answer another call, but she would study what I shared.
I said, "Can you take just a few more seconds?" She hesitantly said yes. I told her that she could ask Jesus in heart right now. I asked her if she wanted to do that and she said yes. My heart was pounding as I led her in a prayer on the phone.
Without hesitation she prayed aloud the prayer as I led her. After she prayed, I asked her if she believed Jesus came into her heart. She said, "Yes." I said, "Would you pray with me, 'Lord, thank you right now for saving me.'" She did and then thanked me for sharing with her. I told her I would like to keep in touch and get more information to her. Although I cannot contact her, she said she has my email to contact me. When I got off the phone, I literally wept with joy for several minutes, and I am not even an emotional person. All I can say is that God moved me!
God is amazing. He used a moment of interruption and frustration in my life to put me in contact with a woman from India so that I could tell her how to know Jesus. When Jesus said go into all the world, I never thought that I could do it by telephone.
If you are not comfortable sharing your faith — get trained. Pastors, your people are waiting for you to lead and encourage them to be trained in sharing their faith. What better New Year's resolution than to tell the Lord you will do more and do better to reach people with the Gospel of Christ.
God bless you for trying, and may our Lord give you the best year of your life as you continue to serve Him.
Bobby H. Welch is former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, retired pastor of First Baptist Church, Daytona Beach, Florida, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.