March marks the season of HOPE. As believers, our hope is in the resurrected Christ. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy, He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you (1 Peter 1:3-4).
Below is a great testimony from Dr. Roger Ferguson of First Baptist Church in Owasso, Oklahoma, of some desperate people looking for hope and finding it because someone was available and willing to share the hope found in Christ.
FAITH Evangelism is a great tool for mature believers to be encouraged by and to present to others for their encouragement toward the Gospel. We teach people to memorize the outline exactly as it is presented. Then they can match it to their personality and customize it as the Spirit leads and the situation demands. As a leader, I try to model the presentation with precise detail.
One night my team knocked on a door, and a thirty-two-year-old man answered. He had visited the church and invited us into his home. We noticed a "For Sale" sign in the front yard and discovered they were moving to Houston. The conversation turned to the things of God, and I asked him the exploratory question, "In your personal opinion what do you think it takes for a person to go to Heaven?" It was clear from his response that he hoped God would accept him because he was a good person. I asked him if I could share how the Bible answered that question, and he was eager to hear.
I shared the outline and all was going well until I came to the "H." As a pastor, I'd taught and shared the outline hundreds of times, but tonight I had "brain block." I could not remember what the "H" stood for. I was embarrassed, and as I looked at my learners, they stared back at me with blank looks. Many of you can relate to my panic.
Finally, I blurted out that the "H" stands for "HOPE." In Christ, God gives you hope for a bright future here and in the future which is in Heaven. My learners looked startled. I was confused and I didn't understand myself! The couple who had opened their home to us looked at each other, and then at us as if to ask, "Do you know something we don't?"
They didn't become Christians that night. They visited for another month before moving to Texas. We didn't hear from them again.
Eight months later, I got a letter with a Houston return address. I opened it. You guessed it. It was from the couple I'd "botched" the FAITH outline with months earlier. They explained to me that they had become Christians at a church in Texas. They were growing in their marriage and were plugged into a dynamic Sunday School class.
They told us that during our visit, when I botched the outline, something spurred them to take the Gospel seriously. You see, before our team knocked on their door, they were talking about the dismal state of their marriage. Baggage from past hurts, a pending relocation, poor choices in finances, and a dozen other things led them to pursue a "peaceful" divorce once their move was done. The husband had just remarked to his wife, "There is no hope for us and we both know it, so let's call it quits now while we can still be friends." She agreed and said, "As far as she was concerned there wasn't hope for them."
Then we arrived and told them, in the FAITH outline, that there was a God who loved them and through Christ they could have HOPE. What we thought was a brain freeze was actually a God-appointed moment used to re-ignite hope in their hearts. Through Christ, that hope has become reality, and they are rebuilding a marriage on the firm foundation of Jesus.
Please know that God is in control and He is still in the business of divine appointments, through caring Christians, to give hope to a lost and hurting world. Will you be available to Him? If so, God may use you to bring HOPE to someone during this season of great hope.
What are you "hoping" for during this Resurrection season? Is there something in your life that you think is impossible or is about to crumble in around you? What are you basing your hope on?
Many of us have had hopes and dreams for many years, and we wonder why God hasn't answered our prayers. But the hopes that God has for us come before our own hopes and wishes. If you will trust Him, you will find out that His plans are always the absolute best for us.
His plans were absolutely best for this couple, but they had to find their hope in Him. Do you need a "resurrection" of hope in your life?
In Jeremiah 29:11-14, God declares: "For I know the plans I have for you" — [this is] the Lord's declaration — "plans for [your] welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you."
Believe — call upon — seek with your whole heart — trust — and know that He is God. Wow, what a blessed time of the year. Christ is risen — yes, risen indeed! And He is our HOPE!
Bobby H. Welch is Strategist for Global Evangelical Relations with the SBC Executive Committee, former president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and originator of the FAITH evangelism strategy.