Friday, March 23, 2007
I've been away in Winnipeg teaching in a YWAM Discipleship Training School(see their blog here). One of my former students is now the director, along with his wife, of the work up there. They have an evident heart for the city, their community, our mission and the church. I had a great time sharing with the students and God led me in a way that I have not really experienced before. Teaching in a DTS has always been something I'd like to do but never really had the opportunity until this past year. Jimmy, Aaron, our friend Josh and I went to teach the students in Bishop, CA this past Fall and had a blast. The DTS is a great idea. What better way for younger people to catch the vision of ministry than to bring them along with you for a few months?
As I prayed about what to share with this class, I sensed very little instruction to share any of the teaching I've developed. I love teaching. I love the process of tackling an issue and trying to put the truth around the matter into understandable language. I love communicating how much God loves people. I love it all.
My topic was "Evangelism" and as I prepared, I seemed to be directed to just share me with this group. Not my nifty thinking about evangelism, but just to share stories about my life. I did share 2 prepared lectures and we watched a movie together...but the rest of the time was discussion and story telling. It was thoroughly enjoyable. And isn't that the heart behind what true evangelism is? Sharing our lives and the good things that God has done in us with one another. To encourage one another down the road.
The word "evangelism" comes from the Greek word that means "the reward given to a messenger that brings good news." It's also the root for our word "angel." We shared together about the disconnect in our minds between our everyday life and "evangelism". Why do we think that way? It's our pleasure to be able to carry with us the good news about Christ...into our world. Not the romantic image of the missionary leaving for foreign shores, of course, that's included but what about carrying Christ to your children, spouses, friends, co-workers, neighbors, fellow church members, the poor, the lonely, etc.
I almost don't like to use general terms anymore like "the poor" or "the lonely" because that conjures romantic images to our minds. We disconnect that from where we live, convince ourselves that you have to go somewhere else, be something else and do something else to reach "those people." As if that was for someone else, not us. But, as Christians, our ministry is to Christ...the real Jesus. And how do we minister to Christ? We feed those without food, give drink to the thirsty, clothe those who do not have clothes, visit the sick, visit the prisoner and welcome the stranger.
Who in your life is hungry? Who is thirsty? Who needs clothes? Who is sick? Who is in prison? Who is a stranger? If you will, take some time to write these things down and put actual names beside them. We all know them. We all have ready access to them. Pray for these names and ask God to lead you in not only ministering to these needs, not only ministering to these people but in doing so, have a mindset that you are actually, not poetically, ministering to Christ himself.
If we cannot bring the good news to one another, how will we ever bring it to a broken hurting world? It starts where we are and ripples ever outward. Do not wait for whatever it is before you commit to become Christ's messenger. It's as close as the person next to you. "Let's have coffee.", "How can I pray for you?", "What can I do to help you?", "Can I share my story with you?" These and only these will change the world.