This blog is meant to be a help for those who want to do more evangelism.
It could get a little long winded, so i’ll add the occasional random picture.
I’ve been asked many times things like, “How does one evangelize?” or, “How do I ‘do evangelism’?” as if I am a guru on the subject. In reality I’m more of a Forrest Gump on the subject, in that I simply do it whether I’m doing it well or not. In concept, it’s very simple to me. The “how” doesn’t matter nearly as much as the “why.”
Disclaimer: I don’t know the “how” but I do believe I have observed some behaviors of people who tend to do more evangelism. So, here I will write down some of my observations. Do with them what you will, but I hope this helps.
My number one observation is that if someone believes God exists, and then by simple logic an action is required. Like if I said, “Your house is on fire!!” simple logic dictates that something happens… You either try to put out the fire, run away, or call 911. Something will happen due to your knowledge of the fire. Occasionally, perhaps, someone will sit there in stunned amazement and watch their house burn without doing a single thing. But, normally, knowledge of a thing will almost inherently move a person to action. A car is coming! = stop; I got engaged = celebrate; I made you a sandwich = eat… GOD EXISTS = ?
I was a teenager when I became aware of the existence of an all-powerful creator. From then on it was an inescapable fact. My first reaction was not very positive. In the beginning it was, GOD EXISTS = ANGER/FEAR/CONFUSION. I became obsessive about the idea and the implications. If God exists, and he is the source of all life and all that is good, then I am in trouble. I became immediately angry. Since God exists, there are so many endless implications. They need to be thought through.
Assuming that most people reading this are already Christians, I do not need to explain atonement. I certainly didn’t understand it. My first thoughts went something like this, “Ok, God exists. I can see this. By a simple scan of everything it is obvious to me ‘God Exists’ must be true. BUT, what does the blood of some Jewish carpenter have to do with the supposed bad things I have done??” — The typical Christian answers made very little sense to me, and i usually felt stupid asking. For years hearing the “christianeeze language” spoken did not satisfy my lack of answers and I remained angry/confused with this “Creator”. It required years of seeking answers to really wrap my head around it all. And, still, I try to understand it better.
So, first, if you want to “do evangelism”, really take time to consider the implications of the existence of a Creator. That if He is the source of everything good and all life, and anyone apart from Him is literally going away from life and goodness… Then by logic we want to tell everyone, “Hey, turn around… go the other way… life and goodness is over there!” Right? Is it not that simple? In my case it was a sense of desperation. Like seeing a child about to run into the middle of the street. You logically stop them and turn them around. If you’re aware that GOD EXISTS, and you’re capable of seeing people’s current direction to or from that God, then your only choice must be to say something. How could it be otherwise, right? That makes me feel anxious. Often.
And yes, I’m aware of all the obstacles. If a child is chasing their ball, and you try to stop them, they will fight you. They only see what they want at the time. All the same, I will not let them run into danger if I can help it at all. So much anxiety.
So, for me, it’s the WHY. I evangelize because God exists and God is good. And in essence “God exists” is the gospel. The “εὐαγγέλιον” or euaggelion, the evangelion…or however you’d like to transliterate it… it’s the good news. News flash: GREAT NEWS!! GOD EXISTS!! We know this because that Jewish carpenter was just raised from the dead, and He forever changed everything we know about our existence. “Hey, you guys! don’t run away from the oxygen!” (I know. i’m silly).
So, before just jumping in, take the time to know and understand that God exists (a lot of time) and take even more time to fully consider the implications of His existence. Then, find a way to put it into words that will make sense to people. Although no one really knows who said it, i love the following sentiment:
“if you can’t explain it simply you don’t understand it well enough”
One of my favorite examples of this “getting it” happening here in Peru is with a member named Jharel. We studied for nearly 6 weeks with me putting everything in the most understandable terms I could… “Here’s what happened, and here’s our current situation as best I know.” Jharel was baptized, and we continued to study as we do with all our new members. We had many debates, and I encouraged him to ask the hard questions and take nothing at my word, but to dig into the Bible for answers. Fast forward two years. Jharel calls me one evening in tears, “Gary, I know now what you’ve been trying to tell me. Christ really is the only way. I get it now.” He went on to tell me something that was very familiar to me, “I’m having trouble eating or sleeping. So many things I thought, and great intellects I respected before now all seem so superficial and unimportant. GOD EXISTS and Jesus Christ came to show us the Truth and the Way… and He is the only Way.” So much anxiety, because so many are lost.
This understandably sounds wonderful to Christians, (wow, great, another evangelist!) But, at the same time I remember thinking when I was young like Jharel, of how heartbreaking this information can be. SO many people are going the wrong way. Running away from the oxygen. Running into danger. Now Jharel shares my curse. (Of course I know now it’s a blessing), but it never stops feeling like a curse. Why should it? Watching so many run away from the source of life and goodness. If we believe that God exists, is there logically another way to respond? I’m not trying to be judgy or create a response of guilt, which would not be helpful. I would, however like to generate thought. Thoughtfulness.
I honestly cannot claim to know what I am doing. I just know I have to be doing something. And I know WHY I’m doing it.
Next blog i’ll make some observations about the “how”, which is also important, but for now, I’d say the “why” is far more important.
Love you. Pray for Jharel, and the church in Cusco.