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“You Show Them”

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You show them.

I did not hear an audible voice, but there was absolutely no doubt that God had spoken those words directly in answer to my prayer of complaint. I had told Him that my new congregation was unresponsive. For many months no one had come to Christ, and few of our people were actively sharing their faith. I had preached about the need for evangelism. I arranged for outreach events, but the only people who came were followers of Jesus. I even taught a class on the subject with no discernible results. It seemed like no one was listening, and I was frustrated.

You show them.

“But God, you know I am too busy. I teach full time at the Bible college—10 subjects a year! I have to supervise the other missionaries, consult with the national church and, in my spare time, pastor this church! I can’t do any more.”

If you want them to have My heart for the lost, then show them My heart for the lost. Then God was silent.

The next morning as I got into my car, I noticed my new neighbor leaving for work. I greeted her with a casual, “How are you?”

“Not very good,” she responded. “My husband was taken to the hospital last night.” I knew this was a divine appointment.

I had noticed her husband’s bizarre behavior in the weeks since they moved in, so I knew what kind of hospital it would be. I told her that I was a pastor and asked if I could visit him. She seemed surprised but readily agreed.

That night I found myself in the local psychiatric ward. The visit went well and led to several more, culminating with a request on my part. “Tom, when you get home would you be willing to help me?”

“How could I help you?”

“Well, I need to lose some weight and get regular exercise, and I have noticed that you spend hours every day walking around our neighborhood. Would it be OK if I walked with you for an hour or so every afternoon? Then you could help me to lose some weight.”

His response was enthusiastic. “I could do that!” So we walked. And while we walked, we talked about many things—including Jesus. A few weeks later I had the incredible privilege of praying with Tom and his wife as they came to faith in Christ. Soon they were attending our church.

A funny thing happened after that. I did not preach again on evangelism. I didn’t teach any more classes on the subject either. I did pray though, and in a matter of weeks some of our people started bringing others to church. A college professor brought a colleague who was searching for answers in his life. A rugby player brought some teammates with whom he was sharing his faith. A young mother brought a friend from the neighborhood.

In the next 12 months about 50 people came to Christ, and baptisms became a regular occurrence.

Jesus said, “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40). As a pastor, it was unrealistic (and hypocritical) of me to expect that the people of my church would do something that I myself was not prepared to do. After all, isn’t the pastor supposed to be “an example” to the flock? When I started to respond obediently to the Word of the Lord, it made it exceedingly easy for those who were following me to imitate what I was doing. Evangelism did not become an automatic thing in our fellowship, but it did become a very natural thing.

A few days ago, I was praying about the fact that fewer people came to Christ in U.S. Alliance churches in 2006 than in the previous year. I asked God to stir our hearts to share the gospel with neighbors and workmates, to become servants in our communities and to passionately embrace the reality that lost people matter to God. When my prayer time was over, in the silence, I once again heard that still small voice. You show them!

Tomorrow is Sunday. We have invited all of our neighbors over for an afternoon barbeque. I will keep you posted . . .

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