Christians in the past often had the notion that sharing one’s faith must be done on a specific night of church visitation using one of several methods of witnessing. That was certainly one form of obedience to the Great Commandment (Matt. 28:18-20) which was common among evangelical churches during the decades of the 1950’s through the 1980’s. During Cathy’s and my journey of faith in some of those years we made many home visits in efforts to lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ. Seemingly our best efforts did not produce much fruit, but a level of spiritual discipline was built into us which we needed and helped us grow spiritually.
The model of personal evangelism began shifting during the early 1990’s to what was called lifestyle evangelism. Believers were encouraged to develop deeper relationships with people whom they might see daily such as a neighbor, a co-worker or an acquaintance; and within the context of that friendship being alert to any opportunities for sharing one’s faith. There seemed to be a loss in the fervency of personal evangelism when church visitation disappeared, because the accountability factor was lost. With lifestyle evangelism one had to have more passion and self motivation to keep the witnessing as a priority. So many are intimidated to remain silent regarding faith and salvation believing they will be thought of as religious fanatics while intelligent and thoughtful people will avoid having anything to do with them. There certainly is some truth to that; however, friendships are made and grow stronger based on trust and loving-kindness, not confrontation and judgement.
The opening of the Free Medical Clinic of the Ozarks in 2008 has afforded Cathy and me the opportunity to share our faith regularly. We serve as chaplains in the clinic and the express purpose of the clinic is to share the hope and spiritual healing of Christ with everyone that comes to the clinic for free medical care and free medicines. We understand these opportunities at the clinic do not relieve us of the privileges we have in sharing Christ in whatever circumstances we are throughout the day.
Cathy is especially alert and sensitive to those who come to our home as either invited guests or service providers whom we have called to help us with maintenance issues. During casual conversations with family or friends, she has the heart and sometimes the boldness to turn the subject to spiritual matters when appropriate. She has challenged me and taught by example the importance of looking for opportunities to see the eternal within the context of the temporal. It has been an exciting adventure to see witnessing doors which God opens unexpectedly. One such case occurred as a result of poor television reception.
When we lived in Fayetteville, Arkansas, of necessity we had satellite television because cable service was not available in our subdivision. Internet cable was available through Cox Cable, but we could not take advantage of the savings of subscribing to both services. We were pleased with our television service although reception was poor and sometimes absent during thunderstorms. Upon moving to Branson, both cable services were available to us so we dropped the satellite television service. After about a year of poor television quality in our home and multiple service calls which failed to correct the issue, we decided to switch back to satellite television. I called DirectTV and made an appointment for one of their technicians to install a satellite dish for us.
The young man who came was an excellent technician and installed the equipment quickly and expertly. I asked permission to follow him as he worked, so I would have at least a little knowledge of the equipment. During the 60 minutes he worked, I found out some personal things about him such as where he and his wife lived; how many children they had and how long they had lived in the Branson area. I asked if they attended church, and like so many who don’t, he said, “No, we haven’t been able to find a good church out in the country where we live.” I stressed the importance a church would have in reinforcing any spiritual teaching their children receive at home. While he agreed with me, I suspected he didn’t have a personal relationship with Christ, but didn’t pursue that with any further questions. I simply gave him a card which I keep in my wallet for such an encounter. I told him I wanted him to have this little card if he promised he would just read it before retiring to bed that evening. He agreed he would; thanked me and left for another installation appointment
The two cards above are a single card, and one has to turn it upside down to read both messages. On the back is written what one must do to have a personal relationship with Christ and thus be saved. It is a unique witnessing tool, and Cathy and I have given out hundreds of them over the past 20 years.
Approximately 6 months later in the evening while serving as chaplain at the Free Clinic, I called a young man whom I didn’t recognize into my office. We shook hands after our introduction, and I said, “Since this is your first visit to the clinic, tell me a little about yourself.” He immediately said, “You know that little card you gave me has been sitting on my dresser ever since, and I look at it all the time!” I then remembered him and said, “You sure did a great job installing our satellite dish, and we’ve had no problem with it. I’m so glad you kept the card, but have you done what it says on the back you must do?” He said, “No I haven’t but I would like to!” I took the Bible from my desk and after explaining the verses from the card, he bowed his head and invited Christ to come into his life and save him. It was a very tender moment. I said, “Let’s call your wife into the room and tell her the good news of your new relationship with Christ. Is she a Christian?” I asked. “No, I don’t think so,” he said.
When his wife came into the room, and I explained to her what had just happened, I asked if she would also like to receive Christ’s free gift of salvation like her husband? She responded, “Yes, I sure would.” She bowed her head and humbly invited Christ to also become her Savior. There was great rejoicing with tears in that clinic room that night, and there was also a great celebration among the angels in heaven according to the Bible. (Luke 15:10)
God doesn’t call us to be great Christians and great soul-winners, He simply calls us to be faithful to tell the good news we have received to those who need Him. It is amazing what our great God has done for us, and what He will do for those who hunger for Him. (John 6:48-51)