Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Evangelism 101

Definition: sharing good news.

Peter is a wonderful friend who has been teaching me about evangelism. He is 74 years old and has led a full life of sharing with others his love of Jesus. He wasn’t trained in seminary and describes himself as an entrepreneur in the business world. His formal training was going out and talking with people about his love affair with Jesus. He spent many years in prisons, not as an inmate, but as a visitor wanting to become a friend.

Apparently men in prison have a healthy distrust of anyone visiting them with a religious mindset. Nevertheless, Peter in his own uniquely disarming way managed to break through into countless men’s lives. One of their questions that they always asked him was “why don’t you ask what I’m in for.” Peter’s response was, “I don’t care.” He had a clear understanding that the gospel is Jesus himself. He focused on telling them about His Lord and His love for them.

His philosophy was that he was acting like a tow truck driver. He didn’t care why they were in the ditch; he only wanted to help them to get out. He would tell them stories of what it meant to be born again.

His favorite story was the transformation that took place when a caterpillar goes through metamorphosis and becomes a butterfly. A caterpillar does nothing but eat and destroy any plant that it is on. Eventually it spins a cocoon around itself and emerges as a butterfly. Butterflies no longer destroy but drink the nectar from flower to flower, pollinating them, which brings more life.

Peter never focused on sin but on the One who conquered sin and death. For him evangelism was sharing a vital, life giving relationship with none other than Jesus Christ Himself.

I have found it interesting when asking Christians why Jesus died, that their first response is usually, “He died for our sins.” Peter would answer, “He died so we can have a relationship with Him and His Father” It’s no wonder that so many came to know Jesus through Peter’s plan of evangelism. He didn’t focus on their sin. That was like getting them to know that grass was green or the sky is blue.

He hadn’t been trained in mass evangelism techniques; he only knew that they needed Jesus.

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