Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Freedom of Evangelism

The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jn 1: 41-42.

My son and a few of his friends were sitting at a meal when Richard asked about our time as missionaries in Nigeria. Richard was entering medical school in the next three months. When he asked why we had spent those years in Africa, I explained that God had led us to work there and share his love through medicine. As we discussed the various religious beliefs we had encountered, Richard asked, “It was probably easier for you to convert the animists to Christianity than it was the Muslims, wasn’t it?” I answered, “We weren’t trying to convert anyone. Our job was to show them God’s love and to share our faith in Him. The rest was between God and them.” Afterwards, I pondered my answer a great deal. Did I get it right, both with Richard and in Nigeria, or did I miss God’s best plan for personal evangelism?

There is no question that God wants to use us in his work to bring his lost children home. This should be reflected in how we live, how we love, how we practice and how we speak. Our efforts at evangelism are to be a deliberate part of our lives each day. The methodology of that evangelism within healthcare is sometimes complex. Excellent guidelines for sharing faith within the boundaries of our profession have been developed by Christian doctors such as Dr. Yang Chen with METS and CMDA with Saline Solution. We would strongly recommend that all doctors and students learn from at least one of these programs.

My discussion above with Richard went beyond such methodology into the area of responsibility. As I accept the necessity of living my faith and sharing my faith, is it my responsibility to convert unbelievers and save the lost? I struggle with the question, not only theoretically but practically. Most of my life, I have settled into the freedom of the statement I made to Richard. My work in God’s transformation of the lost comes with living a life of active love and sharing my Christian faith verbally as the Holy Spirit leads. All saving and converting and transforming are totally left to God.

I believe in this interpretation of God’s plan, but with some discomfort. The freedom that comes from leaving the lost in God’s hands is wonderful, but it does come with the danger of personal disengagement---if God does it all, do I really need to focus much on the issue? Resting in his ultimate transforming power, might I transform my freedom into apathy?

Certainly, it is only through God’s power that sinners are saved, but he has chosen to manifest that power through Christians with deliberate evangelism, focused love, focused prayer, service and testimony.

Dear Father,
Please light a fire in my soul that burns with the desire to bring the lost to you. And then let me trust you to work in their lives and make them whole,

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