June/July 2013 - Vol. 68

Sowers of the Word
- reflections on the call to witness the Gospel and evangelize 
by Dave Quintana

Rescue shops and church bells
Perhaps you’ve heard of famous cricketer and missionary C.T. Studd. He’s known for many things including this disquieting quote, “some want to live within the sound of church or chapel bell; I want to run a rescue shop within a yard of hell.” I agree with him as well as with another spiritual writer who writes that Jesus invites us, “come with me to the darkest places. Come to the hurting, the howling, hollow faces.” There’s a world out there in desperate need of what we have freely and fortunately received. There are individuals out there dying for the chance to catch a glimpse of the life that we have been abundantly given.

And when they saw it, they all grumbled, "He has gone in to be the guest of a man who is a sinner." And Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." And Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost." 
Luke 19:7-10 ESV translation

He is no fool...
Jim Elliot was a missionary to South America. He died a martyr’s death as a very young man, aged 30.  His wife, author and speaker Elisabeth Elliot, has been a faithful witness to Christ for decades now since his death. Jim is known, among other things, for a simple yet very profound saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” He lived that saying and he died that saying. This life is short, very short for some, and passing. Thus, you must live it well. We may not all be called to fulfil this saying the way Jim Elliot was, but we are each called not to be fools, and to live and die so as to gain what we cannot lose.
For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul? 
Mark 8:35-36 ESV translation

We’ve got what people desperately need
Early on in my Christian life I was fortunate enough to realize just how incredibly blessed I was (and am). I stumbled upon God and stumbled upon life to the full, and I have always been keenly aware of that. Not too long later, I also realized that people are dying to have what we as followers of Jesus have. They may or may not realize it, but they are dying, figuratively and literally, for it. We’ve got what people desperately need. And so, it is our solemn duty to make it available to them. We can’t sit idly by with a “come to us” mentality. We must go to them, those who are lost, and help them rediscover the path which leads unto life.

But how are men to call upon him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher? And how can men preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel; for Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes by the preaching of Christ. 
Romans 10:14-17 RSV translation

The needs of a broken world
Are we willing to enter the brokenness and the neediness of our world? If we aren’t, then I think we are kidding ourselves if we have any hope to make a difference. 

So does Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian: “Broken relationships, broken families, broken promises, broken values, broken hearts, broken lives in a broken-down world. In the midst of this mess, allow the local church to function as the Church envisioned by Jesus Christ—a thriving, radiating center of Christian love reaching out in self-sacrificing concern toward the needs of contemporary women, men and children. Let the church be really the Church and watch it exert a supernatural power of attraction that will irresistibly draw our secular, community-starved contemporaries within its sphere of influence, bring them to Christ in the most natural manner, and integrate them into its life. The best shot at evangelism is to encourage churches to become and to live as authentic, biblically defined communities so that the Lord Himself can become their Master Evangelist.”

The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, "Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?" This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, "Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her." And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus looked up and said to her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said, "Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again." 
John 8:2-11 RSV translation

Don’t just sit there—walk across the room
Bill Hybel is a natural evangelist.  I’ve never met him or heard him speak, but just reading his book “Just Walk Across the Room” makes this obvious. The main point he tries to make is simple—as Christians we need to be willing to leave our comfortable Christian conversations and relationships and just walk across the room (literally and figuratively) and engage others in conversation and relationship. We need to develop friendships with people that don’t yet know Christ. We need to reach out to neighbours, fellow-workers and “randomers” (those we happen to have contact with) and develop relationships and friendships. Why not frequent the same shops (or banks or …) again and again, purposefully developing relationships and practicing what Hybels calls “strategic consumerism”? Do we have good news?  Could we possibly be so selfish and so irresponsible as to keep it to ourselves?
Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him. And the Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man receives sinners and eats with them." So he told them this parable: "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost.' Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. "Or what woman, having ten silver coins, if she loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and seek diligently until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost.' Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents." 
Luke 15:1-10 RSV translation

Making the Gospel relevant
Jesus got it right with the woman at the well. She was thirsty (so was he) and in need of water, so thirst was his starting point because that was her felt need. You gotta scratch where people itch. You gotta provide answers for people’s real questions. Or to use a different image, when you are going fishing you gotta use something fish like for bait (not what you like! I mean really, “Here, fishy fishy, want some chocolate cake?”). It is our responsibility as Christians to try to understand and meet the needs of others, to go to where they live and not demand that they come to where we live. Too often today, we sit and wait for people to come to us when our actual responsibility is to take the gospel to them and to make it relevant. We are to join Jesus in his incarnational ministry. We need to make faith alive and Christianity attractive. We Christians were well criticized by the German philosopher Nietzsche when he retorted, “Christians need to look a lot more saved before I’ll believe in their Savior.”
There came a woman of Samar'ia to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samar'ia?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?" Jesus said to her, "Every one who drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst; the water that I shall give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw." 
John 4:7-15 RSV translation

Hudson Taylor
You know how sometimes you seem to read just the right book at just the right time? Well reading about Hudson Taylor—missionary to China—was just that for me.  It was fairly early in my years of doing evangelistic and pastoral work with University students. I was okay at it but found it challenging. I enjoyed it for the most part, but struggled to find the balance between what my efforts could accomplish and what was “up to God”. I wanted to “believe God for miracles” but I didn’t really see very many. I wanted to be a “man of faith” and not “strive in the flesh”—but I wrestled with the Lord and myself trying to figure out how all this fit together. So reading of Hudson Taylor and the China Inland Mission was “just what the doctor ordered”. He helped me understand it was 100% God … and 100% me (that is, I had to give my all but my all didn’t really account for all that much!). He helped me find a peace and confidence in doing what I could … and then letting go. He helped me learn how to “pour out my life for someone”—and yet somehow remain “detached”, how to “give myself completely”—and yet not be “overly ambitious”. Of course, I’m still learning all these things, and still trying to see how they are to be manifested in my life—but thanks Hudson for your crucial initial help and insight!
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that in due time he may exalt you. Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you. 
1 Peter 5:1-7 RSV translation

[Dave Quintana is an elder of the Servants of the Word, a missionary brotherhood of men living single for the Lord. He is also a regional coordinator for the Sword of the Spirit in Europe and the Middle East. He currently lives in London, England.]
Daily Meds from the Q Source
by Dave Quintana, published by Tabor House, 2012, 250 pages, $11.00

Dave Quintana's daily meditations and Bible readings to stir our minds and kindle our hearts in 2013. He explores themes important to all who search to be wise men and women in the Lord, and provides a wealth of personal experience from living and ministering in Central America, Asia, Europe, and the United States. Expect to be challenged. Expect to be inspired. Expect to meet the living and loving God. Order from Tabor House.

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