of the Word
reflections on the call to witness the Gospel and evangelize
by Dave Quintana
Rescue shops and
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
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
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
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
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
Making the Gospel
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
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
1 Peter 5:1-7 RSV
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