This past weekend I had the privilege and responsibility to help teach a class on the subject of evangelism at my church. It was a three hour class that focused on the who, what, where, when, why and how of evangelism. The goal of this class was to help equip, encourage and exhort our local church body to actively pursue and evangelize the lost in their daily lives. After the class, three of the class attendees and myself went down to the Redondo Beach Pier to practice some of what we had learned.
As we set out, the first two groups of people we encountered all seemed to be very hard hearted and self righteous. After the second witnessing encounter I had to stop and pray because my heart was very heavy. It reminded me that every time we go out and talk to the lost about Jesus Christ, it is the last thing the enemy wants us to do and we are entering right into the front line battle for peoples souls. Even more, the last thing the enemy wants is for evangelists to equip and exhort more Christians to enter into the ministry of evangelising the lost. For this reason, I think the battle was particularly strong that day, trying to discourage both me as well as the people who were out there for the first time.
Praise be to God, we continued on and shortly thereafter we encountered a family of 5. At first, it seemed as if nothing we were saying was registering with them, but they told us at the end that they wanted to repent and trust Jesus Christ as Lord. My brother John, who was with me for the first time, was able to talk to them about how to do that. John was also able to speak with other people we encountered that day and at the end of the day we were all very encouraged and were looking forward to future opportunities to share the gospel.
Once the four of us met back up at the end of our time down there, one of them mentioned how important it is for all Christians to go out and preach the gospel, not just those who are "evangelists". All Christians are all called to evangelize and be fishers of men. Fishermen go to the fish and don't wait for them to come to them. When he said this, I realized something important. That morning, when I was helping teach my brothers and sisters about evangelism, I was being an evangelist. However, that afternoon, when we were out there at the pier we were just being normal Christians. It occurred to me at that point that an evangelist is simply someone who helps teach and encourage other Christians to simply be Christians. The reason people see it as radical or abnormal is because so few Christians actually witness the way we see the disciples and early church witness in the Gospels and the Book of Acts.
As for the hard hearted and self righteous people we encountered at the beginning, only God knows what seeds were planted. I hope and pray that they consider the things we discussed and that God's kindness would lead them to repentance and they would trust Jesus while He has given them time.