I am sincerely humbled and thankful to God for setting me apart to do the work of an evangelist this summer. By the mercy of God, Grace Fellowship Church saw fit to hire me as an evangelist for 8 weeks this summer. My assignment is to serve Grace Fellowship Church (Rexdale, ON) and her church plants, Grace Chapel (Markham) and New City Baptist (downtown TO), in the ministry of spreading the Good News of the work of Jesus Christ. The work of an evangelist is not only to spread the Good News, but to “equip the saints for the work of ministry” (Eph 4.12). Thus, my aim this summer is to not only spread the Gospel, but also to help equip (and encourage) the saints for the work of spreading the Good News. This work is not easy; may the Lord help us. After a day of planning, prayer, meetings and preparation, yesterday was my first day on the streets in Rexdale.
Steve F. and I were mutually encouraged by co-labouring together. Before going out we read and pondered 2 Corinthians 2.12-6.13. Our hearts were warmed and encouraged by this passage, which reminded us of the ministry of reconciliation which has been given to us (the Church). This Scripture teaches us that mankind is NOT on good terms with God. There is an urgent need for reconciliation. Accordingly, people need to learn that they are NOT right with God and that God has provided Jesus Christ as the Person through whom they must be reconciled to him (2 Cor 5.18-21).
We spent some time at the bus stops at Islington and Elmhurst. I will just share one snippet to introduce to the field of Toronto in 2009. We approached a young man who was waiting for his bus. I told him we were from the church down the road and that we were out telling people about the Gospel. I asked him if we could speak with him while he waited for his bus. He was ok with that. I then asked him if he knew the gospel. He indicated that he did, so I asked him to share it with me (even briefly) and he confessed that he did not know it very well. I asked him about his religious background. He told me that he grew up Catholic, but that he is now a homosexual who does not believe in organized religion, (I am pretty sure that he told me that he is an atheist as well). I assured him that Jesus himself would not agree with most of organized religion. I asked him if I could share the Gospel with him. He said, “sure.” Steve and I sat down and I told him about how God created Adam and Eve to be “with him” in the Garden and to enjoy the good things he had given them . . . but then the bus came and he left. May the Lord have mercy on him.
Later on (over on Albion) the Lord opened the door for us to talk with another young man who is Ethiopian Orthodox. He was at a bus stop so I asked him if we could talk to him about the Gospel while he waited for his bus. He was fine with that and seemed genuinely interested in the things we spoke about. I asked him about whether he thought that God would accept him or reject him if he were to die today. He believed that God would accept him because God is a forgiving God. I could not agree more with the fact that God is forgiving. But, how does one get God’s forgiveness? He was confident that being sorry for sin and confessing sin was the answer; however, Steve responded by telling him of the justice of God. God punishes sin. Someone has to pay. There is no such thing as forgiveness apart from punishment. Ultimately, the question is: will you be punished for you sins OR do you appeal to Christ as the one who was punished on your behalf? There is no such thing as forgiveness from God apart from fullness of faith of Jesus Christ’s substitutionary life and death.
He responded by suggesting that one must be good. But then we opened up the Bible on the street (oh how I love Bible studies on the streets of Rexdale!) and we looked at the righteous demands of Jesus in Matthew 5. Together we read Matthew 5.21-22, 27-28, and 43-48. Finally, we considered that “You must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt 5.48). He enquired (on his own) about whether we do Bible studies (which we talked about for a bit . . . maybe I should start a Bible study?!). The bus came, so we gave him a New Testament and a “For Your Joy” booklet.
This post is a glimpse of the ministry of reconciliation in Rexdale: “the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to the one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life” (2 Cor 2.15-16). May we always remember that “the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers” (2 Cor 4.4). And what has he blinded them from? He has blinded them from the very thing that will save them – from “seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 4.4). Accordingly, we must spread the Gospel. Who knows when the Lord will remove the blindfold?
May the Lord help us to be faithful ministers of reconciliation.