Tag Archives: Joy

The Joy of Evangelism

Here is an encouraging post from one of my fellow workers. I have been really encouraged by Ewan’s decision to carve out time on Saturdays to spread the Gospel with me. This is what he writes about last weekend’s work:

Recently I had the opportunity to join Paul, Julian and Joe on a Saturday afternoon at Don Mills and Lawrence for community outreach. It was a cold, blustery, rainy, gray day and we were a bit put off by the weather. We were worried that nobody would want to stop and talk with us, but setting our faces like a flint, we sallied forth.

Some amazing conversations

As it turns out, we had some amazing conversations. We met an Iranian man with a half-hearted commitment to Islam. Paul approached him and he quickly opened up in response to Paul’s friendly and self-effacing manner. We began to talk about the differences between Islam and Christianity, in particular the contrast between the two faiths in terms of self-justification vs. atonement. This fellow knew almost nothing about Christianity – for example, he didn’t know that Christians held Jesus to be God. We had at least 10 minutes of conversation with him before his bus pulled up and he had to go.

Next came my turn. We walked into one of the bus stops, thankful for the shelter from the rain and wind. Standing alone was a Philippino woman, middle-aged, bracing herself against the cold. I introduced myself and Paul, explaining that we were from a local church and we were speaking with people to invite them along. I enquired about her religious beliefs and it turned out that she was Catholic. I asked her to explain how she believed she could get to heaven and she replied with the usual Catholic mantra of faith mixed with some variety of self-effort and self-righteousness. It was on this point that we discussed and debated for the next ten minutes. Borrowing Paul’s Bible, I pointed her to Ephesians 2, emphasizing that salvation was God’s gift, not our works. She seemed surprised. I explained that all our attempts at righteousness are woefully inadequate and even displeasing in God’s sight. This concept of the vanity of works and our utter dependence on Christ’s righteousness proved a stumbling block – she just couldn’t wrap her head around it, and she kept coming back to her own righteous works, despite my best efforts. The bus arrived, the seed was sown, and we saw her off with a friendly handshake.

Ironically, the very next person we spoke to was also a Catholic woman, and Paul tackled the same problem (more efficiently than me, I think) of trying to show the vanity of works righteousness. He brought her back time and again to Ephesians 2 and Romans 3. Sadly, the same unwillingness to recognize the emptiness of self-righteousness revealed itself. They spoke for a very long time (the bus schedule is thankfully quite slow on Saturday afternoons).

I was filled with joy

As I stood beside my brother bearing witness to the glory and all-sufficiency of our Saviour, I was filled with joy. At one point as he stood there explaining the gospel I realized that everyone in the bus shelter was trying hard not to pay attention and failing miserably (and there were a lot of people huddled into that shelter). It dawned on me afresh the desperate need of all these souls – people created in the image of God, corrupted through sin, children of disobedience, blind and dead to God and the things of the Spirit, under wrath and judgment. How desperately they need our message! What a joy to stand there and invite fellow humans to be reconciled to God.

The message we hold

One of the things I love about the practice of evangelism, at home or at work, at school or at the rink, online or on the street, is that it keeps the beautiful simplicity and incredible power of our message fresh and real. Nothing enables you to appreciate the gospel like telling someone who has never heard it before. In our hands we hold the central truth that makes sense of our world, reveals our destiny, and restores us to a right relationship with God.

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4:6)

From a medical standpoint

From a medical standpoint, it would be like writing a prescription for the cure for all cancers. This boggles my mind – how humbling to be appointed to dispense the ultimate cure for the human condition: “We have this treasure in jars of clay…” (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Joy and evangelism are inextricably linked. The very purpose of our gospel is joy. “These things have I spoken to you, that my joy might be in you, and your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Moreover, there is joy in heaven at the salvation of sinners (Luke 15:7). Yet also, simply sharing the gospel brings great joy, the Spirit’s reward for testifying to the value of Christ. Such joy bears so much fruit – it enlivens our walk with God and enflames our zeal for His glory. “The joy of the Lord is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10). This is what full Christian living is about.

So give the gospel, and get the joy.

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My Testimony: Finding True Joy

My friend, Jacob, is currently leading a vacation Bible school for the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church in Scarborough. He asked me to come a share my testimony on Friday with the kids (a mixture of teens and junior highers) and to share about the Gospel.

I shared how I never really had much joy in Jesus and in the Gospel for most of my life. Though I grew up in a Christian home, I found church to be boring for the most part. I did not really want to go. However, I went, and I had a sort of faith in the Gospel, at least to a certain degree, but it was a type of faith that did not produce much joy in Christ. I simply did not have much delight in the Gospel nor in the person of Jesus. Eventually I sought joy in sports, girls, alcohol, drugs, popularity and success.

I shared with the kids that, like Israel, I had “committed two evils.” I had forsaken the Lord, who is the fountain of living waters; and secondly, I had hewed out broken cisterns for myself, cisterns which hold no water. I taught them that the way to true joy and life is found in Jesus Christ and in his Gospel.

We looked at Galatians 3:1-2. We learned that the way to receive the Spirit is by faith in the Gospel (not just initially, but also in an ongoing manner). Thereafter, we saw that one of the fruits of the Spirit is joy. Accordingly, the way to get more joy is not by working harder, but by ongoing faith in the Gospel. The Spirit works in conjunction with such faith and produces this joy. Thus, faith in Christ and his Gospel is the way to real delight! I pleaded with them to go to Christ for real life, joy and pleasure.

Afterwards,  I talked to one of the teens for a while (i think he is in grade 10). I asked him if he were to die today whether he thought God would accept him or reject him. He said, “He would reject me.” I said, “why do you think he’d reject you?” He said, “Because I do not have real joy in Christ or in the Gospel.” The context of our conversation indicated that he meant, “I do not know of this joy at all; thus, I do not think that I have saving faith.”  I asked him if he was afraid, or concerned or nervous about this. He said that he was concerned about his current state. He seemed to be genuinely sobered.

I tried to explain the Gospel to him and I felt like I was just confusing him. He may have benefited from something I said, but I felt as though I was scatter-brained and speaking without simplicity and clarity. I was frustrated with my own lack of simplicity. I was stuggling to know exactly what to say.

Accordingly, I went to John 6:28-29 and read: “what must we do, to be doing the works of God?” Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him who he has sent.” Letting Scripture speak for itself seemed to be the most effective thing I did. He seemed to get these words. I told him that Jesus is alive and reigning and that he ought to seek Christ and to call out to him. I took him to Mark 1:15. We considered Jesus’ command for all to “repent and believe in the gospel.” Thus, turning to Christ is not simply an option, but it is the command of the King of kings.

He seemed truly sobered. Jacob has already had good talks with him. Jacob will continue to work with him and preach Christ to him. Please pray for him and please pray for Jacob; he has asked for prayer, that he (and the other workers) would be more and more loving and Christ-like as they work with the youth. Next week they plan to have around 50-60 some odd kids at their vacation Bible school!

I am thanking the Lord for the opportunity to serve the Armenian Evangelical Brotherhood Church. There were 11 kids there, most of whom come from Coptic or Catholic homes.