BLOG 11/7/17. TRUE EVANGELISM: CONTAGIOUS UNDER THE HOOD
I’ve had a long career teaching, and seeking to practice, faithfulness to Christ’s command to make disciples/evangelism, . . . but one of my all-time favorite models was a guy named Charles, and I need to tell you about him. My wife and I were on a short-term mission to teach evangelism to the pastors in a small, and destitute, country in southern Africa. In many ways, it was a discouraging mission because the traditional church institution, its membership, and its pastors, and the missionary community were quite too indifferent to anything smacking of gospel obedience. They were essentially a sterile and non-productive bunch and it didn’t seem to bother them. They were content to go through the motions, and were missionally passive.
But then there was Charles. Charles was a big, gentle African-American guy, who was a master-mechanic and had been sent by the missionary agency to maintain the motor pool owned by the church. His wife, Betty, was white and an energetic mother home-schooling their children. Add to that, they were both Southern Baptist, but in reality, were card-carrying Pentecostals. They were an episode of freshness, life, love and contagious Christian folk to whom my wife and I often turned for prayer.
Here’s my point: while I was trying to teach evangelism to pastors who were anything but contagious Christians (if, indeed, they were even articulate Christians at all), there was Charles, under the hood of a Toyota repairing engines and carrying on quiet conversations with the locals who would inquire about how he got there, and what motivated him to do so. Nothing dramatic. Just a contagious Christian under the hood sharing his hope and joy in Jesus with the locals who were living a pretty joyless and hopeless existence. One by one they would want to know more, and Charles and Betty’s home became a place of loving mentoring. A Christian community began to form, and after our stay there it grew to be a large Pentecostal community because all those whom Charles brought to faith and mentored, like Charles, became contagious Christians, i.e., truly evangelistic in the best sense of that word. Then, a few years after we returned to the States, I learned that they had planted another church in the capitol city that also grew into a very large assembly. Evangelism: contagious under the hood. I love it.
I read an essay on human sexuality a few years ago by a gifted secular scholar, who described the reason that human sexuality is such a strong drive for those years after puberty is that there is built in to our human nature the need to reproduce our gene-pool into the next generation. Chew on that for a minute. If one generation doesn’t reproduce itself, then there is no next generation. This is equally true of the church.
But, like Charles, when one comes to true faith in Jesus and embraces him in obedient faith, then Christ comes and takes up his abode in us, . . . or as Peter would state it, we become partakers of the divine nature and are given all things that pertain to life and god-likeness. And an integral part of that divine nature, that genome of Christ, is his own passion to contagiously seek and to save those we meet under the hood, those living joyless, hopeless, meaningless lives, . . . and are looking for some authentic answer. Jesus, as he dwells in us, imbues us with his on mission to reproduce a next generation. And, to be brutally candid: if that is not true in our lives then we need to examine ourselves to see if we are truly in the faith (II Cor. 13:5).
Who are your spiritual children? Who have you met ‘under the hood’ and introduced to our hope and joy in Christ? What are you contributing to assuring that there is a next generation? This is a high joy for those engaged in it. I’d love to hear from you.