“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”
Johan Companjen, President Emeritus of Open Doors International, was traveling in the Philippines. Finding it extremely hot in his hotel room, he called for a staff person. “Is the air-conditioning not working?” he asked. “Oh yes sir,” the man replied, “It’s working. It’s just not functioning!”
Jesus Christ ordained five functions for His church to be involved in for Him. We are to evangelize (Matthew 28:19); to disciple or train those who are evangelized (Matthew 28:20); to minister or serve people demonstrating God’s love (Matthew 22:39; Ephesians 4:12); to fellowship together (Ephesians 2:19; Galatians 6:10); and to worship together (Matthew 4:10; John 4:23). In the Bible, there is not necessarily a priority order for these five purposes. They are all equally important.
Evangelism is one primary function. If we really have come to know Christ as Lord and Savior, we will want to share this wonderful experience with those we love. It sometimes seems hard or embarrassing to share the Gospel with our friends and relatives. But if we really love them, and if we really believe that without Christ they will suffer for eternity separated from God, we will tell them no matter how oppressive the culture or the political situation may be.
Restrictions on the church cause new creative means of evangelism to arise. In a restricted country of Asia, one such creative method is to hire a bus and invite relatives and friends to a free outing to the beach. Once in the bus, the pastor with a hand-held loudspeaker starts preaching to his “captive audience” about the love of Christ. At the beach, the sharing and fellowship continues…as well as a water baptism for new believers.
In Soviet Russia, a group of Christians took advantage of the funeral of a small daughter of one of the members to present a public evangelistic witness. On the way to the cemetery, they stopped every few hundred meters to sing triumphant songs of praise. The father of the dead child also gave a clear message of salvation in Christ. Many listeners along the way were deeply touched.
In Vietnam, Pastor Ho Hieu Ha spent over six years in prison for pastoring a growing church right under the noses of the unhappy authorities. But he felt that his imprisonment was not a waste because he used the time to witness to others who were also in prison. When he was released, he had led ninety-six people to Jesus and discipled them.
RESPONSE: I am committed to sharing Christ’s love with others. It is a primary function of the church.
PRAYER: Pray for those in restricted environments as they creatively find ways to witness about their faith.
Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS), a daily devotional message by SSTS author Paul Estabrooks. © 2011 Open Doors International. Used by permission.
“It’s working. It’s just not functioning!”