During each of Billy Graham’s Crusades, when he speaks to the people who have come forward to make decisions for Christ, he instructs them to do four basic things: Read the Bible, pray, witness for Christ and attend a church that proclaims Christ. Last month we discussed the power of prayer. This month we consider why it is so important for us to obey Jesus’ command to proclaim the Gospel. —The Editors
The fear of rejection and the resulting discouragement are often obstacles to sharing our faith in Jesus Christ. However, the Bible tells us that our job is only to deliver the message–we are not responsible for the response. We simply are to make ourselves available to God, sharing as He gives opportunity.
Paul said, “I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow” (1 Corinthians 3:6, NIV). The message we deliver is from God, not from us. The non-Christian’s response is to Him, not to us, the messengers.
My wife, Lynelle, and I once attended a Christian convention in Las Vegas. We arrived a couple of days early for a door-to-door witnessing campaign. We were assigned several streets. The weather was warm as we began that morning. It soon became very hot–more than 110 degrees!
A volunteer drove us to our assignment, promising to stay with us to supply lunch and cool water. But after our first witnessing experience, our driver was gone. We continued and were excited about the possibility of seeing people come to know Christ. We shared Jesus with a number of people that day, but no one received Christ. Finally, after completing our assignment, we returned to our hotel. We were a little discouraged.
After the convention, we went to the airport to return home. At the time, my wife was an airline employee, and we were traveling for free. The only catch was that there had to be empty seats on the flight.
The airport clerk gave us some bad news: All flights were full for the next three days.
“The Lord can get us on one of these flights,” I told Lynelle, “but perhaps He has another plan. We don’t have to be home today. Let’s just make ourselves available for God to use any way He wants.”
We bowed our heads and told God that we were available for His plan. A few minutes later we heard that there were seats on a flight to Phoenix and then to Chicago. We didn’t want to go to Phoenix or Chicago but felt that God had opened the seats for us. We would deplane in Phoenix, then see if we could continue to Chicago.
The flight filled, but at the last moment the gate agent said that there were two seats left: One in first class and one in the middle seat of the last row.
Lynelle encouraged me to take the first-class seat, knowing that I would be miserable in the other one. I was tempted to take it but just couldn’t. Lynelle sat in first class, and I went to the back. When I arrived at the seat, two large men gave me disappointed looks as I squeezed into the seat between them.
“Lord, is this Your plan for me today?” I silently prayed. I turned to get to know the man on my left. His name was Nate, and he looked a little like Mr. T from the 1980s television series em>The A-Team. He had been in Las Vegas to see a boxing match. He said that he had lost money betting on the fight.
As we talked, God opened the door for me to share the Gospel. I could tell that he was listening. Finally I asked, “Nate, would you like to receive Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior right now?”
Nate paused, then told me that for more than 13 years his wife had been sharing Jesus Christ with him and praying for him.
“I know God put you in this seat beside me,” Nate added, “because for some reason today–right now–I’m ready to accept Jesus into my life.”
I replied that I also was sure that God had directed me to that seat. We prayed together, and Nate received Jesus Christ. We talked about the importance of God’s Word for the new believer, attending church, prayer and other things that help believers to grow in Christ.
After the plane landed, I met Nate’s wife. She was excited as he told her that he had accepted Christ on the plane. She had been sowing the Word for 13 years, and that day God gave the increase. The sower and the reaper rejoiced together.
I learned several lessons from this experience:
- God will use us if we make ourselves available. Our daily prayer should echo Isaiah’s cry: “Here am I. Send me” (Isaiah 6:8, NIV).
- God places us where we are for a reason. He directs our path for a purpose (Cf. Proverbs 3:5- 6).
- God has not called us to be successful in witnessing. He has called us to be faithful (Cf. Ezekiel 2:7).
- God brings people to Christ. He may use us to cultivate, to plant or to water, but He gives the increase (Cf. 1 Corinthians 3:5-6).