In the past few months as I have visited with church leaders in several countries, I have been greatly encouraged to see how they emphasize evangelism and how God has blessed their efforts.
In China, where I spent 10 days meeting with church officials, the church has grown enormously in recent decades. Virtually banned under Mao’s Cultural Revolution, believers now number 40 million or more–and they are multiplying.
At the heart of the growth is the commitment by ordinary Christians to “do the work of an evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5). During my visit to China, I heard of Chinese Christians who make it their responsibility to share their faith with at least one unbeliever every day. The Body of Christ has pressed forward because followers of Christ have been bold in their faith, at times risking even their lives for the sake of Christ.
In proclaiming the Gospel, however, we need to be wise about our methods. Many Western Christians want to go to the Beijing Olympics on tourist visas and do evangelism. But outsiders who try to do evangelism without going through the proper channels needlessly risk getting both themselves and Chinese Christians in trouble. When the Olympics are over and the visitors go home, the church will still be there and must deal with the fallout. Let’s not hinder the long-term spread of the Gospel for the sake of a few days of activity.
Sometimes persecution seems unavoidable. In Myanmar, Burmese Christians have long been persecuted by a totalitarian regime. Despite opposition, about 20 percent of the population are believers, in large part due to the persistent and courageous evangelistic outreach of pastors and Christians.
While I was on my way to China, Myanmar was devastated by a cyclone that killed more than 135,000 people. It was difficult to get outside aid into the country (Samaritan’s Purse was one of the few organizations that landed relief supplies in the capital of Yangoon), but Burmese Christians responded heroically to reach out to the victims with the compassion of Christ. I believe their efforts will pave the way for new opportunities for sharing the Good News in the coming days, and the churches will continue to be blessed as they walk in obedience to the Great Commission.
At the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, we are dedicated to evangelism and to training and equipping believers to share their faith, through our programs such as the My Hope World Evangelism Through Television Project, the Christian Life and Witness Course and Dare to Be a Daniel.
The Gospel is the “power of God to salvation” (Romans 1:16), and when the church takes evangelism seriously, nothing in the world can stop it.