Lives Changed by Missionaries

Recently I was honored to speak at one of the worlds largest

gatherings of believers seeking to enter the missions field. Missionaries from all over the world came to share their stories of sacrifice and service. Anyone who believes that a Christian life cant be exciting and purposeful should spend some time with these courageous ambassadors for Christ.

I have great love and admiration for missionaries. My father, my five sisters and I were each led to the Lord by overseas missionaries, and my wife Pat and I spent our early years in missions work throughout Latin America. Our sons have since joined us in our pursuit of the Great Commission – to take the Good News of Jesus Christ to the world – and I pray that several of our grandchildren are not far behind.

In John 20 we hear the words of Jesus – resurrected from the grave – as He challenges His disciples to share Gods love with the lost. “As the Father has sent me,” He says, “so I send you.”

Most of us have come to faith through the outreach of someone sent by God. As you grow in your faith, the Lords heart for the lost will become your heart as well. When that happens, whether its in your own neighborhood or in some distant land, you too will become a missionary – an ambassador for Christ.

Build Relationships

My friend Mark Mittelberg has taught evangelism training all over the world. Mark says hes noticed a consistent thread thats present in all cultures: “Friends listen to friends,” he says. Thats why establishing relationships is so important when it comes to sharing our faith.

A great example of this is in the Gospel of Luke. Were told about Matthew, a tax collector, who became a follower of Jesus. Matthew was in a perfect position to reach out to his buddies who were also tax collectors. So what did he do? He threw a party, man! He invited his friends, Jesus, and the disciples over for a meal and discussion. Great idea, dont you think?

Colossians 4:5 tells us to “be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.” Matthew certainly did that — what about you? Try building relationships with your co-workers, students in your school, or another mom down the street. Then, host a “Matthew party” of your own! By establishing trusting relationships with this generation, theyll be more willing to hear about Jesus Christ. Not only how he changed your life — but how He can change theirs, too!

Know Your Audience

In the late 1800s, Charles Spurgeon was the pastor of Londons Metropolitan Tabernacle Church. It was built to hold the huge crowds that came to hear Spurgeon speak – 23,000 people a week! But today, that same churchs attendance has dwindled to 75 people per week.

What happened? Although the times and culture changed, the church didnt. Of course, you never change the sacred message of Jesus Christ, crucified on the cross for sins of the world. But methods can, and should, remain flexible.

Over the years, our own team has sought to integrate fresh approaches to evangelism. Thats why we began having Good News festivals. Theyre outside in parks, with lots of music, food, extreme sports, and a childrens area.

The Good News is presented clearly, throughout the day, at various locations. Praise God, its been enormously effective!

So remember, never water down the truth of the Good News Gospel. As Hebrews 9 says: “Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins.” But, find creative ways to present it. As you engage the minds and hearts of this generation within their culture, youll help them see their need for a Savior.

Asking the Right Questions

Todays generation of postmoderns tend to believe that truth is relative. They dont believe in absolutes. Many assume that Christianity is wrong, without actually thinking through what believing in Jesus Christ actually means.

So you and I have the opportunity, and privilege, to proclaim the truth of the Good News. And sometimes, all it takes is asking a simple question.

Francis Schaeffer, a famous pastor and theologian, was brilliant at asking leading questions of non-believers. He wouldnt try to steer people away from their erroneous beliefs. Instead, Schaeffer logically took them through their arguments, to expose the depravity of their non-Christian worldviews. Through his thoughtful questions, he led many people to faith in Jesus.

So the next time someone begins bad-mouthing Christianity, try asking: “How do you know that?” Or “Can you show me where you read that?” Or ask, “How do you explain the presence of evil and suffering?” Remember to also pray Ephesians 1 for your friends: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened…”

The Holy Spirit will prompt you with questions to ask. And He will prepare hearts to receive salvation and eternal life through Jesus Christ!

Share Your Story

Many postmoderns dont necessarily want to hear Christian doctrine or theology. Those topics can actually be real conversation-stoppers if thats how you start out. But your personal story is different. It can be a powerful way to open up spiritual discussions with your friends. Why? Because no one can dispute your claim of how God has radically transformed your life. Theres nothing to argue about. And actually, from my experience, most people will listen with interest.

The blind man in John chapter 9 is a great example of sharing a personal testimony. When questioned by the religious authorities about Jesus, this man didnt argue theology or philosophy. He just told them what happened by sharing his story: “One thing I do know… once I was blind, but now I see.”

Think about how God has rescued you from a life of spiritual blindness. Remember how He brought you into a relationship with His son, Jesus. Why not invite a friend to coffee and talk about your life stories. As you share about your own experience with God, youll be planting seeds of truth. Prayerfully, those seeds will lead to a harvest of righteousness in their soul!