Reflections on Evangelism
You may have seen the recent news item where a Christian health worker fell foul of the law, having engaged in evangelism with a Muslim work colleague. The case caused me to reflect on how careful we now have to be with evangelism, particularly in the workplace. I was reminded at the start of Romans 11, particularly verse 5, that God has reserved for himself a ‘remnant’. ‘Remnant theology’ is something that’s very important to me and is written about a lot in the Old Testament. It means that whilst many will reject God, he will always preserve some believers for Himself. This assured me that God will always give us opportunities to share the good news of Jesus, but maybe in unusual ways. Here is one example of that.
Paul Williams, now vicar at Christ Church Fulwood in Sheffield, preached at All Souls about his evangelism with street charity workers. Being in London, there were always many who wanted ‘a few minutes of his time’, Paul started carrying some Christian flyers in his briefcase. When approached by a charity worker, he would agree to give them some time, if they would give some him time in return. I’ve thought about doing the same for many years but never quite plucked up the courage to do it – plus I’m often in a rush to get home to my son Alexander.
But one day recently, following the Emmanuel mission where Robin worked so hard to model a heart for evangelism to us, I was early for a meeting and was approached by a charity worker in the street. Having established that she needed five minutes, I said that I would give her two-and-a-half minutes if she would give me the same time. I haven’t a clue what she talked about because I was so nervous (I did feel a bit of a fraud because I had no intention of signing up!); but having given her about 4 minutes, I gently said ‘My turn. Now, can I ask you who you think Jesus is?’
Immediately, she told me that Jesus was the son of God, and over the next five minutes, we had an amazing conversation about Jesus, God the Father, and heaven. She was very keen to chat, telling me that she didn’t want to go to heaven, in spite of her claim that Jesus was God’s son. Running out of time and having established that she possessed a Bible, I pleaded with her to read Luke’s gospel and to read what Jesus said about eternity. As I apologetically turned to leave, she called out ‘Stay and tell me why I should want to go to heaven.’
Later, when I came up for air on my train journey home, I reflected on how God was gracious in prompting me to engage and for giving me an opportunity to gently challenge a person who knew something of Christian things. I felt bad that I couldn’t stay longer to try and answer her questions, but my prayer was that she would indeed read Luke and I had to commend that prayer to God. I also had mixed feelings about the numbers of charity workers that I have passed over the years, and what may be going on in their hearts. But finally, what this encounter reminded me of most, was that in spite of our nation slowly legislating out opportunities for evangelism in the workplace and other settings, we can still share the Gospel. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God wants no one to perish, but for all to come to repentance. The recent mission and preaching at Emmanuel is wonderfully encouraging us to prayerfully seek opportunities to share the good news of Jesus. Please, brothers and sisters, do pray for your own opportunities.