In the Marketplace
Fishers of men
Several years ago I was invited to go on my first mission trip to Thailand. I had never wanted to go overseas for any reason. But I had a sincere desire to share the gospel and to be useful to the Lord. So I agreed to go, with the understanding that PowerPoint sermons and health-related materials would be supplied.
About two months before leaving, my wife, Ginny, and I were informed that we had to write our own sermons. There was nothing available for Buddhist audiences. While I had offered the sermon for my local church a few times, creating sermons for foreign Buddhists was in a totally different league. I decided to cancel rather than make a fool of myself.
While studying my Sabbath school lesson that same week, a quote from Ellen White leapt out at me. It said (paraphrased), “When planning to do God’s work we should never consider failure. In God’s work there is no failure except if we fail to go.” I felt like those words were written just for me.
So to Thailand we went. We had the privilege of witnessing 27 lovely people take their stand for the Lord. My wife and I are now preparing for our seventh trip to Thailand, and we’ve seen over 200 souls baptized.
Now let me share a more personal story. Last spring I presented a lay evangelism workshop in Madison, Wisconsin. Friday night, during the opening session of the workshop, I asked each of the attendees to make a list of 10 names—people they have a burden to share the gospel with. I then asked them to pray for God to give them witnessing opportunities with those on their list.
Not asking my students to do anything I wouldn’t, I prepared my own list. It included my daughter, Karen, and her boyfriend, John. Karen was a prodigal in every sense of the word: twice divorced, somewhat estranged from the family, and living a wild, worldly life.
That night as I prayed over my list, I earnestly asked God to somehow touch Karen’s heart and give her the desire to come back to Him. On Sabbath, during the workshop’s second session, our group prayed for all of the names on each of our lists.
Sunday morning, I was awakened by a telephone call. It was Karen. The first thing she said was, “When can we start Bible studies?”
Ginny and I gave Karen and John their first Bible study that afternoon. Long story short, Karen and John are now married and have been baptized as well.
Ellen White wrote, “No sooner does one come to Christ than there is born in his heart a desire to make known to others what a precious friend he has found in Jesus, the saving and sanctifying truth cannot be shut in his heart” (Steps to Christ, 78). If this is true, why don’t we have 16 million Adventist lay-evangelists turning the world upside down? What is holding us back?
When it comes to witnessing, there are two basic questions we all ask. Where to go, and what to do? The Bible gives us those answers in Matthew 4:19. Jesus said, “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men.” It sounds simple, but the whole gospel challenge is wrapped up in that one short sentence. What is our duty to God? Follow Jesus. Our duty to everyone else? Lead them to Jesus.
A Bible story I closely identify with is that of Moses at the burning bush. Look at all the excuses Moses used. “Who am I that you would send me?” “But I wouldn’t know what to say!” “What if they don’t believe me?” “I don’t talk too good.” And finally, “Can’t you just send someone else?” The story of Moses is the story of God’s people today. We use those same excuses.
So, with all of those excuses, how did Moses become one of God’s great leaders? He just went.
Hebrews 11 tells us about God’s great heroes. In verse 34 the writer shares their secret: “Out of weakness [they] were made strong!” All of the great Bible heroes had weaknesses. But when they were willing to serve, God made them strong and they accomplished great things.
When we follow Jesus, our work for Him will never fall short. The only shortfall is if we do not step out in faith. Each one of us is capable because God is capable. What has the Lord asked you to do? Follow Him and He will make you fishers of men!