This is one of my favorite excerpts from a foundational book for our ministry at Disciple Nations Alliance. If Jesus Were Mayor was written by one of our co-founders, Bob Moffitt. This particular story takes place during a conference he was leading for church leaders on a Muslim-dominated island in the Philippines.
The last day of the conference, ten people dressed in Muslim clothing came into the large church where we met. They took their places. A hush fell over the audience. There had been skirmishes between Muslim rebels and the government. Tension between Muslim and non-Muslim was high.
Later that day, we discovered that these were new Christian converts who were late because they had been delayed four days at military checkpoints on their way. They asked if they could give their testimonies.
For many years, Christians had come to their village, preaching and handing out tracts. The village people rejected the message. Recently, a group of people had come to the village simply to minister lovingly to the needs of the people. Only later did the village people discover that these caring people were Christians. The impact of this ministry was so powerful that a number of villagers came to Christ.
The final testimony of a teenage girl still burdens me. Christians had come to her village doing traditional evangelism for years–perhaps even before she was born. Yet, only when the Gospel came wrapped in love and good works did it reap a harvest. She concluded with an unforgettable question: “What took you so long?“
If we expect people to hear the Gospel with their heart, we have to show them who He really is and how deep His love is for them!
Fernando Guarany JrNovember 9, 2008 - 1:16 pm
No sort of “evangelism” which is not rooted in the love of God and whose source is not Jesus Himself – because JESUS Himself is the Gospel – is authentic. Genuine evangelism can only be done out of love. Nonetheless, the mere practice of welfare actions is not enough if God’s righteous demands on humanity are not proclaimed. There are droves of Christians who are ‘loving and kind’ by the standards of Victorian nicety but would never ever even consider mentioning words like Jesus Christ, Repentance or Hell because they don’t want to offend people. Neither simple preaching or handing out tracts nor mere welfarism alone will do. It should be both things (see the book of James).
John Piper puts it in a crystal clear way:
“But now I want to say that speaking the good news of Christ is part of why God put you in your job. He has woven you into the fabric of others’ lives so that you will tell them the Gospel. Without this, all our adorning behavior may lack the one thing that could make it life-giving.”
Mark Driscoll is biblically sharp when he states, “Sometimes the most loving thing you can do is destroy someone before they go to hell and are ultimately destroyed suffering forever. ”
James impecably asserts:
“If one of you says to him, “Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.”
Christians are to live in such a way that God might by all means save some. Every Christian activity must be permeated with love, otherwise it becomes pharisaic and hypocritical.
Finally,we must remember that the effectivity and results of evangelism cannot be guaranteed by us, for salvation is of the Lord. Our task is basically to be faithful witnesses pointing others to the Redeemer through every possible way in a God-glorifying manner which is pleasing in His sight.
Fernando Guarany Jr
Parnamirim – RN – Brazil
smilingtimNovember 10, 2008 - 2:45 pm
Thanks a lot for your comments, Fernando! I see that you are very well grounded in understanding God’s heart for drawing people to Himself by sharing in both word and deed! Your organization seems very interesting–and you are in Brazil! How cool! How did you start to gather these quotes from John Piper and Mark Driscoll! How did you find our blog? 🙂
Fernando Guarany JrNovember 18, 2008 - 7:15 pm
God graciously gave me the opportunity to meet Darrow Miller in Sao Paulo last July as he taught at the national AECEP Conference. AECEP is an association of Principle Approach schools in Brazil which I have been serving as a translator in the past few years. Since July, the Lord has used Darrow’s words to minister to me daily as I fight the terrible sin of living in the rat race and ungodly busyness.
Jesus put John Piper into my life some time ago as I struggled with the “dichotomy” between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility in evangelism. Mark Driscoll came a few months after Piper as I investigated the Emergent Church. They’ve both become close friends I constantly carry in my heart, under my arm and on my mp4 player.
Um abraço [Brazilian greeting meaning “A hug”]
Fernando Guarany Jr
Parnamirim – RN – Brazil