Thursday, February 26, 2009

I'm Open

My apologies for not posting an article last week. I was in New Orleans doing street evangelism prior to Mardi Gras and did not have access to a computer.

Speaking of Mardi Gras, I had many people look at me prior to my trip with the "deer-in-the-headlights" look when I told them I was going to Mardi Gras to witness. The sentiment ranged from "you're insane" to "You are a brave soul man."

I guess that is somewhat understandable considering the atmosphere that I was going into. Mardi Gras has to be one of the most, vile, wretched, debauched and disgusting "celebrations" in the world. While standing on Bourbon Street at 10:00 PM in the middle of the whole drunken spectacle, I started to think that God might owe Sodom and Gomorrah an apology. (Of course, He doesn't, but you get my point.)

But the most amazing thing happened while I was there. People actually stopped - even came back - to talk to me about Jesus.(Not all conversations were positive.)

Quite frankly, I thought we would have better opportunities to witness during the day time as opposed to the night when people were getting drunk. The opposite was true. People were more open at night. In fact, I encountered more hostility during the day.

In my witnessing experience, I have found that the very people that I assumed would be closed to the good news were most open, while the ones I thought open were closed.

We had this discussion last night in an evangelism class at church. One of the learners said he wanted to go out to White Oak (Which is a shopping center near Garner) when it came time to put our evangelism principles into practice. This was after I offered to take everyone to Moore Square (Where the homeless people are) and Bragg Street (Where the drug dealers and prostitutes are.)

I just smiled because I know from experience that the people in the later areas are far more receptive than those frequenting the former.

Total strangers are easier to share the gospel with than people that you have built a relationship with. 95% of the time, they will grant you an ear and listen out of politeness. Those that are not open to listening will tell you point blank that they don't want to talk about these matters. In that case, you move on to someone else. I rarely encounter open hostility.

Conversely, it is much more difficult to witness to people who are close to you. The closer they are to you in relationship to them - from casual acquaintance to family member - the harder it is to share the gospel. That is because you have more of an emotional investment in those relationships.

You will keep silent - when the Holy Spirit tells you to speak - for fear of damaging the friendship. In fact, I would venture to say that the longer you know someone, the less likely it is that you will share the gospel with them. This is why friendship evangelism - as it is taught - is not as effective as it's adherents claim.

The moral of the story is don't assume that someone is not open to the gospel based upon their position, their actions, their appearance, or any other limiting factor. You do not know what God is doing in their life to draw them to the cross. So go out and tell someone about Jesus today.

Do me a favor. Take time to read the recent article that my friend and mentor Victor Benavides posted on his blog; you will find it here. It confronts much of the modern research that says that evangelism doesn't work anymore. Those of us who practice evangelism know better.

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