Don't be shocked. As a matter of fact, I will even admit that I never used to care very much about souls at all.
Oh, I cared if people knew Jesus or not. I cared if they were saved or lost. But I didn't care enough to pray for them much, and I didn't care enough to do anything about it.
I'm not an evangelist, you see.
I had tried to evangelize. My church used to have a home visit program (called “Faith visits”) where we sent teams to visit the homes of church guests. We were required to memorize a brief testimony to share if we needed it, and to memorize the plan of salvation with the acronym “F-A-I-T-H.”
I signed up for the evangelism teams because I felt like I had to, in order to be a good Christian.
I had not reached the level of freedom then that I have now, obviously. And can I tell you a secret?
I hated it.
I hated every moment of it. I felt awkward and uncomfortable. It was horrifying to me. The only good memory I have of that time was that I met a girlfriend on another team who is now one of the best friends I've ever had.
I'm sure there were others who loved the Faith visits, and I'm sure that God used us to minister to some of the people we visited. All of that is well and good. But as far as the actual visiting and evangelizing goes, I. hated. it.
(You won't hold this against me, will you? I'm being very transparent, but don't relegate me to your backslidden folder yet. I'm going somewhere with this.) 🙂
See, I'm just not an evangelist.
I know some people who are evangelists. These guys and girls would witness to a tree, to a stump, to anything at all–whether it's breathing or not.
For example, remember that close girlfriend I mentioned above? The one I met on one of the Faith evangelism teams? Yeah, her. She's a consummate evangelist. We were at a girls' cabin weekend recently, and she dealt with a noise disturbance by taking pizza to the noisy partiers and asking them if they knew Jesus.
I'm not kidding. You can't make this stuff up. And she does stuff like that all the time. I think that's awesome. But it's not me. I would never do that in a million years. (Well, never say never, I guess… but the entire great cloud of witnesses would probably faint if I even had the idea.)
And I used to feel really bad about this “I'm-not-an-evangelist” thing.
Oh, I didn't feel convicted, as if I had done something wrong. No; the Holy Spirit wasn't dealing with me about it. I felt CONDEMNED. I felt like I couldn't measure up; like I wasn't a good enough Christian because I was not. like. THEM.
But one day I got a revelation. The lightning of the Holy Spirit struck me and, thank God, He set me free.
It happened when I led a relative to Jesus one day. I didn't mean for it to happen. I hadn't planned this encounter. I thought this family member was already saved.
But she was in the hospital, and things were rough. We were talking about God, and something didn't feel quite right with what she was saying. Even though I always thought this person was saved, I had a nagging urge from the Holy Spirit to ask.
So just on that hunch, I asked her the tough question:
“If things go wrong and you don't get out of this hospital–if something were to happen and you were to die today–do you know for sure that you would go to Heaven?”
And she said no.
She said she didn't think she would go to Heaven at all. She said she had tried to tell people about her concern for a long time, but people had just told her she was being stupid for being concerned about it. They told her “of course” she was saved.
But no, she wasn't. She didn't have a personal relationship with Jesus.
You could have knocked me over with a feather. I was shocked… but somehow, not shocked, because the Holy Spirit had put that sudden hunch in my spirit.
I asked her if she understood what it takes to be saved. She didn't. So I explained the Gospel to her, and I asked her if she would like to make Jesus the Boss of her life and receive forgiveness for all her sins. She said yes, and together we prayed.
And I learned something that day.
Even though I'm not an evangelist, the Lord used me that day to win someone to Jesus … using my gifts.
Using my personality. Being who I am–not trying to be some super-Christian-evangelist-chick.
I learned that every gift–every personality–can serve with equal value in the Kingdom. And most importantly:
I learned that every gift is designed to bring souls to Jesus.
I may not be an evangelist, but I am a shepherd, a teacher, an intercessor, and I serve in prophetic ministry. And I can use my gifts to win souls too. So what if I'm not stopping people on the sidewalk to ask if they know Jesus? I can still reach people using my gifts:
- I can pray for people, and they will get saved… even if they didn't plan to do so.
- I can shepherd lost people in my workplace, and the Holy Spirit will work in their lives.
- I can take a prophetic team to a tattoo convention and speak hope, light, and goodness into people's lives, and people will get saved.
- I can preach the Word with the unction of the Holy Spirit, and people will get saved.
I don't have to look like the evangelists. I don't have to try to use their methods.
All I have to do is put my hand to the plow using MY gifts; using who God created ME to be.
And if I will do that, God will use me to glorify Jesus. God will use me, just the way He made me, flowing in power in the things He made me good at, to bring people into the inheritance of Christ.
All of us should be consumed with bringing more souls to Jesus. But you don't have to try to serve God with someone else's gift, just like I didn't have to (which I learned the hard way).
If you will just be you, and surrender all your gifts to God for His use, God will use you powerfully to bring people to Jesus.
Your style may not look like anyone else's style. Your gift may not look like anyone else's gift. But God will use you. All you have to do is put your hand to the plow.
So what are you called to do? Are you called to:
- Watch babies in the nursery at your church?
- Be a godly mom and raise up your children into relationship with Christ?
- Be a musician and release a sound of praise and worship unto God?
- Write songs that bring people into encounter with Jesus?
- Teach a small group Bible study?
- Intercede for your pastors and church?
No matter what you're called to do, if you will put your hand to the plow, God will use you.
I want to encourage you to step into the harvest field, even if you don't look like a traditional evangelist.
And in order to do that, I'm going to start telling people's stories who are serving God in His harvest of souls. Not stories of traveling evangelists with big tent revivals. No, I want to tell the stories about the normal people. The moms, musicians, prophetic people, and kids who just love Jesus. People whom God has called to work in His harvest, no matter what that work looks like.
So to that end, I'm launching a periodic blog series this year called “The Ekballo Project: Praying The Lord Of The Harvest.” I'll explain more about “ekballo” means later. But for now, just know that it's the Greek word Jesus used when He said we should ask God to “thrust out” laborers into the harvest.
Throughout this spring and summer, you'll occasionally see “ekballo” stories on this blog:
- Stories of normal people answering God's call.
- Stories that will empower and inspire you.
- Stories that will waken in you a hunger for the call of God on your life–your call in the harvest field of souls.
I believe these stories will bless you, and I'm praying the Lord of the harvest to use them to thrust you out into His harvest field in YOUR way. Using YOUR skills. With YOUR gifts… all dedicated to His glory.
In the meantime, did my story today resonate with you? Have you also ever felt “less-than” if you're not a traditional evangelist? Do you want to dedicate who you ARE to God in His harvest?
If so, please leave a comment below. I want to hear from you!
Image courtesy of Mr.Bologna on Flickr via Creative Commons license. Image has been cropped and graphics added.