Week 12: Evangelism - Mike Oates
We kicked off our first day by remembering our moment/s of personal encounters with God. We have a tendency to compare our stories to others as not dramatic enough but were told: “Don’t despise your story, because God is pleased with the moment you gave your life to Jesus!”
It is the Holy Spirit who continues to draw us into deeper relationship with the Father, but as seeds of the kingdom are planted in our hearts, the enemy also tries to do the same. There was a time in my life where I felt unmoored, directionless, and full of anger but an encounter with Jesus on a warm night on the beach by the Pacific Ocean led me to a breakthrough moment in my walk with the Lord. This and other encounters led me to know deep in my heart and soul that God was real in my life.
“We owe the world an encounter with Jesus,” says Bill Johnson, pastor at Bethel Church. This laid out the tone and foundation for our week on evangelism. We have received spiritual gifts which we can impart to others – in our community of believers and especially to non-believers. Sharing the good news of the gospel is a privilege because everyone deserves to have a deep, wonderful, and powerful encounter with God!
We discussed misconceptions and negative perceptions of evangelism: impersonal, street evangelism without caring for the individual’s needs, a money-making strategy. We listed down our fears: rejection, not knowing what tools or scripture to use, coming up to strangers, not knowing what to do after a person accepts Jesus into his or her heart. Mike shared that he loved praying for people to get healed because it was such a powerful way to share the gospel in its simplest form: God cares for the individual’s heart, body, soul, and mind and wants that person to know Him.
“The Holy spirit is always ready to go to work! Believe that God will show up!” All we have to do is listen to the Holy Spirit’s prompting, and be willing and available. Jesus’ model of evangelism always involved healing and so for Track Tuesdays, we went to a nearby mall and prayed for people as a way to tell of God’s concern for the individual heart, soul, and mind.
Here are some of our stories:
Florian and Esther met mother and daughter (migrants from India) at the department store. The mother had been in a wheelchair for 15 years, and the daughter’s throat was hoarse from an operation. We told them of God’s love and prayed for their healing. Both were in tears and touched that strangers would pray for them. They also prayed for an Italian woman who had pain in her hips and legs; after praying she felt the pain go down and thanked us.
Suzi prayed for Luigi, an Italian in a wheelchair. Although he did not experience any healing, he cried when Suzi told him that God loved him.
Mariah and Nate felt strongly that they should pray for someone with foot pain. They kept asking around but no one had foot pain, until they met Laurence who had a cochlear implant. They asked his wife Dori, who turned out to have feet arthritis. She never felt that she deserved prayer because her pain “was small.” She learned that day that God cares for everything about her, including her “small feet arthritis.”
God pointed Jaron and Mike to a young woman with purple earphones so she would know that God wanted to heal her heart of emotional pain, and that she didn’t need to feel lonely and isolated. Her name: Lyric J
Our goal is to build up a “kingdom culture” where we are constantly giving unto others what we have been receiving: encouragement, prayer for healing, affirmation, words to build up and comfort, to name a few. What should we do as Christians? For starters, heal the sick!
“People often come to me and ask me to pray for them, that they would discover God’s will for their life. I already know God’s will for their life – heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, cleanse lepers. They say, ‘Yes, but I need to know if I should be a schoolteacher or a missionary.’ I say, ‘Well, just pick one, and then heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, cleanse lepers.’ Or they will say, ‘I just don’t know whether I should be married or should be single.’ I reply, ‘What do you want to be?’ ‘I really want to be married.’ ‘Then get married... and heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out devils, cleanse lepers.” (Bill Johnson, Manifesto for a Normal Christian Life)