“Evangelism works best in the context where it’s an answer to a question” – Graham Tomlin.
Richard Froth, a seminary president, shares the following story in JR Woodward’s book, “Creating a Missional Culture”:
When he was in Romania he sat down with some members of a church who told him about a young Protestant who went up to Moldova to begin a church. The people – the city fathers, the elders, the ruling people – didn’t want him in town. They said if you come to this town and build anything, a church or anything, we will tear it down.
The young man felt God calling him to begin a work, and he went to Moldova and started by building a house for his family. He built the house, and he and his family moved in. The next morning, early in the morning they heard a knock. They went to the gate, opened it up and there stood eight men. They said, “We are here to tear down your house.” The young pastor stepped back and said, “Do what you need to do.”
The men proceeded to climb on the roof and they started tearing the roof off, one piece at a time. They worked all morning. About 11:30 the pastor said to his wife, “Honey, we need to fix some lunch.” The wife agreed. “You probably should fix it for, oh, twelve people.” She said, “What?” He said, “Yes, twelve people.” “What for?” she asked. “Well, for the people up on the roof.” She said, “What? They’re our enemies. They hate us. They’re tearing down our house.” He said, “But Jesus said we are to love our enemies and to do good to those who hate us. They have been working hard. I’m sure they are hungry.”
So she made them lunch, and the pastor invited them into the house. The weary men came down from the roof, entered the house and started to eat. They said, “Why are you doing this?” He said, “Because we are followers of Jesus. Jesus said to love your enemies; you’re our enemies, at least you feel like you are. We don’t know why you’re doing this, but you think you’re doing something that is good and right. We don’t understand that, but we love you anyway and we forgive you for doing this.”
After lunch they thanked the woman for the food, climbed back on the roof and started putting the roof back on, one piece at a time. And when the young pastor and his wife opened a church in that village, those eight men were the first eight converts.
Evangelism is most effective when it’s an answer to the question to which Jesus is the only right answer:
- Why do you love us?
- Why do you suffer with us?
- Why do you serve?
- Why do you care?