Editor’s note: This article was originally published in the September 2020 issue of the Church China magazine, just a few months after COVID-19 began to wreak havoc across Wuhan and then the world. As the global church has wrestled with how it ought to respond to the pandemic, the Chinese church has often seen it as an opportunity to share their faith with a scared and hurting world. This excerpt explains how one church has encouraged every member of its body to be active in sharing the gospel, both publicly and in their personal lives. Here, Brother Luo reminds us that, because God does is the one who saves, we can joyfully share with others without worrying about the results of our evangelism. He also offers some practical advice on best practices for doing so.
Seek Faithfulness, Not Fruitfulness
Many churches say they quit preaching on the streets because it did not work. But I say it is wrong to judge a ministry by its outcome. When Jesus sent out the 72, they returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Jesus, though, told them not to rejoice in the demons’ submission to them, but that their “names are written in heaven.” Evangelists must not change their attitude and commitment to sharing because of the outcome of the effort. Paul said, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” We do not know if our efforts will ultimately have an effect.
When our church began to encourage everyone to participate in evangelism, we told brothers and sisters not to worry if it seems no one received the gospel. Their names are written in heaven and they are preaching for the Lord. Some believers feel they are not gifted in evangelism. We affirm them; handing out even one tract is priceless. Others are proud because they have brought many to church. To them, we say that no one has the right to be proud. Paul said, “I planted, Apolloswatered, but God gave the growth.” Jesus said the poor widow, who gave two small copper coins to the offering box, gave more than all others. God does not look at how great your gifts are, but your faithfulness. We value those who put in two small copper coins, and we see God’s blessing and leadership in this.
Seize the Moment
Some people are afraid they will lose face when they preach the gospel to strangers. To deal with this, we remember how Jesus was humiliated in order to save sinners. We only need fear being looked down on or insulted. If you are not ashamed of the gospel, you will be able to persevere in preaching the gospel. The lives of those who preach and practice the gospel will grow. How joyful and happy we would be if even children and the elderly were able to go out and distribute gospel tracts.
Would You Pray With Us Today?
Some brothers and sisters say they have no time. But you can always put tracts in your bag and hand them out as God leads, through prayer, on your way to and from work. You do not know what God will do with that tract, but if you give just one word of the gospel—“Jesus loves you”—something amazing may happen in that person’s life, and the Holy Spirit may sow the seed of the gospel in their heart.
Wise as Serpents, Innocent as Doves
God is sovereign in those whom he elects. We preach the gospel by grace, but the state of our hearts is the most important thing. God values our willing hearts, not our ability.
If you are speaking to a person who reacts with revulsion when you tell them that Jesus loves them, that you are a Christian, and you would like to share a Bible or a tract with them. If they are willing, though, continue the conversation. Speaking to a group of people is like giving a small sermon. You could say, “Hello aunties and uncles! [This is a term of endearment and respect that can be used when speaking to strangers in Chinese.] I am a Christian and want to tell you about the gospel. Many people in my family believe in Jesus, and I have a legitimate occupation. I am here to tell you about this because I want you to receive God’s blessings. May I share with you?”
If there is no time for such chatter, then you can merely hand them a tract, tell them that God loves them, and ask them to read it later. Some may value the tract; others will just throw it away. Our church’s point of view is that, if even one out of a thousand holds onto and believes through the tract, then everything was worth it. If you are dealing with someone who is interested and willing to hear more, you need to be very strongly equipped with the truth. If you feel unprepared, you can get that person’s contact information and a pastor or church staff can reach out later.
Evangelists need to be loving persons who can make a good impression on those to whom the gospel is addressed. Speak with confidence, but never mislead if you do not know the answer. Questions asked by seekers are often difficult, so do not speak presumptuously, without God’s guidance.
If you encounter a challenge, you must distinguish between malicious and genuine attacks. Don’t throw pearls to swine for the former; for the latter, respond with gentleness and overcome evil with good. Even if you are attacked maliciously, remain loving and gentle. Do not cause another to stumble through your wrong attitude—perhaps the attacker will soon or some day in the future turn to the Lord. If you respond to harshness with a smile, this may linger in their mind as a trigger, causing them to come to faith in the gospel.
When evangelizing as a team, there are several things to remember. First, pray with one heart before going out. Second, alternate between praise and preaching. Don’t be concerned about the time something takes, but about the Holy Spirit’s move. Third, understand the religious regulations, city laws, public security regulations, health laws and noise laws of the location. Protect yourself with these laws. Fourth, if we encounter persecution or disruption and someone on the team is taken in for questioning, others should not follow. Instead, watch from a distance and see where they are being taken. Return home, pray, and wait for the Lord’s leading. Finally, if you are caught up in government persecution, remember the basic principle of watching your words so as to avoid involving others and the church as a whole.
New Believers Can Evangelize
Although new believers may not be able to present the gospel clearly, they can still be encouraged to share. Very early, teach them to treasure the core salvation message in their hearts. They can memorize this, to help them become more familiar with it. This is simple but accurate: “Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, who was crucified for the sins of the world, died and was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. Believe in him for forgiveness of sins, the salvation of your soul, and eternal life.” Even if you say only this one thing while handing out tracts, you are still preaching the central gospel message, both to yourself and to others. Those who are able may expand this; those who are not can stick with this, or ask others to add to it for them.
FOR PRAYER AND REFLECTION
Pray for Chinese Christians to boldly and joyfully share their faith with their family members, neighbors, friends, and strangers.