There is no escape: if we, by God's grace, are successful in evangelism we will be happier. Our joy in God will be increased.
The thought of talking to anyone about Jesus made me break out in a sweat and get all queasy inside. I am an introvert, and talking to people about anything, let alone something controversial like Jesus, was light-years beyond my comfort zone. But after several years of wild living, I had recently given myself 100 percent to God. Plus I did care about the present life and eternal destiny of my best friend, Scott. Scott needed Jesus. He could curse better than anyone I had ever met. When he got mad, he would enthusiastically weave a web of profanity that could impress a sailor. Deeper than that, I knew he was empty inside.
Lee, our youth pastor, had asked us to pair up and prayerfully attempt to share the gospel with a friend within a week. I felt a little better knowing that my partner, Roy, had been witnessing for years and had even led some people to Christ. Unlike me, he knew all the right verses and where to find them. He also was pretty good friends with Scott. So that night we prayed about sharing Jesus with Scott.
For several reasons that prayer was possibly the hardest I had ever prayed. First, Lee's teaching the last few weeks on evangelism gave me a deep concern for Scott. I realized that he was empty and his wicked mouth was merely the reflection of his aching heart. He was lost and needed God.
Second, Scott's dad was certainly no fan of real Christianity. I was afraid of what he might think, say, or even do.
Third, Scott was my best friend. I did not want him to think we were sissies, religious weirdos, or worst of all, "Jesus salesmen." I did not want to lose a friend.
Fourth, like I said, Scott was my best friend. He knew me as well as anyone. If anyone knew I was not perfect, it was Scott.
Fifth, I was flat-out scared. I had never talked with anyone about Jesus. I did not know all the verses or what to say. Lee had taught us some opening questions, but I was worried that I would say something stupid and mess it all up. What if something I said drove Scott farther away from God? What if he asked something I did not know how to answer?
Roy was more confident than I was. He said something about us doing our part and the Holy Spirit doing His.
The next night Roy came to my house. Again we prayed for Scott and what we had to share with him. Then we walked over to Scott's house.
I had told Scott that Roy and I were coming by and had something important to talk to him about, but I had not told him what it was. Scott was understandably curious when he answered the door. We went in and made some small talk with his parents, then looked for an excuse to go up to Scott's room.
Scott is both a sports fan and an artist. Even back then the walls of his room were covered with pictures he had drawn or painted and posters of his favorite athletes. With the Cincinnati Reds' own Johnny Bench gazing down on us, we pulled the pocket New Testaments out of our back pockets and dove in.
"Scott, we have come to tell you about Jesus," I said resolutely.
"No kidding," he smirked, looking down at our New Testaments.
"We all know you need Jesus, and Roy is going to show you why," I offered looking over at Roy for help.
Fortunately Roy was ready. "This is Romans 3:23," he said, pointing down at his KJV New Testament. "Would you read that verse out loud for us?"
Scott stared down at the page and quietly read, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God."
"That's right," I said. "We have all sinned—me, you, and even Roy. We are not perfect. We have fallen short. We have sinned." Then I didn't know what else to say, so looking over at Roy I said, "Show him another one."
"This is Romans 3:10-12," Roy said calmly pointing down at his New Testament. "Would you read those verses for us?"
Scott peered down on the page and began to read: "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."
"Yeah," I said, trying to think of what to say.
Fortunately Roy was ready. "You see, Scott," he said, "because we have all sinned, in the eyes of God we are not righteous. We are corrupt. In fact we tend to mess everything up."
"Yeah," I said. "Show him another one Roy."
"This is Romans 6:23," he said. "Please read it for us."
"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
"Sin has consequences," I said.
"The punishment we have earned for our sins is death," Roy added. "Not just physical death but eternal death."
"That's hell," I said. "This is serious."
"Show him another one, Roy," I said.
"Before we go on," Roy said, "would you please read the last part of that verse again, Scott?"
"But the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord," Scott read.
"That's the good news," Roy said. "The bad news is that we have all sinned and deserve death. The good news is that Jesus died for our sins."
"Yeah," I said sounding intelligent.
"Scott, please read this verse for us," Roy said, pointing to Romans 5:8.
Slowly Scott read the verse, "But God commendeth his great love for us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
"God loves you so much, Scott, that He sent Jesus to die for you," Roy said.
"We love you, too, Scott," I added. "That's why we are here tonight." I could not believe I had said that. What had gotten into me? Scott would definitely think we were sissies or worse now. "Show him another verse," I said quickly.
"This is Romans 10:9," Roy said. "Please read it for us."
Scott looked down seriously. Slowly he read, "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."
"Because of Jesus' death on our behalf," Roy said, "all we have to do is believe in Him, trusting His death as the payment for our sins; and if we are willing to let Him be Lord of our lives, we will be saved! Look at this verse," he said, pointing down at Romans 10:13.
Well trained by now, Scott read, "For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved."
"Scott, let me ask you a few questions," Roy began. "Do you believe that you are a sinner?"
I was silently praying as hard as I could.
"We all know I am," Scott said as he stared into Roy's eyes.
"Do you believe Jesus died to pay for your sins?"
Surprisingly, Scott said, "Yes."
"Are you willing to call Jesus Lord of your life?"
Again Scott said, "Yes."
"Would you like to be saved right now?" Roy asked.
"Yes," Scott said weakly.
Unable to be quiet another moment, I piped up, "What you have to do is pray and mean it. If you really believe it when you call on the Lord, you will be saved." Roy shot a pleasantly surprised glance. I was shocked myself. That actually sounded pretty good and made sense. Where did that come from?
"Do you want to pray right now?" Roy asked.
"Yes," Scott gulped. "I have to. But I have never prayed out loud before."
"OK," Roy said. "Let's try this. We will all get down on our knees. I am going to say a phrase out loud. If you agree with it, Scott, you can pray it out loud to God."
"OK," Scott said dropping quietly to his knees.
"Dear God," Roy said.
"Dear ... uh ... Dear God," Scott gulped. I opened my eyes and peeked over at Scott. I could not believe what I saw. A tear was racing down his cheek. Scott never cried. Wow!
"I admit that I have sinned," Roy said.
"I have sinned," Scott said.
Roy continued, "I believe that Jesus died to pay for all of my sins."
"I believe that Jesus died to pay for all of my sins," Scott repeated.
"I believe that He rose from the dead," Roy said.
"I believe that He rose from the dead," Scott prayed.
I could not believe it. My foul-mouthed best friend was actually praying to God and calling on Jesus to save him. Wow!
"Dear God, please forgive my sins," Roy said.
Scott was really breathing heavy by now, "Dear God, please forgive my sins," he gasped.
"Please come into my life and change me."
"Please come into my life and change me," Scott prayed.
"I want You to be Lord of the rest of my life," Roy said.
"I want You to be Lord of the rest of my life," Scott repeated.
"I believe that You heard me and that I now am saved," Roy said.
"I believe that You heard me and that I now am saved," Scott said firmly.
"Amen," Roy stated.
"Amen," Scott and I said at the same time.
The next few minutes Roy shared with Scott some other verses, and we made an appointment to get together and study the Bible later in the week. Scott also agreed to go to church with us.
The next thing I knew we were out on the street. Those two hours had flown by.
I walked out of Scott's house tingling all over. It felt like I was in a dream, a really good dream. When we got down to the corner, sufficiently out of sight and earshot, I pumped my fist. "Yes!" I said.
"Yes!" Roy followed, pumping his fist.
"I cannot believe it," I laughed. "Scott got saved."
"Believe it, my friend," Roy chuckled. "Scott got saved."
Then Roy did something that I will never forget. A funny look came over his face. "I heard an evangelist at a youth camp last summer," he said, bending down and taking off his shoes. "He said that whenever he got happy in Jesus, he took his shoes off and pounded them together."
Then Roy jumped up with a shoe in each hand. He began to pogo stick up and down, pounding his shoes together, shouting, "Scott got saved! Scott got saved!"
Within seconds I had my shoes off and had joined him, slapping them together, shouting in unison, "Scott got saved! Scott got saved!"
Reading this must seem pretty bizarre, but I assure you, it was real. We just could not help it. Scott was our friend, and we had been concerned about him. On top of that, we had experienced what it felt like to have the Lord use us to share Jesus effectively. It was so much fun. It was one of the best highs I had ever or have ever known.
I did not realize it at the time, but I now know that we were not alone in our rejoicing.
Luke 15:10 gives us a staggering glimpse beyond the veil when it says, "I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents" (NIV). Think of it, maybe the angels who witnessed Scott's conversion had their sandals off and pounded them together the night Scott got saved. Maybe the Lord Jesus Himself had His sandals off pounding them together. Maybe some of Scott's relatives who had gone on to heaven were jumping around heaven rejoicing.
Although I have been privileged to lead many people to Jesus (usually I keep my shoes on now but not always), nothing has surpassed the incredible adrenaline rush of the night Scott got saved. It launched me on a journey I would never trade. It is an addiction I hope I won't kick until I get to heaven.
We wanted to write this book to help you know what it is like to see one of your friends give his or her life to Jesus Christ. We can tell you, it is amazing! Nothing is more fulfilling or fun! We also wrote this book because we know that you can do it. If God could use me to help my friend get saved, He certainly can use you. And He will if you let Him.
By the way, the last time I spoke with Scott, he was active in his church. He is married to a lovely Christian lady and has two great kids. He now uses his artistic skills to design book covers for Christian publishers.
Over the years I have found that evangelism brings me joy simply because God commanded it and obedience is always a joy producer. It also brings me joy because when I evangelize, I am making the name of Jesus famous. It especially brings joy when the person I share with says, "Yes."
"Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents." (Luke 15:10)
Something happened to me—I got a taste of what it was like to be used by God. I knew that no matter what I did in life, I wanted to continue to share the gospel.
Therefore, under God, our goal in evangelism is to be his instruments in creating new people who delight in God through Jesus Christ and who thus bring us great joy.
Even if I were utterly selfish, and had no care for anything but my own happiness, I would choose, if I might, under God, to be a soul-winner; for never did I know perfect, overflowing, utterable happiness of the purest and most ennobling order till I first heard of one who had sought and found the Saviour through my means. No young mother ever so rejoiced over her firstborn child, no warrior was so exultant over a hard-won victory.
—C. H. Spurgeon
List the names of a few of your friends or acquaintances who do not yet know Jesus. Make it a daily habit to ask God to use you to share Jesus with them.