Mr. Mark Vowels, CGO Director
In just a few weeks, the long-anticipated Christmas break will be upon us and students and staff will scatter to the ends of the earth. We don’t do this anymore at BJU, but in past years Christmas break officially began following a special chapel. The service was usually pretty brief because everyone was in a hurry to go. Cars would be packed, students would be on the edge of their seats, and as soon as the “Amen” was pronounced there was a race to get off campus as quickly as possible. Getting a parking space for your fully packed car right in front of the FMA was considered a big win! I am not pining for a return to that routine, but I do recall fondly the excitement that filled the auditorium during that last chapel service. I used to say, “If we could gather the electricity in the air and contain it, we could use it to power the campus for the entire second semester!”
However your Christmas break begins and whatever plans you have laid, I’m sure you are eager for those days to get here. Mom’s cooking, late mornings, Netflix binges, and holiday treats are on the horizon! But can I encourage you to also think ahead about how you can invest in eternity over the Christmas break? Here are a few suggestions.
Start with Prayer
First, start with prayer. Ask God to overwhelm you with the reality that Jesus became a man so that men could know Him and live with Him eternally. Ask Him to give you an eagerness to tell others about Emmanuel – “God with us.” There are no treasures or trinkets that compare to this hope - Jesus came into the world to save sinners. You will not be a witness to this marvelous truth until it first becomes marvelous in your own soul. Ask God to give you daily opportunities to speak with someone about the meaning of Christmas and then look for those opportunities as you go through your day.
Start Gospel Conversations
The Christmas season may be the easiest time of the year to engage in gospel conversations. Look for opportunities to start conversations about Emmanuel. As you go shopping, ask the cashiers or others in line, “What is your favorite thing about Christmas?” Listen kindly to whatever they say, then offer, “For me, the best part of Christmas is Emmanuel. God became a man so that we could know Him and have eternal life.” People’s response may not always be friendly, but most folks are not offended when you remind them that Christmas is nothing without Christ.
Speak with Your Pastor
Call or email your pastor now – today – and offer to do whatever you can to serve the church and help with outreach during your time at home. He will be delighted! In some cases, your pastor will immediately give you a list of opportunities. In other cases, he may need a few days to think about it and check with some others in the church. Every church and every pastor are different, but whatever he asks of you, do your best to serve, even if it isn’t what you most want to do. One of the greatest ways to grow a servant’s heart and to gain useful ministry experience is to get engaged in a variety of church activities. Don’t get the idea that any service is beneath you now that you are a college student. Remember, what Jesus said, “It is enough that the disciple be as his master, and the servant his lord” (Matthew 10:25).
Maybe you can offer to substitute for a nursery worker or a Sunday school teacher so that he or she can enjoy church services with family during the holidays. Maybe there is a physical work around the facility that needs to be done. Maybe there are hospital visits that you can make. When it comes to ways to serve the local church, seek and you shall find!
Speak with Your Youth Pastor
If your church has a youth pastor, connect with him as well and offer to serve the youth group while you are home. Hearing from someone in college may mean a lot to the teens in your church. Just being there and sharing in youth group activities will be a great encouragement to the youth pastor. Even better, invite him to coffee or lunch and tell him how God is working in you through your experience as a BJU student. That will make his day!
Find Ways to Serve
Some other miscellaneous ideas that you might try include making some Christmas cookies and taking them to your neighbors along with a Christmas card that includes a gospel tract. Try to start an “Emmanuel” conversation as well.
Go downtown in your city with family or some friends from church and sing Christmas carols (depending on your city you may need to get permission), then pass out gospel tracts and seek to have gospel conversations.
Go to a senior care facility in your neighborhood and use your musical talents to lead the residents in singing Christmas carols. Then just sit with them and listen to their stories about past Christmases and look for opportunities to share Jesus with them.
If you have elderly or disabled people in your church or in your neighborhood, offer to do some housework for them or offer to help them put up some Christmas decorations. While you are helping them, seek to have a conversation about Jesus.
Post a Comment
Post a comment and let me and others know what you have done in the past that has been a blessing or what you plan to do during this Christmas break to invest in eternity.
Elliott Martin, Cross-Cultural Service Major at BJU
“When a man is filled with the Word of God you cannot keep him still, If a man has got the Word, he must speak or die.” - Dwight L. Moody
“We can only go so deep with Jesus until we start yearning to reach out.” - David Mathis
“If he have faith, the believer cannot be restrained. He betrays himself. He breaks out. He confesses and teaches this gospel to the people at the risk of life itself.” - Martin Luther
“To call a man evangelical who is not evangelistic is an utter contradiction.” - G. Campbell Morgan
“To be a soul winner is the happiest thing in this world.” - Charles Spurgeon
"Someone asked, ʻWill the heathen who have never heard the Gospel be saved?' It is more a question with me whether we—who have the Gospel and fail to give it to those who have not—can be saved." - Charles Spurgeon
“If there be anything about which we cannot tolerate lukewarmness, it is in the matter of sending the gospel to a dying world." - Charles Spurgeon
“The earth's families will be blessed only if we go to them with the Gospel. That is God's plain purpose." - John Stott
"It's not a real love if you aren't giving people what they need the most and that's the gospel of Jesus Christ!" - Steve Pettit
"A person that is convinced that God loves them lays down their life so that the gospel can be advanced." - Will Galkin
“But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” - Exodus 9:16
You’ve heard quotes like these. You’ve heard sermons on why you should share the Gospel. If you’re reading your Bible, you’ve undoubtedly run into verses about why you should share the Gospel. So, the question is, why don’t we?
Let me give you one more quote:
“Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation.” - Jesus (Mark 16:15)
Seems pretty straightforward, right? Jesus tells us to go, so we go. So, if we aren’t going, we aren’t obeying Jesus. The problem is, we still aren’t going. We have an excuse for every possible Gospel-sharing opportunity. If you are an excuse-giver, read the last CGO blog post by Moses Kim or ask Dr. Kevin Oberlin to explain what he means when he says, “The extent of your sin is congruent with your ability to rationalize.”
Instead of trying to debunk all the common excuses for not evangelizing, I want to present one truth that, if you let it sink in, I think will change the way we think about sharing the Gospel.
Here it is: God wants to use you. God has this crazy plan to ransom people from every tribe, language, people, and nation (Rev. 5:9) by opening their hearts to see the glory of God in the face of Jesus through the Gospel (2 Corinthians. 4:6). But what is even crazier is that God takes that perfect Gospel, the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16), and He gives it to us (2 Corinthians 4:7) with the promise that it will be effective (Isaiah 55:11)! We are to share the Gospel! That’s worth skipping a little studying time. That’s worth pausing the video game. That’s worth giving our lives for.
People are dying and going to Hell. They are living in rebellion to God. They need to repent and believe the Gospel for the sake of their good and God’s glory. And out of every way in which God could choose to bring people to Himself, He says, “I choose you” (John 15:16, 27).
I already don’t deserve to be saved. I definitely don’t deserve to be the means by which God saves others. It is a privilege and a joy anytime to see Christ proclaimed (Philippians 1:18), and God offers to use me to proclaim Christ. Who am I to say no to that? As I see God as worth glorifying, Christ as worth sharing, the Spirit as worth obeying, and my joy as worth pursuing, shouldn’t I want to share the Gospel more?
In case you didn’t figure it out, the answer is yes. There is nothing more joy-bringing than being used by God to bring other people into loving relationships with His amazing Son Jesus. That’s what I want to spend my life on. That’s what Jesus tells us to spend our lives on. Let’s share the Gospel. Let’s hear the voice of our Savior saying, “Go,” and arm ourselves with the promises of God, then go! For the sake of the Savior we love, for the sake of the Father we follow, for the sake of the Spirit we trust, for the sake of our great God’s glory, for the sake of the lost world’s need, for the sake of our joy, let’s go.
Moses Kim, Assistant Coordinator of Outreach & Evangelism
When I was 7 years old, my family took Vitamin-C tablets together every morning. I’m sure it benefited us physically, but it was very sour and swallowing pills wasn’t under my belt back then. I would put it in my mouth with water and it would just sit there for 30 minutes. I had two choices: to swallow it somehow, or to let it sit and let the acid make my teeth feeling sour for the rest of the morning. And I can assure you—not taking it wasn’t an option in my family.
Why don’t you share the Gospel with others? As God began to convict me in this area, He revealed to me the web of sins that was entangling my life. Excuses such as “I’m busy,” “It will happen in the future,” or “I’m just waiting for the perfect timing” were mere facades I put up in order for me to avoid swallowing the hard “pill.” The reality, after everything was stripped away, was (and is) this: I’m much more sinful than I want to admit. I had to swallow this pill so many times in my spiritual walk with God. By His grace, He never allowed me to throw the pills away. I would like to share with you the honest answers to why I didn’t share the Gospel with others.
We know the greatest commandment: we are to love God with all our being (Deut. 6:4; Matt. 22:37-38; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). Christ also said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15). The greatest way we can express our love for Christ is to keep His commandments. Our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ commanded us to go and make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20). I think of the demoniac in the country of the Gerasenes. After the demons had gone out of him, he begged Jesus that he might follow Him. Christ responded, “‘Return to your house and describe what great things God has done for you.’ So, he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:39). Faith without works is dead, right? Did I love God? Then where was the proof of my love for Him?
“The second is like it, ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Matt. 22:39). Here is the second greatest commandment. The classic question goes like this: if you knew someone was in danger of being killed soon, wouldn’t you tell him? Think about that a little bit more and apply it to the spiritual reality. The strangers I meet on a regular basis might be on their way to hell. My lost friends and family are going to burn forever because they don’t know the Savior Who is our true satisfaction. Faith without works is dead, right? Did I love others? Then where was the proof of my love for them?
“I don’t want to think about it. The world’s about me. I’d rather play more video games in my room than go share the Gospel with someone. Why would I want to be awkward? I don’t want to be smirked at or be judged by others. My pride is too valuable for that. I want to be cool and sharing the Gospel doesn’t really sound cool. And what if I lose my friends? Yes, Christ died for me, but I really don’t want to think about that because the conviction will grow stronger. Let me just live my own life. Let me do whatever I feel like doing and I’ll let others take care of evangelism.”
Quite selfish, isn’t it? I would have never said it. I would have never consciously thought through those words. But I know what was in my heart: my self-love trumped over everything. Did I love myself so much to be ashamed of the Gospel? Yes—absolutely yes. What I thought and cared about proved the desire of my heart.
I’m a wretched sinner with a deceitful heart. When I was in primary school, my mom sat me down and asked me a question: “Moses, do you love God more, or video games more?” I proudly replied, “God more.” And she said, “No you don’t. Let’s try it again—do you love God more, or video games more?” This went on for about 15 minutes. I started crying and accusing my mom for trying to make me lie. At the end, I finally said, “I love video games more.” As soon as I said it, I knew it was the truth. “Yes, Moses,” my mom said, “you’re an idolater.” That day, I learned what it means to worship idols.
Yes, I did love God and love others as His child saved by grace alone, even though the evidence was barely minimum. Why was that? Peter said, “Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence” (2 Pet. 1:2-3). God sanctifies us through our knowledge of Him. Our love for God increases as we get to know Him better. My problem was that my view of God’s holiness, love, grace, mercy, kindness, goodness, etc. was way smaller than myself and the pleasures of this world. Obviously, I won’t share the Gospel if God is not sweeter than my life! “Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise You” (Ps. 63:3). I didn’t believe this and my life proved it.
I began to repent and ask God to change my sinful heart. I cried out daily, “God, I love You, and I want to love You more for the sake of Your glory. Reveal Yourself to me.” Then God sanctified me step by step through the truth of His Word just as He promised. I got to know Him more and He was so much better than I thought. The sparkles that I surrounded myself with began to grow dim and His light shone brighter and brighter. I wanted Him now. The more I got to know Him, the more I realized that I’m a wretched sinner with a deceitful heart.
My love for God grew and my love for others followed. There was a tipping point when I decided to just get out there and start sharing the Gospel. What a joy it is to express my love for Christ! The struggle is still inside me, so I continue to pray even today, “God, I love You, and I want to love You more for the sake of Your glory. Reveal Yourself to me.”
Why aren’t you sharing the Gospel with others? If you think you have a similar story like mine, would you pray with me? He promises us that He hears and answers our prayers (1 Jn. 5:14-15). I guarantee that God is fully capable of keeping His promises (Jos. 21:45; Rom. 4:20-21; Php. 1:6). After all, our infinite God is so much better than we can ever imagine.
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The CGO Blog
Written by the CGO staff, with guest posts from students and other faculty/staff at BJU to provide thought leadership for missions in a new millennium.