This past Saturday a neighboring town had their annual festival of Strawberries. The festival had vendors who had food, crafts, inflatables for children, a parade (which I believe was the longest ever), and a stage for singing entertainment. This festival was one which thousands of people from all over attends. Oh, yeah! I forgot to mention on this very same weekend there is a yard sale which spreads across the northern part of Tennessee for miles and miles, people were everywhere! At a festival like this the last thing on most peoples mind is the state of their 'eternal soul.' People are having a great time (which there is nothing wrong with that), but I wonder how many had ever considered their eternal soul? The Lord graciously opened the door for a time of open air preaching, passing out tracts, and having conversations with others about the Triune God of the Bible.
Let me say from the outset, I am not super spiritual person. I am a Christian who struggles in the area of spiritual disciplines like everyone else. Although, I pray that God by His grace grants me repentance and allow me to become bolder in sharing Christ with others in every aspect of my life, just not on Sundays. At any rate, the Lord has blessed me with some good brothers who have a heart for doing street evangelism and open air preaching. When an opportunity arises to preach the gospel they "go." Barry Carpenter (revivalorruin.com) and Frank Rollberg (savedbygrace.blogspot.com) are brothers who simply love the Lord and who goes to college campuses, festivals to preach the gospel. Several months ago they did open air preaching at an Atheist convention in Alabama. I called them not because they are professionals, but rather to help us (PHBC) in evangelizing the lost in our community.
Being the preaching pastor of PHBC I regularly stand before God's people and proclaim Christ and Him crucified. But to go outside the church house, I knew I was getting into "uncharted waters." I have only preached in the open air one time which was a KKK rally in Russellville, AL, outside of that I am inexperienced. I thought these brothers could help us get out of our comfort zone and into the community with the gospel. It proved to be a tremendous blessing as they led the way for me and another brother from PHBC to hand out tracts and speak to others about the God of the Bible.
Some would say, "you should keep the Bible and the gospel in the church." Well, thats not what the Apostle Paul did. In fact, Luke records in the book of Acts that while Paul was waiting in Athens for Silas and Timothy to return from Berea, he looks over the city of Athens and, "his spirit was provoked within compassion for all the idols that were in the city (17:16)." Needless to say, Paul was very intentional and passionate about the spreading of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Those of us who are Christians and who live in the United States of America are caught up in too many good things. We often forget or overlook the opportunities to preach the gospel to others.
As I was waiting for Barry and Frank to arrive from Alabama, I was doing some yard work that morning. While in the yard a car full of Jehovah's Witness pull up to speak with me:) It was the providence of God in sending them to me. I was able to practice evangelism with a car load of lost people before we ever hit the streets of Portland, TN. After they left it hit me, these people "believe" what they "believe" (which is heresy) and it shows. They are getting out and spreading their "poison," while we good evangelical Christians say, we have the "truth of God's Word" yet, sit on our blessed assurance and wait until the lost comes to us!
God has convicted me for my lack of my concern of getting the gospel out into the world. As the elder and overseer of His flock at PHBC I should be the leader of evangelism and being mission minded. If I am not passionate about spreading the gospel for the glory of God, how will His people ever be passionate? It is clear in the Scriptures that Jesus sent "out" His disciples and the Apostle Paul went "out" to the market places to evangelize the lost. This is the "Great Commission."
Jesus said, "You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let you light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heave (Matt.5:14-16)."
May the Lord break our hearts as Christians and give us a passion for lost souls in our homes, communities, and to the end of the world. I am aware "life is a vapor, it appears for a little while than vanishes away."
My prayer is: Oh, God give us, your people, and churches opportunities right in our own communities to go out and tell others of your greatness and how they can know thier Creator through your Son Jesus Christ. Sola Deo Gloria!