What resources can we use in witnessing? Assembly halls should be used to their fullest potential. What an expensive resource, and sadly they are often only used for a very limited number of hours per week, probably much less than ten hours in most places. Can we not seek Gods guidance as to how we can utilise our premises to meet the needs of others in the community? What about our homes! When did we last invite an unbeliever into our home apart from to read the gas meter or to do some household repair or other? Has the Lord given us our homes simply for our present comfort and to build up equity to enhance our security in retirement or to leave to our families? Can we not invite work colleagues round for dinner? Would some of the elderly folks in the community not appreciate an afternoon tea in our home? Would it be asking too much to arrange a barbecue in our back yards for some of the local youths and finish off with a bit of singing and a gospel message? Would it be a retrograde step to hold gospel meetings in our homes, inviting friends and neighbours to attend you know the old cottage meeting type of thing that God used to much profit and for much blessing in years gone by. We could also use our money. We have nothing but what He has given us, and I am sure He has not given it to us just for our own pleasure. The work of the Lord here, and abroad, needs to be supported financially, and if we find it difficult to be personally involved in witnessing, for whatever reasons, could we not use our money to finance the on-going work of the Lord through other brothers and sisters and in that way be fellow-labourers? Other Christians speak of "investing in the kingdom" but some of our folks might take exception to that phrase, so how about, "investing for eternity". Is that not a proper and more fulfilling use of what God has given us? That is far better than merely using it on ourselves. The challenge is, "Where are our investments?".
The other types of resources we need to consider are in relation to how we actually make contact with individuals and how to leave them with a clear presentation of the truth of God. We are presently using a drop-in-centre, where we serve soup and other refreshments to drug addicts and alcoholics. Through this, opportunities arise to present the gospel daily. Some friends are involved in a soup van on a Friday night in a neighbouring town where again opportunities are given to be witnesses. Another brother who is known to me takes a trailer into the local agricultural shows where the Word of God is displayed and tracts are made freely available. Often local schools are only too keen to have local Christians in to help them with the school assemblies. What about paying to have the Word of God displayed publicly on buses, in railway stations, on billboards, etc? Could there be potential in your area for a bookstall at a local market? Would the editor of the local newspaper, or news-sheet, allow a regular article from a Christian perspective? Maybe not, but has he or she ever been asked? Internet sites and telephone call lines can also be used to make contact with searching souls. The devil is using them to great effect so there must be an opportunity for believers in Christ to use them to promote Gods truth.
Of course there is also radio and television; what an impact these media have had on society. Is it possible that we could use these resources likewise? The government is encouraging the setting up of community radio stations and this may open opportunities for local Christian based radio. That may involve a fairly large sum of money but would it not be a worthwhile investment? These are just a few of many types of opportunities we need to be exploiting for the sake of the gospel. We must start thinking laterally instead of in the tunnel vision that we are so used to, and we need to appreciate that just because something has not been done before does not mean it is wrong!! I read recently in Uplook magazine these words: "We may use the same seed as our grandfathers but we dont use the same ploughshares". That is certainly something worth thinking about, although, having said that, the old tried and tested methods should not be abandoned just for the sake of it. I am sure there is still a place for "open-air" preaching, as long as it is carried out sensibly and sensitively. Our traditional gospel meetings still have a role to play as long as unbelievers are attending. However, I do not see any merit in persevering with them just for the sake of it, if no one is coming in from the locality and no effort is being made to bring them in.
We also need to be sensible with our choice of literature and other resources that we distribute to unbelievers. Again, what was suitable in our grandfathers day may not be entirely suitable today! A vast range of literature is available covering all age groups, all interests, and all segments of society. We need to choose well what we use and when. It must be readable and presentable. It must commend the God and the gospel we preach. It must be relevant to the persons we are seeking to reach. And, of course, it must give a clear account of the truth of the gospel. However, for free distribution of the Word of God we should also consider the use of videos, tapes, and CDs. Recently I have been associated with the distribution of CDs containing clear gospel messages, which have been used of God to reach a number of souls with the saving power of His Word. They have been passed on from person to person and copied by others so the distribution and blessing goes far beyond the initial contacts.
Our testimony towards the world
We cannot really close this article without commenting on the character of the witnesses. Living out our faith is the best way of sharing it. There is little point in preaching about our faith if we are not practising it. In modern language, "We need to walk the walk as well as talk the talk". The character and behaviour of the witness will greatly enhance the impact of the truth witnessed to. Consider the words of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 1.5: "For our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance, as you know what manner of men we were among you for your sakes". There was no discrepancy between the man and the message. All Paul said was backed up by the life he was leading. His life commended the gospel. Sadly, Christians not living up to the standards that God, and indeed men, expect of them have done much harm to the progress of the work of the Lord. If we are not living out what we believe there is little point in telling it out.
What hindrances could there be to our being witnesses? One great hindrance is fear. In the early days of the Acts, subsequent to the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit, the believers with "much boldness" went out into the streets to preach Christ. Where is this "holy boldness" or "Holy Ghost boldness" today? These men had known a deep experience of God that changed their lives completely from been cowering, cowardly, apologetic followers of Christ to bold, courageous preachers of Christ, the Cross, and the Resurrection. Many of us sadly cannot say, as Paul states, "I am not ashamed of the gospel " (Rom 1.16). So often we are ashamed and afraid and thus "hold our peace" rather than fearlessly and without embarrassment speak forth the words of life. Do we need fresh dealings with God in our lives? Do we need a fresh infilling and empowering of the Holy Spirit? I think we do.
Another hindrance is the fact that for many of us our Christianity has become routine. We have become lethargic and apathetic. We are saved and content to be so, but the realities of eternity do not really grip our hearts. Our pursuit after material gain and commercial success is evidence that we still live for this world. Many are content just to be "meeting attendees" without any real commitment to anything. If others want to be witnesses and to be involved in evangelism thats "OK", but dont expect too much, if anything from me: lip service, "Yes", but practical involvement, "No"! We need to be shaken by God out of this satanically induced stupor that is making us deaf to the claims of Christ on our lives and to the cries of the unbelieving multitudes as they leave us for hell. J.B. Nicholson recently wrote, "Do we find it strange that God is calling so many young Christians into high-paying professions and few into great work for Himself?" Has God stopped calling or have we stopped listening? I remember as a teenager, working on a building site during vocation from university, a fellow worker asking me the question, "Do you ever think you will be a missionary one day?" I rather flippantly replied that I had never heard Gods call. He replied, "Would you hear if He did call you to serve Him?" That never left me and I always sought to be aware of the leading of God, realising that He had a prior claim on my life and if He had a work that He wanted me to be involved in with Him, I was willing to be obedient. He has a work for all of us, but have we responded to His call and are we fulfilling it or are we simply pursuing our own agenda?
Finally, another great hindrance is our isolation from the people who need to hear the Gospel. So often we have taken the truth of separation to the extreme and have become so far removed from people, having virtually no contact with them. Paul writes, "For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish: To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life" (2 Cor 2.15-16). It has been said, "Perfume presumes proximity". What does that mean? Simply this, if I am to be a fragrance of Christ to others I will need to be near enough for them to "smell" it! How many people have I been so close to today that they have "smelled" the sweet perfume of Christ on me? May the Lord enable and empower us to be witnesses unto Him wherever He has placed us and wherever He will lead us.