This week, I spent time with Operation Mobilization Panamá, teaching in their school of missions.
Eight missionaries in training from 3 different countries gathered in a small town in the Western highlands of Panamá.
One of their biggest fears about doing missions is contact evangelism:
- Getting conversations about faith started
- Steering conversations towards faith
- Diagnosing spiritual condition in relationship with Christ
- Open air preaching that no-one appears to be listening to.
- Appearing to judge people
- Being viewed as a religious whack-job.
Fear is the biggest obstacle to personal evangelism
Rather than diagnose the different fears, I showed ways that people can overcome their evangelism fears by focusing on
- the sovereignty of God (the key to timing)
- how to listen for spiritual thirst (the open door)
- simple conversational skills centered around your own journey to faith.
- simple gospel presentations.
Mastering these cover a lot of ground quickly in helping to minimize fear.
Going to the streets
After some class time, the team took their dramas to the street.
We visited a AIDS treatment clinic, where the team visited with patients receiving treatment and then shared the good news of the gospel via drama and conversation.
A few first time visitors to this outreach dropped by to see what all the noise and commotion was about.
Each drama raised a question related to spiritual thirst.
At the end, a short message about that spiritual thirst led to an invitation to further conversation.
Second stop: the park
Our next stop was more drama at the town square.
Using dramas to gather a crowd, the team told the redemption story through a drama called “Light and Darkness.”
Afterwards, one of the team members raised the question of spiritual thirst and then invited conversations.
The conversations are important
The spiritual conversations that followed are the key to effective open air evangelism in the way we practice it.
It gives us a chance to listen to the spiritual needs of people who are willing to engage us in conversation.
We are not manipulating the conversation, but looking for the advance work of God in preparing hearts for such a conversation.
Those who are not ready for conversations leave, but those who are at a place to talk seek us out.
People came to faith
The exciting outcome is that some people were ready at the harvest point in the process of evangelism. They were ready to make a prayer of faith and decide to start following Jesus.
Others were not yet there, but left with some gospel information and seeds that the Lord could use to further help people along in their process to faith.
My great joy
When it was all over, I rejoice that there were total strangers who willingly placed their faith in Christ that day.
On top of that, the students had the following feedback to give me:
- You helped take the fear out of evangelism
- Once I learned about spiritual thirst, I started knowing what to look for in a conversations.
- I didn’t feel like I had to steer a conversation. The door was already open.
- I was able to relax during this outreach and not stress over people’s lack of response.
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