An important principle the evangelist needs to master if he or she is to be successful is how to present a person with a decisive Christian Faith. A fanciful story is told of an Irish Republican saint in Glendalough, County Wicklow, by the name of Saint Coemgen (Anglicised as Kevin) (498-618 AD). The poem called, "St Kevin and the Blackbird" by the Nobel prizewinner, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) explained that Saint Kevin stood still while a blackbird came and built its nest, laid its eggs, hatched the eggs and fledged the chicks all in the palm of his outstretched hand. Not surprisingly, he was considered the patron saint of blackbirds! Some Christians are like Saint Kevin when it comes to witnessing. They stand still and never get moving to share their faith! At some point, we all need to be decisive. C. S. Lewis (1898-1963) the British theologian and novelist wisely wrote, "We tend to think, but not to act. We tend to feel, but not to act. If we go on thinking and feeling without acting, we are soon unable to act."✞
A "fisherman" or "fisher" (which is gender neutral) or the plural nouns "fishermen," or "fishers" are used in their original sense of women, men, boys, and girls. In Arabic, the words "Sayyad Samac" is the same for both male and female. A fisherman is defined as "a person who catches fish for a living or sport." The "Treatise of Fishing with an Angle" by Dame Juliana Berners, who was an English writer on "Heraldry, Hawking and Hunting" was published in 1496 AD as part of the "Book of St Albans." The "angle" here means the "hook." An "Angler" is therefore defined as "a person who fishes with a hook and line." Drawings of fishermen catching, splitting and salting fish are found on the walls of early Egyptian tombs. When a fisherman suddenly sees his float twitch as a fish takes the bait he or she must decisively jerk the rod to ensure that the hook is well-embedded. God has given us the privilege as his "Christian fishermen" of leading others to know Jesus as their own personal Lord and Savior. When a person is ready, we must take the step and challenge them with the Christian Faith. We owe them the opportunity to respond to God's love!✞
Why and how do I witness to another person about Jesus and tell them of their need for Christ? In my mind, there is nothing more tragic than when a minister preaches well, the Word of God speaks to the people, the Holy Spirit touches hearts, and then the minister turns away without allowing them to respond! Another few moments and a prayer of commitment to Christ, and who knows how many angels would have been rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents. We can never tell when God has touched a life.✞
I vividly recall one occasion on the promenade at Blackpool, a seaside resort in Northern England. A small group of missioners and I on a cold night had just started a meeting when it began to rain. Soon those few who had been listening sped away to find shelter, all except for one middle-aged man in a light grey coat leaning against a lamp post. Somehow we sensed that God was speaking to him through us, so we continued to tell of one's need for Christ. A teenager gave a haltering testimony. A series of Bible verses were shouted out over the portable microphone. Still, he listened intently to every word, his hair wet and dripping. His moment had come, all eternity held its breath, and quietly and humbly he asked for forgiveness from sin from God and gave his heart to Jesus. The evangelist "spiritual eye" saw a person ready to respond to God and led them to Christ. There is no higher calling and no greater privilege.✞
May the Spirit of the living God fall afresh like a holy dove on each one of us as we serve him. If we are to be like Jesus, we too will endeavor to "seek and save the lost." Witnessing will not only be a blessing to others but also enliven our work and worship too. In the inspiring words of Daniel Iverson (1890-1977) who lived in Brunswick, Georgia,
"Spirit of the Living God,
Fall afresh on me.
Melt me, Mold me, Fill me, Use me.
Spirit of the living God,
Fall afresh on me."✞
Where do we start in evangelism? The answer is, "Where people are." Do not despise trivial conversation about the weather, it can produce an opening with a deeper spiritual end. Try to gauge a person's thoughts and concerns. Start there and ask God, the Holy Spirit, to lead the discussion. There was an old saying attributed to Thomas Beccon (or Becon) (1511-1567) an English cleric and Protestant reformer from Norfolk, "Dead men tell no lies." It was also found in a play by the poet and England's first Poet Laureate in 1668 AD, John Dryden, (1631-1700) "The Spanish Friar, Act IV, scene 1" (1681). These few words "dead men tell no lies" point to the truth that witnessing is a sign of spiritual life from the Spirit of the Living Lord and of being alive as a Christian!✞
The Book of Philemon raised the question as to why and how do Christians go about sharing the Christian faith with other people. Be flexible in your approach to share the Christian faith. Be prepared to make a fool of yourself initially. Carefully read any literature you intend to use as you share. Don't ask, "Are you a Christian?" Almost everyone will answer, "Yes, of course!" leaving you speechless! Find out in other ways whether they are or not. Don't argue. Remember, you may win the argument but lose the person. I still vividly remember at my commissioning as a Church Army Officer in Southwark Cathedral, London the following verse being given to me at that time. Philemon 6 in The Living Bible reads, "And I pray that as you share your faith with others it will grip their lives too, as they see the wealth of good things in you that come from Christ Jesus." This was and is a lifelong calling. When we witness others will see the wealth of good things in us that come from Jesus Christ!✞
An old poem by an unknown author describes the importance of being wise.
"Oh! As I went out one winter's night,
A leprechaun I spied,
With scarlet cap and coat of green,
A cruiskeen at his side.
He hammered and sang with his tiny voice,
And I drank his mountain dew:
Oh! I laughed to think he was caught at last.
But the fairy was laughing too,
With eager grasp, I caught the elf
'Your fairy purse!' I cried.
'I've given it away,' he said,
'To the lady at your side.'
I turned to look, the elf was gone;
And what was I to do?
Oh! I laughed to think of the fool I'd been:
And the fairy was laughing too."
A "cruiskeen" by the way is a small jug of liquor!✞