04 Feb The what, why and who of Personal Evangelism
Published in Evangelical Student (March – June 1970)
Today India has 72 universities with 2700 colleges which have more than 2 million students. If we look back at the
15 year’s history of the Union of Evangelical Students of India, we notice that evangelical students, graduates and staff workers were able to establish a minimum witness in only about 400 colleges. A great task is left before us. How
are we to reach these millions of students with the Gospel? What means are to be used which will be effective?
In Indian colleges the Bible believing student population is a tiny minority and most of mental make-up is such that they have no appetite for mass evangelistic meetings. Even if there are a few interested in mass meetings they
feel very embarassed to attend. It is quite evident that we cannot make students come to hear the Gospel but we can take the Gospel to the students. This can be best done by personal evangelism.
WHAT IS PERSONAL EVANGELISM?
Personal evangelism is not distributing tracts or booklets to unbelievers or inviting them to a place of religious worship or to attend meetings. It is not speaking about religion. Though all these have a place, by themselves alone they do not make up personal evangelism.
Personal evangelism is a definite, prayerful, effort. on the part of the individual believer to bring a fellow sinner to accept Jesus Christ as his Saviour and own Him as Lord. The only power trusted in is the Holy Spirit and the only instrument used is the Word of God.
WHY SHOULD WE DO PERSONAL EVANGELISM?
On the day of Pentecost, as recorded in the book of Acts, 3,000 were converted when the Apostle Peter preached a sermon. If we trace back the conversion of Peter, we notice that it was the personal effort of Andrew that led him to know Christ. What would have been the state of these 3000 souls if Andrew had not made that personal effort?
It was Mr Edward Kimball, a Boston business man, who led D. L. Moody the Boston clerk to the Lord. Where would D.L. Moody’s wonderful work for Christ have been, if his Sunday school teacher had not made that prayerful,
personal effort? It is a great privilege to preach others about Christ, ‘but the world can be reached and evangelized more quickly and thoroughly through personal evangelism than by public preaching.
Commission From Above: Matt 28:19, Mark 16:15. God has commanded us to go into all the world to preach the
Gospel. The world is inclusive of the college student world. Since it is a command it must be obeyed by us, His children. We express our love to Him when we obey His commandments. John 14:21. Compulsion From Within: 2 Cor 5:14 The Apostle Paul says that the love of Christ compels us to tell others about the love of God shown in
the Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot but tell others as the compelling love leaves no choice. This load increases as we go on telling others about Christ
Cry From Around: Acts 16:9.
“Come over and help us” -is the cry of some people around us today. Of course most students are not crying for help, though the cry of students of India is louder than ever. But riots and strikes are the expression of the desire of students for something real and meaningful in their lives. Christ’s Example: John 4: 4-26.
The Lord Jesus during His earthly ministry went around seeking for individuals. He had to go through Samaria to meet the Samaritan woman. He had time to talk to her whilst sitting by the well. He felt that it was very important for Him to go around doing personal evangelism.
WHO SHOULD DO PERSONAL EVANGELISM?
The following are the important qualities needed in addition to a personal experience of salvation.
Constant Purity: Dr. R. A. Torrey says that “God does not demand a beautiful vessel for His work, but He does demand a clean one.” If we want to be used by God we must be clean within and without. Not only the outward life seen by others but the secret inward life known to God must be clean. We may have a number of gifts, but if there is no purity, we will be like unsterilized instruments which the surgeon cannot use for an operation.
Continual Obedience : We must go on obeying the Lord day by day. As the Lord reveals His Word, we must submit ourselves to the revealed will of God. Further revelation comes only when we obey what God has already shown. First we must read the Word of God in which He revealed Himself. The secret of victory and fruitfulness is simple obedience. There is no use in doing a lot of work for God if we are saying “No” to Him in one area of our lives.
Consistency In Prayer : Personal evangelism begins, continues and extends with prayer. We must keep a separate time to pray for individuals daily. We must ask God to guide us to some individuals or bring individuals to us. Speaking to God before speaking to an individual is very important. Often we react wrongly and stop praying when
we see the increasing hardness of individuals. But at such times we should become more tender and concerned and pray more for them. We must experience what it means to move men by prayer through God alone, as Hudson
Consciousness Of Purpose : The Apostle Paul says, “This one thing I do.” If we want to be successful we must be men of one purpose and one aim. We will not be successful with divided interest. This is the price we have to pay. Today in the evangelical world there are a lot of demands and a number of meetings to attend. There is no use in running around trying to do everything and accomplishing nothing. We must discipline and limit ourselves for the particular purpose for which we are called. Since we are limited beings we can only do limited things in the limited period of our lives. We must be aware of our purpose always.
In the recent nation-wide consultative conference of the UESI the Lord commanded us to GO FORWARD in our efforts to reach the students of India with the Gospel. How are we to go forward? We can go forward only when each one of us realizes the responsibility he has for personal evangelism, and responds with action. The best way to learn how to do personal evangelism is by doing it and by gaining wisdom from our mistakes. The man who never makes mistakes never accomplishes anything.