Prayer and ministry of the Word

This article was submitted to the missions magazine of the World Evangelism Ministry, Global Harvest.

Proclaimers of the gospel have a double responsibility. Before they step out into the street or into the home of someone outside of Christ, they ought to double their knees in prayer. When his people pray, God acts in ways that he otherwise would not.

When the Grecian widows were being neglected in the Jerusalem congregation, the apostles declined to do this work. They had been given a different service. Peter replied for the Twelve, “But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word” Acts 6.4.

These two elements are noteworthy. They constitute the two great activities of apostles and of all proclaimers of the Good News of Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Prayer and ministry of the Word”

How to reach somebody. Or, don’t phone them—text.

How to reach people? It depends on the person. If you want to reach me, email me. That’s the quickest way. If you send me a message on some social medium, I may not see it for a day or two.

Other people won’t read email. Others, especially young people, don’t answer phone calls—you have to text them. I seldom answer or return phone calls originating out of our area. I may not see a text message for hours or even a day. Continue reading “How to reach somebody. Or, don’t phone them—text.”

C.A.O. Essien’s conversion and church growth in Eastern Nigeria

Wayne Burger writes about C.A.O. Essien’s conversion and amazing work in Eastern Nigeria in the 20th Century. A wonderful read. Thousands were baptized and many churches established before any Americans arrived.

Wishing to better his English, Essien responded to an ad to learn English that he saw in a magazine. It was an ad from the International Correspondence School in Munich and Anna Marie Braun became his teacher. At the bottom of one of his English lessons, Essien scribbled a note, “Do you know of a Correspondence Course that teaches the Bible?” On the graded return form Braun wrote, “Try the Lawrence Avenue Church of Christ in Nashville, Tennessee.” He wrote for a course and began studying the Bible in this way. During the year he finished the course and had requested another 140 courses to give to others.

No option to determine who should hear

Jesus does not give to Christians the option of determining who should hear the message of salvation. The gospel is to be preached to “all creation” or to “every creature” Mk 16.15. We have no way to judge accurately who will accept and who will not. To judge receptivity, or the lack of it, in a person’s heart, before the message is shared, is to put ourselves in God’s place.

A different kind of courage

OrigenThe father of Origen, a third-century theologian, was arrested for being a Christian. Origen, then only 17, was aflame with the desire to follow his dad and share in glorious martyrdom. His mother pleaded with him not to go, but the headstrong boy did not want to listen to reason. His quick-thinking mother did what she could — she hid his clothes.

Though Origen stormed and protested, she wouldn’t reveal where they were hidden. He couldn’t leave the house, and so he was unable to volunteer for martyrdom. Continue reading “A different kind of courage”

Is there no gift of evangelism?

In an attempt to discourage his people from claiming its lack, the Baptist Mr. Stetzer affirms there is no gift of evangelism and therefore all are charged with the task of evangelism.

Some among us have also excused themselves from the direct task of proclamation of the gospel by claiming the lack of said gift. The problem he notes in his denomination is also a challenge in the Lord’s church.

Teachers among us have said that God has called some to be evangelists and called all of us to evangelize. The whole church must engage to fulfill her Lord’s mission, whatever be the individual members’ gifts.

Mr. Stetzer’s points are well taken. But I wonder: do we need to affirm that there is no gift of evangelism at all among us, rare though it may be, and more rare though it become? Is it the sword that slices Gordian’s knot, or a slip of logic that steps us further from the truth?