You just never know!
Met a guy named Paul in Edinburgh, Scotland 33 years ago. We had a great talk at the Mound(Edinburgh Art Institute) about faith, life and living. He wanted to hear more and invited me to his home for a meal. I was young and in YWAM, and any meal other than peanut butter was more than an inciting offer.
We continued our conversation, more specific talking about the Good News and God’s plan for man. Paul was interested and investigating. I arranged another meeting and gave a book titled Clap Your Hands about Larry Tomczak who was a Catholic who discovered Jesus personally. I had explained everything concerning the path toward faith and encourage him to attend a great church then called Edinburgh City Church.
A few weeks later I received a letter from Paul that he had connected the dots and had given his life to Jesus. Paul stayed true and later married a great Scottish girl and moved back to Manitoba Canada.
This week I received a phone call from Paul. He wanted to catch up 33 years later. He was appreciative of our connection and my role in leading him toward faith.
Now his daughter is in Edinburgh launching a new YWAM base. She is a blond dread-locked, barefooted, dancer, creative who loves Jesus and is pursuing her destiny…for others.
I was really grateful and more than grateful to see generational purpose being fulfilled.
I wrote a book a long time ago called Explaining Evangelism. In the book one chapter is called Seeds. One sows and another reaps, but God in it all brings the increase. We are no big deal He is the Big Deal, but we have a part to play in His Plan.
You just never know what can happen when a seed enters the heart, germinates, and bears fruit.
Paul and his daughter are a powerful demonstration of the grace, goodness, kindness of God and the power the good news has impacting generational destiny.
I am older at 61 and still flinging seeds. The truth remains “One sows, and another reaps let them rejoice together. Jn 4
The graph shows how the principle of sowing and reaping operates. The minus
(-) side is where people are in their transition toward saving faith in Jesus Christ. Plus one (+1) would be discovery of salvation or new birth. People we contact day by day are somewhere along this plane. Our job, in union with the Holy Spirit, is to help bring people along the scale toward saving faith in Jesus Christ.
If, for instance, we meet an atheist who claims not to believe in God, we might be foolish (unless led by the Holy Spirit) to try to immediately ask him if he wants to follow Jesus. It would be much wiser to sow a seed, being sensitive to his heart’s position on this scale, then to seek to draw him along the scale as far as we are enabled. (This is important enabling may mean you receive a word of knowledge, or you are enabled to pray for a person, or enabled to share your story, etc. It’s seeking to do what the Holy Spirit is doing in the moment.)
If for instance we had a great conversation and he admitted he thought there could be a God beyond his limited understanding, we should rejoice! He is no longer at a –100 but possibly moved along to a –95. If he left with a positive experience reflected by our service, respect, love and care, the next believer he comes into contact with may be enabled to bring him along toward a –50… and so it goes until he meets someone who leads him to Christ. One man termed this chain of events as—God’s grace chain. A good term. Sometimes a person can move along the scale very quickly especially if they receive a supernatural touch from the Holy Spirit. A persons healing may very quickly move a person along the scale toward saving faith.
Not long after I learned the principle, I met a young doctor named Paul from Canada. He was sitting on the steps of an art museum at the Mound in Edinburgh.
We began to talk about faith, Jesus and soon found out he was a Catholic but had never gained an understanding of the Gospel. He was searching. After our conversation he invited me to dinner and over the meal we continued our talk. He was very interested.
A few days later I returned to his house with a book by Larry Tomzack entitled Clap Your Hands. It was Larry’s story of how, he being a good Catholic, came to know Jesus in a personal way. The book helped Paul greatly and watered the seed already planted in his heart. Over the next few days Paul and I continued to meet. The time came when I needed to return home, so I encouraged Paul to connect with a great church in the city. Several weeks passed. I then received a letter from Paul telling me how he began to go the church and had finally made a decision to allow the Lord Jesus into his life. One of the members of the church had continued to talk with Paul and ushered him into saving faith.
This story illustrates how the principle works. I was able to water the seeds already planted in his heart by the Catholic Church. He was probably at a –50 on the scale; He had a concept of God, an awareness of his need, and was searching. Perhaps as a result of our time together and reading Larry’s book he may have been moved toward a –10. By the movement of the Holy Spirit upon his life, hearing the life messages, and experiencing the love of the members of the church, he may have been moved to a –5. At just the right time a specific person was able to encourage him and God brought the increase as Paul discovered faith in Jesus Christ and was born again, now a +1 in the Kingdom of God.
He is currently married to a great Christian girl and is living in Canada. Paul is an example of how most people come progressively to saving faith in Jesus Christ. This is the norm. We are co-workers with the Holy Spirit. Our job is to sow and water seeds in faith. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to bring the increase. I can relax as I seek to become one of God’s co-workers. It’s His job to bring the increase. My job is be a positive, empowered co-worker and to nudge people toward the Kingdom as I am enabled. Sometimes it’s a power encounter, other times it’s a simple act of kindness, or a caring conversation.
At this point it is also important to remember apostle Paul’s exhortation, ‘Each one should be careful how he builds.’ (1 Corinthians 3:10NIV)
We not only need to witness with our words but with our lives and our attitudes as well. It is possible to send people quickly back up the negative side of the scale. If we are ungracious, uncaring, unloving and insensitive in our witness we may do more harm, than good. We need to understand the process of evangelism is about bringing people with real needs to a loving God who loves them and is interested in their lives. The Holy Spirit woos, and the kindness of God does lead to repentance. We do need wisdom.
People are very different and no two are the same. The Four Spiritual Laws may work for some, but might not work for others. Evangelism is more than developing a certain method. It’s developing spiritual sensitivity toward both God and the people we connect with. Seeking wisdom in the context of evangelism is imperative. Being socially whole and developing better social skills is part of having God’s wisdom.
I’ve seen people who are empowered and passionate but do more harm than good. Yes they are often effective, but often leave a trail of others who are wounded, and turned off. Their bull in the china shop social skills is often arrogant, prideful not reflecting humble and caring attitudes, in words nor actions. I’m speaking from my own lack of social skills and arrogance in my early years. Practice doesn’t make you perfect, it just makes you better. Proverbs says, ‘…He who wins souls is wise.’
While living in Pensacola helping a church develop an outward focus, I heard a story about a couple of zealous revivalist bible college students who had noticed a car that had a flat tire. They walked up to the car and said something like, “See you had a flat tire. Did you ever think what would have happened if you had been killed when the tire went flat? Where would you go heaven or hell?’ The startled couple, searched for an answer and an aggressive conversation continued. After the talk the young men walked away. Probably thinking they had notched up another great witnessing experience. The sad thing…they didn’t even offer to help change the tire!
Bring em down the scale? What do you think? The answer for those of you who need some real help… sound the buzzer eeeent. How would you feel if you’ve just had a flat tire and you have children who are tired in the backseat? Probably, not in the best possible mood. It turned out that the young couple in the car were unbelieving friends of a friend of mine. He and his wife had a relationship with the couple. They were in process of discussing faith, family and God’s love. To say the couple in the car, nor my friend were not impressed is an understatement. Their method wasn’t wise. It was an insensitive antagonistic style of witness.
Let’s rewind and change the scenario. The students walk up to the car and say something like, “Hey, we noticed you had a flat tire. We’d like to help you and change it for you. Pop rh trunk.” Do you think they would have then been able to have had a conversation with the couple that most probably would have led to the topic of Jesus? I do. Besides, most people remember our actions long after our words have ceased to echo in their minds.
Not long after hearing about this incident. We were serving our community giving away free Cokes to people on a hot day. The same couple who were in the car received a drink from one of out team members. They were polite, smiling and serving with a heart for our community. The couple received the Coke given with great love. Later, they were talking to their believing friend. They asked, “What is the difference between your group and that other group?” The answer, “We are seeking to love our city into a relationship with Jesus Christ. Our serving is hopefully helping the people of our community to see Jesus and church differently?” Their response, “That makes sense.”
A Canadian team of teenagers came to Scotland to help reach out to a small town just outside of Glasgow. We encouraged the teens toward the outreach by explaining the principle of sowing and reaping and then began to go and sow. We had a great time. As an outcome of our drama, dance and singing we were able to connect with hundreds of people. It was a fun but challenging time. The teens were from the ages of fourteen to seventeen and fiery. You are personally challenged when a girl of fourteen stands before a crowd of hundreds without fear and speaks with conviction and clarity. We knew we were on an exciting seed sowing expedition. During the time thousands of people did not come to know Jesus in a personal way, some did, but we all had a sense of great joy. There was little doubt that we had done our job and had done it well. We had sown and watered thousands of seeds. The good news… most of the seeds planted went into the lives of people who had never ever heard the gospel before.
One day during the outreach I stopped a young man and asked him if he’d like to answer some questions. He accepted. So we began to talk. It was extremely interesting. His grandmother had just finished sharing the gospel with him a few days earlier, and here was yet another person talking to him about Jesus. During the conversation I sensed the presence of the Holy Spirit and asked him if he thought there was someone else with us as we were talking. He acknowledged this fact and stated that this was the reason he was continuing to talk to me. After several minutes I asked him if there was anything I could pray with him about. He said he had a toothache and allowed me to pray. I asked if I could put my hand on his shoulder. He said, ‘Ok’. As I began to pray he looked me in the eyes. I think he wanted to make sure I wouldn’t do anything weird. The Holy Spirit touched him. He suddenly became aware of God’s increased presence. It was a great contact. I didn’t get to lead him to Jesus, he wasn’t ready. He was thinking, processing, and counting the cost. As he walked away I could nevertheless marvel at the wisdom and love of God toward the people He loves, and how he lovingly draws people toward Himself.
This is the principle of sowing and reaping in action. Some sow, some water and some reap. We can all rejoice together as the Holy Spirit does His work.
The call is clear. We need many workers who are willing to sow and water the seed. Why? Before a harvest, someone, somewhere, must go and do the hard work (Jesus in John 4 calls this the hard work.) Who will do it? Any answers? I would encourage you to begin where you are with what you have. It’s all a process both for us who have this treasure in our hearts and a process for those we care about and serve.