Tag Archives: evangelism

Remembering Dad’s Death – Peace in an Unanswered Prayer

Here I am snuggled up with dad in his favorite red chair. I miss him much.

Me snuggled up with dad in his favorite red chair. I miss him much.

This post is written by a guest author, my wife, Carrie Kell

“Dad, hey it’s me. I called to see if you know what you were doing 33 years ago today?”

“No, I don’t think I do. “

“You were looking at me for the first time.”

The silence was broken with a tearful voice, “You’d think I would remember that, huh? I guess it is August the 8th. Happy Birthday, Sis (he called me sis or sissy for as long as I can remember).

Dad actually never forgot my birthday. I wasn’t upset though, I knew he hadn’t been himself lately.

I had called him a few days earlier and he’d asked me (for the 3rd time) if I knew what “the baby growing in my belly was yet.” I reminded him it was a boy, and he was just as shocked and excited as he was the other two times I told him. I knew something wasn’t right.

What I didn’t know, however, is that the last time I would ever speak to my dad (perhaps for eternity) was on my 33rd birthday. I am forever thankful that I called and reminded him what day it was. His response was so sweet. He was emotional. I often wonder if he knew he was close to the end.

The Day

We were in Speculator, New York where Garrett was speaking at a family camp. We were there to relax and be reunited with some dear friends from Texas. I would need those friends that week more than I realized. The Lord’s timing always amazes me and encourages my faith.

Two days after we arrived, on August 10th, 2013 my sweet husband came to me in the dining area where I had just shared laughs with my friends. He led me by the hand into the hallway and said those words I’ll never forget, “Carrie, your dad died.”

My eyes widened in disbelief, but deep down I’d known something wasn’t right with him lately. But still, my dad? Mike Church? It just seemed so surreal.

You always know that your parents will die one day, but you can’t really grasp what that means before it happens. In fact, you can’t really grasp what it means after it happens. Losing those you love is very strange.

Mike and Me

My dad wasn’t like the dads my friends had growing up. Nor did he even come close to the kind of dad my children will have. But he was what God gave to me—and for that I am truly thankful.

In the early days of my life I remember curling up with him and falling asleep in his oversized red recliner he loved so much. He coached my sports teams, took us on vacations, and made sure to get us gifts we wanted at Christmas time. He tried to be a good dad, but he could only do that in his own strength for so long.

I was 11 when he left me, my mother, and my brother. He became a man of self-love and basically did as he pleased for the rest of his life. This kind of life with Mike Church wasn’t easy. There were years that he didn’t try to have a relationship with me, nor did he seem to care when I tried to have one with him. We were not his priority anymore. He was his own priority.

He thought this would make him happy. So he ran after it with all his heart, which is so sad, because it ended up being the very thing that made him so miserable and lonely. And it was my father’s misery that God used to soften my heart toward him.

The Changing of the Heart

When I was a freshman in college, the Lord convicted me about the way I felt toward my dad. Now you might think that I was angry at dad for what he had done to our family, but I wasn’t angry—I was apathetic. I seriously didn’t care. He had left us and I had no need to care about him.

The change began one evening after a conversation with a new friend. He wasn’t a Christian and was struggling to find happiness in his life. He’d been through hard things and was at a breaking point.

After my conversation with him, I went back to my dorm room with a heaviness like I had never experienced before. I began praying for him and pleading with God to save him. During that prayer I began to wonder how I could care so much about this person’s salvation, but not for my own father’s?

In many ways my new friend was much like my dad (he even shared his birthday). His self-centeredness didn’t make him easy to be friends with, but as he shared about his desire to find happiness, it softened me towards him. The Lord used that night to melt my heart and teach me not only what it meant to be broken over my friend’s salvation, but to begin to love my dad. Where my heart had once been so indifferent towards him, the Lord gave me a deep love for him. There is no explanation for this love except the grace of God.

A Father to the Fatherless

One of the first things God impressed on my heart was that if I was going to love my father, I was going to have to forgive all his sins against me. I had grown cold to the sting of those sins, but I knew they were there. In His mercy, God reminded me of how much He had forgiven me in Christ.

It was through this that God gave me grace to extend forgiveness to my father for all he had done to me. Jesus loved His enemies, and He called me to do the same (Luke 6:27-33). What I have found is that loving those who are difficult to love is only possible because the Lord does it for you as He works through you. My faith increased so much in those years, because I was certain the deep love I began to develop for my dad wasn’t my own love, it was the love Christ gave me.

The Lord also taught me that to love my father, my expectations would have to change. When I began to love him as a lost person and not a dad, it gave me freedom. I no longer expected Mike to be a real dad to me. He wouldn’t ever be that, unless God changed his heart. But this didn’t mean I would be without a father to care for me.

In Psalm 86:5 God promises that He would be a “Father to the fatherless.” Though my earthly father had abandoned me so many years ago, I have a heavenly Father who will never leave me or forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6). God had promised to supply every need of mine according to the riches in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19), and making me His daughter is the greatest of those riches.

The good news of the Gospel isn’t only that Jesus forgives my sin through faith in Him (which is amazing), but that He gave me grace to love my dad and gave me assurance that God would forever be my Father.

The Prayer Unanswered

Though God changed my heart toward dad in college, my prayers for his salvation had begun long before that. I knew he was a lost man and desperately needed Christ, just like I did. I wanted him to have freedom from the life he lived and the pain and loneliness I could see so clearly. I also became convinced that I was his daughter for this very purpose (Acts 17:24-30).

Because the Lord had so changed my heart toward my dad, I really believed that eventually he would see his need for a Savior. I believed he would look back over his life, see where he had failed, and find hope and forgiveness in the only place he could—Jesus!

I prayed for this almost daily. I didn’t know when it would happen, but I was certain it would. I struggled to trust the Lord in other areas, but I was sure that the Lord would hear the cry of my heart and let me see my dad come to know Him!

Because of this hope, I shared the gospel with my Father often. A month before he died, I sat in his house in tears as I shared the importance of loving God, knowing Christ, and knowing his need for Christ’s forgiveness. He wasn’t convinced. It broke my heart, but not my faith.

That proved to be the last face-to-face conversation I had with my dad. We only spoke on the phone a handful of times after that day, including the day I reminded him of my birthday.

When dad died I was certainly sad, but even more so, I was confused. Why did I not see God save my dad? Why did God change my heart toward my dad if it weren’t for the purpose of seeing him believe? What did this mean about God’s character if twenty years of prayers for my dad’s soul weren’t answered?

Peace in the Unanswered Prayer

Though I have many unanswered questions, the Lord has given me peace. Though my prayers were not answered in the way I had envisioned, my heavenly Father loves me more than I can imagine and I know that all He does is done in faithfulness (Psalm 33:4).

1. I have no regrets.

By the end, dad knew I loved him, and I knew he loved me as much as he was able. Dad also knew the Gospel. I don’t always do this well with others, but the Lord gave many opportunities for me to share the love of Jesus with him and I truly believe there was nothing left I could have said.

Sure, our conversations weren’t always easy and I often walked away discouraged, but by God’s grace I have no regrets today because I shared the Gospel with him. This has served as a great encouragement for me that I will never regret sharing the Gospel with someone—especially once they are gone.

2. I have hope in God’s mercy.

Because I had shared the Gospel, I can rest in the fact that dad knew where to go for mercy if he wanted it. I don’t know what the last few days of dad’s life were like. I wasn’t there when he died. But I do know that as long as someone has breath, they can cry out to God who delights in saving those who seek Him, even if it is with their final breath (Luke 23:42-43).

This peace did not come quickly for me. There were many days and nights of praying and questioning since his death, but God’s mercy gives me hope, no matter what happens.

3. I have trust in God’s greatness.

Though I don’t know that I will see my dad again, I know that I can trust in the great love and wisdom of my heavenly Father. Once I am in His presence in heaven, I know I will lack nothing. In this I rest and in this I hope. Until that day, I will take my anxious heart to His Word and find comfort in truths like this,

“O Lord, my heart is not lifted up; my eyes are not raised too high; I do not occupy myself with things too great and too marvelous for me. 2But I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me. 3O Israel, hope in the Lord from this time forth and forevermore.” Psalm 131

Losing my dad has been a sorrowful journey and one that will change my life forever. But my sorrow has been put to rest because the Lord has quieted my soul. He will hold me fast. He will hold me fast.

From Shamanism to Salvation – Nikki’s Story

Nikki (left) and Stephanie celebrating God's power over false gods following her baptism.

Nikki (left) and Stephanie celebrating God’s grace following her baptism.

On Sunday, I had the honor of baptizing a new sister in Christ named Nikki. This baptism was particularly special to me as her conversion was an answer to prayer.

I’ll explain more after you hear her story.

“I was born in Mongolia, a country under the strong influence of Shamanism, Buddhism and other folk religions. Growing up, my parents often visited the witch doctor because of my poor health when I was young. I wore protective amulets close to my heart and around my right ankle. They were my “saviors” and I trusted them to keep me safe and away from evil and harm.

I came to the US in September 2011 to study. During that time, I worked part-time at a dry-cleaners to practice my English. In December 2012, most customers would come by the shop to collect their clothes and as a courtesy ask “What are you doing for Christmas?” I would always respond that “I don’t celebrate Christmas”.

One day, a customer, Garrett, came to pick up his clothes and posed the same question. He followed up by asking about my family and invited me to his church after writing both his and Carrie’s name on a card. Come every Sunday, I would think about whether I should visit the church, but never did so. The following month, I was going through an extremely stressful time in my life and finally decided to visit Del Ray Baptist.

It seemed as though everyone there knew who I was and were extremely caring and welcoming. There, Carrie introduced me to Stephanie who I met on a weekly basis to study the Bible. At the end of one of our bible studies, Stephanie told me that “you cannot serve 2 masters” and challenged me to take off my protective amulets. I was so scared as I believed that if I took them off, I would die.

Stephanie continued to patiently pray with me, and taught me what the Gospel is and what it took to follow Jesus. I continued to question what Christianity was, thinking it was all crazy, but God was working on my heart and starting to change me.

In October 2013, I called my mother and told her I no longer believed in Shamanism and was now a Christian. It was one of the hardest decisions in my life as I knew that I was forsaking what my family and people believed and would face the ridicule of many of my Mongolian friends. Yet, Jesus is my true Savior, not those protective amulets or spirits.

As it says in Matthew 10:39 “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Jesus came to me in such a strong way that I could no longer deny Him. God has given me the courage to take off those amulets, I am still alive! and continues to protect and provide me in such amazing ways despite my circumstances. I am thankful that He loves me so much. What an amazing Father we have!

So I come here today to be baptized before you to say that I believe in Jesus as my Lord and Savior and I intend to follow Him for the rest of my life.”

 

Praise God for His great power over false gods!

God used my encounters with Nikki not only to save her soul, but also to encourage my own. I had been pretty discouraged with my personal evangelism in the days before I met Nikki. I felt like open doors for the Gospel had been nonexistent for several months, so I began to pray more fervently and committed to being bold with any small opening the Lord might give. After my first conversation with her, my wife and I regularly prayed for her salvation and dropped off clothes at the cleaners on days I knew she was working.

Once she visited the church, we had her over to our house with some friends who had done Gospel work in Mongolia and we encouraged others from the church to be praying for Nikki. I remember distinctly one Sunday while I was preaching and saw Nikki sitting next to Stephanie in the row behind my family and her face was beaming and head was nodding as she heard God’s Word proclaimed. There are few sweeter sights a preacher can see than that!

And as a pastor, I have fewer sweeter joys than to see the way our church has been used by the Lord through this whole process. Many have prayed for her, Stephanie has invested many hours of patient Gospel labor, and another single sister named Esther has recently rearranged her living situation so Nikki could move in with her. The Great Commission is always best carried out in a community where people are moved to show sacrifical love because they have first been loved so sacrifically by Jesus.

Having the honor to play a small part in the Lord extending mercy to one of His children is one of the most humbling and soul-refreshing experiences any of us can have. May God open many doors for us so the Gospel can go forth and many more false gods to be put in their place.

Also, keep Nikki in your prayers as she walks with her new Savior. Ask the Lord to encourage her, protect her, and give her opportunity to proclaim Jesus among her friends and family whom she loves very much.

“I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides me there is no God” Isaiah 45:5

 

 

The Toughest Conversation I’m Glad I Had

grandmom and granddad

    We weren’t sure when Grandpa woke up, but we knew it was long before the sun did. My earliest memories of him revolve around a small kitchen table where he sat each morning drinking coffee and reading the newspaper. The walls of his basement were decorated with World War II honors and pictures of his hunting victories. Locked gun cases held treasures we were only allowed to behold when Grandpa opened them for us.

     I learned my first curse words from my grandfather, who was sure to drop some colorful language in at least every other sentence. He could be an intimidating man, but his smile and belly laugh calmed our trepidation. His love for my grandmother was marked by service and tenderness I’ve rarely seen rivaled. He stood when she came into the room and attended to her every need.

      Granddad was an occasional churchman. His faith would have best been described as private. As our family’s patriarch he always prayed before meals, when  he’d take the opportunity to thank God for our country and blast whomever might be president at the time. I never saw him open a Bible and never heard him speak of Jesus, except when interjecting his name as an expletive.

 Weighty Awareness

      In 2011, my wife and I planned a trip to Wilmington, North Carolina, as part of our family’s summer vacation. We chose this spot because we love the beach, but mostly because my grandparents lived there, and we wanted them to meet our newborn son. Our family was buzzing as the days drew closer, but along with the anticipation, a weighty awareness rested on my heart. The Lord was calling me to share the gospel with Granddad.

      Though burdened for his salvation for years, I hadn’t enjoyed many in-person opportunities for that kind of conversation. Granddad was now in his 80s and, though not in bad health, I sensed the Lord had set apart this time for me to initiate an eternally important conversation with him.

      I guess I’m like anybody else when it comes to sharing the gospel. I believe the good news with all my heart, but whether it be fear of man or feelings of inadequacy, I still get anxious whenever I proclaim Christ’s name. The pending conversation with Granddad took my fear to another level, for several reasons.

      First, it was Grandpa. He was a man of steel, and I was scared to death to speak truth to someone who’d lived nearly four times as long as I had. He’d forgotten more than I’ll ever learn, and the thought of calling him to repent and believe in King Jesus made me so anxious I was nearly nauseous over it.

     Second, he claimed to be a Christian. He’d gone to church a billion times and heard as many sermons. He was a longstanding member of a Presbyterian church that appeared to be, to put it charitably, light on the gospel. Though Grandpa was a man of impeccable integrity and faithfulness, he didn’t display fruit that would be characterized as Christlike (Matt. 7:16; Gal. 5:22-23).

     Third, he was family. It’s always tough to share the gospel with family since they know all about you—the good, bad, and the real bad. Grandpa knew me when I was a womanizing cokehead who mocked religion and disgraced my family. Though Jesus has done a wonderful work in my life, I was still aware that Grandpa knew my past. And on this particular occasion, it haunted me.

     Before the trip, I prayed and asked others to do the same with the hope God would soften his heart and give me courage to speak truth. The Lord answered those prayers as on the last day of the trip I had a clear 30-minute gospel conversation with him. At first it was a little tough, but I believe the Lord blessed our time together.

     Though Grandpa raised numerous questions and shared some of his doubts, he expressed willingness to consider the news I’d relayed to him. Once I returned I sent him a letter addressing his questions, some selected Scriptures to consider, and a copy of my friend Mike McKinley’s excellent book Am I Really a Christian?. We had one follow-up conversation, during which he remarked, “I’ve never understood this ‘born-again’ thing, but I think I’m starting to get it.”

     Granddad died on December 17, 2012, with his wife of 55 years by his side. He’d requested to be cremated, and my grandmother fulfilled his request. I had the honor of leading a memorial service in his birthplace of Currituck, North Carolina.

Seed Sown

     In the days since Grandpa’s death, I’ve often wondered whether the seed sown upon his soul took root. I have hope that God brought about repentance and faith in my grandfather before he died, but I cannot be certain. What I can be certain of, however, is that the words of Scripture are true: “The fear of man is a snare” (Prov. 29:25).

     No matter what man we fear (even if it’s Grandpa), fear is a snare. Fear is a snare for us, and it’s a snare for those who need to hear the message that can save their souls. The gospel is the power of God for salvation (Rom. 1:16), and it is good news. Yet as Carl F. H. Henry observed, it is “only good news if it gets there in time.”

     I haven’t always obeyed the Lord’s call for me to share the gospel. To this day several scenes haunt my memory. I know, however, that although I’ve withheld the gospel from some, God’s mercy extends to me. His grace abounds to undeserving rebels like me.

     The conversation with my grandfather was one of the toughest I’ve ever had, but I’ve been sobered in the hindsight of his death. My fear appears quite shortsighted today, for at this moment he’s in eternity. He sees what we have only heard. Christ is more real to him now than when we sat at the kitchen table and read the Scriptures that pointed to the Lord of glory.

     I trust that on that last day when we all stand before that great judgment throne, the fear of man will be exposed for utter foolishness. The weightiness of eternity presses us into deeper dependence on Christ to do what he’s called us to do—while we still can. To be paralyzed by fear of human opinion, rather than stirred to declare the truth that can deliver from destruction, is a most saddening tradeoff.

     God has placed each of us in our families, neighborhoods, classrooms, and workplaces to be ambassadors of Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). We aren’t there by chance, and there is no time to waste. Pray for God to open doors for the gospel. Ask him to give you courage to speak his name.

     I’m convinced that one day, when standing before his Son, those tough conversations will be among those we’ll be eternally glad we had.

Scott’s Story – He Hated God, But God Loved Him Anyway

Scott (left) and Mark were long time friends. Now they are brothers for eternity.

Scott (left) and Mark were long time friends. Now they are brothers for eternity.

Scott hated God. But God loved him anyway. I recently had the honor of baptizing this former rebel in a public display of his new found devotion to Christ. Be encouraged by the testimony he shared with our church from the baptismal waters on Sunday. And be challenged to keep sharing the Gospel with those whom you’d least expect to one day love Jesus.

     For as long as I can remember I’ve believed in myself and looked to myself for guidance on everything in life. I thought if I just focus my efforts I could make myself loveable, likeable, competent, and just an all-around good person that others would affirm that I was in fact a pretty great person. With such a mindset, it’s not surprising to me now, nor probably to you, that my life was filled with anger, depression, self-loathing, and  a sharp distrust of others. Talk of God was a joke to me, albeit one that I tried to “respect” when I was in a good mood.

     During the last 10 years, I’ve lived with a Gospel-believing Christian friend Mark, who, during many “intellectual” and “philosophical” debates never hesitated to share his belief in God and Jesus’ work on the cross.  It sometimes infuriated me that such a well-meaning, otherwise rational person could hold fast to such irrational, self-demeaning nonsense.  I’d say “how can you love someone or count them as a friend when you honestly believe they deserve eternal damnation?”  And he would say it is out of love that he shares the Gospel with people in hopes that they would be saved from that.  So frustrating!

     But back in August, things began to change.  Mark and I met Claire, by complete chance (from my perspective at the time) at a bar in Old Town and we both were struck by her willingness to talk about God openly in such a situation, to Mark’s delight and, honestly, to my annoyance.  We all grew to become good friends over the following

months, though every time God was brought up I bristled.  I’ll admit, though, that I started to see something in their eyes that I hadn’t noticed before: a joy and a hope that I didn’t have and didn’t understand, and it made me curious.

      In January, I found myself in the midst of a brutal storm of loneliness and confusion. I felt like my self-sufficient little boat had been smashed on the rocks and I recognized that I

had no hope in anything other than myself and I was failing myself again and again. So, in tears at work, I texted Mark and asked him to teach me what faith is.

     Mark pointed my eyes in the direction of Christ.  He explained the crucifixion, and for the first time in my life, as I listened, the picture of Jesus on the cross became real to me.  I imagined His perfect life, His genuine love for people who treated Him with hostility and distrust, His patience with them, and the false accusations made against Him leading to

Him being nailed to a cross and mocked even as He was hanging there.  But more than the physical pain His Heavenly Father mercilessly poured His infinite wrath into Him on behalf of many people, including myself for the lies I’ve told, my lust for control over my own life, my slanderous attitude against Him for much of my life, my self-destructive tendencies, my anger, among so many other things. 

     I asked Mark to stop at this point so I could keep thinking more about what Christ had done and I prayed that God would show me the depth of my sins against Him. Every night

I prayed that I’d understand my sin which was helped by Mark and I watching John Piper’s sermons online. I was getting excited about reading the bible and hearing preaching here at Del Ray, but I still couldn’t call myself a Christian. 

     Mark asked if I understood the significance of the resurrection, and I told him I’d heard it, but I didn’t really feel like I understood it.  After he explained that without Christ’s return to life the penalty he took on the cross would’ve been meaningless, and we’d all continue to be under God’s judgment, it came together like two pieces of a puzzle. Later

that week I went to my window at work and repented of my many sins and asked for God’s mercy in the name of Jesus Christ.

     Since then I’ve been told, and I’ve noticed, that my anger has subsided considerably.  My cursing stopped without my conscious control.  My distrust of others began to erode,

not to the point of foolishness, but when you recognize the struggles of others and see your own difficulties in them it is impossible not to have love for them. God has also put me in several situations where I was asked to share His word with others – once with a random person at the dog park, and once with my dad prior to a surgery he recently had. 

     I felt blessed that God would allow me to speak about Him and point people in His direction. But most importantly, I’m grateful for what he has provided for me in my life.  I am grateful that He called me to Him through two of my best friends.  I am grateful that He has given me a growing love for His word.  I pray in hope that I am suitable soil and

that He will never let me go back to self-worship.  I want to be baptized today as a public gesture of my faith in Christ and His work, and as a reminder of the death that I deserve and the life that I have been given, justified by Him in the eyes of the Father, and washed clean of my guilt by His blood and the movement of the Spirit.

Praise God for His mercy. Praise God for faithful friends who share the Gospel. Go tell somebody about the good news that Jesus saves sinners.

A Christian Man’s Travel Plan

Traveling away from home seems to provide a unique time of temptation for me. Maybe it’s because I’m out of my routine or away from my family, but I find myself more susceptible to laziness, lust, and other kinds of deadly sins. To help fight it, I keep three basic things on my mind when I travel: family, purity, and ministry.

Family

Whenever I’m gone, I want to make sure my family knows that I love them and that I’m thinking about them. I do this with phone calls, but I also do a couple other things.

  1. For my wife I write her a card for each day I’ll be gone. The card usually has a short prayer or a couple sentences telling her something I love about her, and then a verse of Scripture. It takes about 20 minutes to do these cards (depending on how long the trip is) and I’m pretty sure it blesses her more than I realize.
  2. For the kids, I try to rally them together before I leave and show them on a map where I’m going. I ask them to pray for me while I’m gone and tell them what I plan to do while I’m there. I don’t always leave them something to open when I’m away, but I always bring them something back to let them know they were on my mind while I was there.

Purity

I know that while I travel I will face temptations in ways that I don’t always when I’m at home. I may be a pastor, but I’m still just a dude, so I’ve got to be on guard. To do this, I make sure of the following:

  1. I’m prayed up. I do my best to intentionally ask God to protect me during my trip from wandering heart, wandering eyes, and wandering feet. While I travel, I strive with extra effort to have solid devotional times. It is easy to neglect this discipline when I’m on the road because of the change in my routine, but there’s always excuses to not draw near to Christ—so I fight it fervently. Keeping my eyes on Him is my only hope to honor God, so I do my best to draw daily upon His grace during my trips.
  2. I’m partnered up. I don’t like traveling alone, but when I have to, I enlist several brothers to help me. These men know my weaknesses and have committed to pray for me while I’m gone—and sometimes they’ll even check in on me during my trip. I’ve been 100% transparent with these brothers about my struggles and they know the tough questions to ask me when I’m gone. I’m too weak to fight this fight alone, so I’m thankful for these brothers who keep me accountable.
  3. I’m planning to kill the TV. As soon as I step into the hotel room I unplug the TV and promise God I won’t plug it back in. Me + hotel room + TV = trouble, so I don’t flip through the channels—and I don’t give myself the chance. I also don’t get the internet in my hotel room. I figure people lived without the .com for a really long time and I can go to the lobby if I really need it. God tells me to make no provision for my flesh and I have to obey Him (Rom. 13:14).

Ministry

While most of my trips are ministry related, there are some basic things I try to do, just because I’m a Christian.

  1. I pray for God to set up divine appointments. Regardless of why I travel or where I travel, I am an ambassador for the King of Glory (2 Cor. 5:20). In light of this, I ask Him to set up encounters with people He wants me to talk to about Him. Whether it be on the plane, in a taxi, in a restaurant, at the hotel, or wherever I am, I ask Him to make me attentive to the people He has placed around me. I pray for Him to open doors for me to share the Gospel and to point people to Jesus. We must always be available to be used by Him. Ask Him to set up divine appointments.
  2. I bring a tract and an extra bible. One of the things I’ve found to be profitable is to have a copy of a non-goofy tract like 2 Ways To Live that helps people understand the Gospel message. I don’t always use it when I’m sharing the Gospel, but I do think it’s good to leave something with them to read after our conversation is over. I also bring a pocket sized bible that I can part with, so I don’t have to decide if I am willing to part with my personal Bible in the case that someone needs a copy of God’s Word.

These are a few basic things that I try to make sure I do each time I travel. Please let me know of other ideas you have about traveling as a Christian man. May God be honored in our lives, wherever we may go.

What St. Francis Really Said About Preaching the Gospel

If you’ve ever talked with a Christian about evangelism, you’ve probably heard the now famous words attributed to St. Francis of Assisi that go something like  “preach the Gospel at all times, use words if necessary.”

That sure sounds sweet, but did St. Francis really say that?

This slogan is actually an apparent misquote of what Francis said in chapter 17 of his Rules of the Friar (1221). Here’s the quote in full:

Ch. 17 — Of Preachers.

“Let none of the brothers preach contrary to the form and institution of the holy Roman Church, and unless this has been conceded to him by his minister. But let the minister take care that he does not grant this leave indiscreetly to anyone. Nevertheless, let all the brothers preach by their works. And let no minister or preacher appropriate to himself the ministry of brothers or the office of preaching, but let him give up his office without any contradiction at whatever hour it may be enjoined him. Wherefore I beseech in the charity which God is all.”

So, what St. Francis told his friars was not to preach unless they had received proper permission to do so. And that even if they didn’t get to preach, he wanted to make sure that “all the brothers preach by their works.”

I don’t post this to defend St. Francis and his theology. To be honest, I’ve never read anything else he’s ever said (except some of his bird sermons). I do know however that somewhere along the line, someone stretched what he said into something Jesus and the Scriptures never say.

We must preach the Gospel at all times, and to do that we must use words. We can’t preach by our deeds. Even St. Francis used words when he preached to the birds.

We can affirm the message of the Gospel by our deeds – and we must do this, but we can’t live the message clearly enough to help people know that we aren’t just moral atheists or Hindus or Muslims or Mormons. Jesus, the Word made flesh, used words to clearly state that people must believe in Him or die in their sin.

The way people know who Christ is, what He requires of them, and why we live the way we do is to proclaim, with words, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

So, preach the Gospel at all times, and since its necessary, use words.