What an impact the School of Evangelism has had in the lives of guests and staff! Sadly, many churches today do not know how to train the flock in evangelism. The School of Evangelism exists to give believers solid theological foundation in evangelism and practical in-field experience telling others about Jesus. According to Chris Byrd, who led the instruction for the week: “The School of Evangelism is for everybody. People who have never done evangelism before, who are terrified at the thought of it; people who have done evangelism regularly, love evangelism… so it’s for the inexperienced and the experienced. Those who are new in their faith, maybe feeling weak in their faith—and those who are mature in their faith.”
The week began with an emphasis on prayer. On the very first day Chris Byrd taught about the Lord’s Prayer and not only how it is God-focused but also how it carries an evangelistic focus. That mindset of prayer carried on, not just that first day, but in the middle and end of the week as well, stressing the fact that all our labor is in dependence on God and not our own strength.
But why does the Boardwalk Chapel focus so much on prayer? What is our prayer accomplishing? Prayer, specifically as it relates to evangelism, is all we can hold on to if we want any hope at all of seeing fruit. God alone has the power to transform hearts and minds—God alone can give Christians the right words to say to those out on the Boardwalk. So we would be fools to neglect asking the One who guides and controls all of our lives, to use our labors to draw people to himself. We saw God answering prayers this week. Witnessed it with our very eyes and ears. We wrestled in prayer and God listened. God heard our prayers and let his name be proclaimed, glorified, and called upon.
Several staff members spoke with people who called on the name of the Lord. These we trust are converts—hopeful converts, until they show the fruit of the Spirit—and praise God! Sometimes the seed of the Word fell on stony ground. Sometimes, thorny ground. But the prayers continue. ‘Lord, do not let your Word go out in vain. Lord, use that tract in her life, even if it is many years from now. Lord, show yourself mighty to save.’ Taylor, a guest, remarked on how surprised he was at the openness of strangers, the willingness to listen. “I was amazed at how many people were willing to open up and share their life stories. From a guy who just got out of prison, five years for drug crimes, and like, was sorry about his sin, knew about Jesus, but didn’t know how to connect those ideas–and that was amazing. Or, seeing a guy who was just joking around and scoffing about the Gospel, and saying he’s Jewish, turning around and asking serious questions, to taking a Bible just two minutes later–like, really convicted by Chris talking with him.There’s so much spiritual need out there that we’re just not even aware of.”
God hears our prayers. He listens. He welcomes us into his presence. And he alone has the power to transform hearts.
We have seen God at work. He is mighty. His Word is powerful. For those who have never done evangelism, it is tempting to think that it is useless, that people in the 21st century are just too hard to witness to, that God does not save. But he does. And his word is just as powerful, just as convicting, his grace just as irresistible as in the time of the early church. Yes, the hearts of men are stony and uninterested in hearing of Christ’s work on the cross. But do we serve a weak God? No! Hearts of men were stony and uninterested since the Fall. Our job is not to go out and save souls—that is God’s work. Our job is to go forth into the world and tell everyone what God has done. And God will use us how he will. God will save whom he will. We must obey. It is for our sanctification.