PO Box 26055
Anaheim, CA 92825
A big thank you to each of you for your support of God’s work through my ministry! I pray you will be encouraged by this report, to give thanks to God for His mighty works in His children and to talk to people in your life about Jesus’ saving work for them (Lk. 19:10, Mt. 28:18).
Who’d Have Thought…
Who’d have thought that working in a public school, you could discuss and recommend prayer to the parents of troubled students, and not be reprimanded?
Who’d have thought that while dining at a fast food restaurant, a fellow customer’s need for a fork, could have presented an opportunity to mention God to him?
Who’d have thought that while waiting on a car wash, an encounter with a fellow patron could have included a word about God?
Who’d have thought that while shopping for a bed mattress with your mom, that sharing a reference with your salesman about a Bible story could initiate a conversation between him and another salesman about each others Bible knowledge?
Who’d have thought that while coaching a girls softball team, a general conversation with one of the parents could lead to a discussion about spiritual things?
Who’d have thought that regular chit chats with a coworker, could be turned into a discussion about salvation, and this while at work no less?
Who’d have thought that a trip to the dentist could generate a conversation about God with the dentist?
Who’d have thought that a conversation with a neighbor, while working in your back yard could provide opportunity to speak to him about heaven?
Who’d have thought that an errand to pick up propane, could result in a discussion with a person of a different religion, about needing to accept Jesus as the only way to God?
Who’d have thought these things? An increasing number of saints, including our Anaheim, California, brethren, that’s who! The scenarios shared above are real scenarios shared by the Anaheim brethren during evangelistic sharing times before weekly classes. Thank the Lord for Christians willing to open their eyes to the opportunities all around them to share their faith in God with others! Are your eyes open to the opportunities God is giving you to share Him with others? I pray they will be. I pray also that you will find the humility and courage to try and share Jesus in those opportunities.
The true testimonies shared here are a result of an effort the Anaheim church is putting forth to encourage one another to consider the many opportunities God gives each of us to share Him with the world around us. Time is given in our Evangelism Fellowship class and two Open Bible Study classes for sharing these personal accounts. The practice is proving to be very stimulating.
It seems to me that one of the obvious first steps to increasing our effectiveness in sharing the good news of Jesus with others is growing in our awareness of the opportunities God affords each of us to use.
You are encouraged to begin considering how many opportunities you have to leave a little bit of God with people, even if its just, “God bless you” or “God has blessed us with a beautiful day”. How many times in a day could you interject God into your conversations? Start thinking about it and it will likely surprise you!
Equipping the Saints…Since arriving in Anaheim, the following works have taken shape in an effort to renew an evangelistic heart in the brethren here.
Weekly Evangelism Fellowship meetings have been initiated, with participants coming to discuss many facets of evangelism. Discussion includes: 1. Personal efforts in trying to increase our ability to see daily opportunities for sharing Jesus, 2. personal evangelistic experiences, 3. effective ways to initiate spiritual conversation and personal Bible studies with others, 4. a consideration of some of the many evangelistic materials that are available and 5. personal examples of their effective use.
Another work is Open Bible Study (OBS) Training classes. These are conducted on Sunday and Thursday nights at the Anaheim building. Classes have participants studying through Ivan Stewart’s Open Bible Study conversion materials. I have led these classes until recently, in order to introduce all of the components of the study. Leading the class has now transitioned to a rotation among the willing men of the Anaheim congregation. Each class period is conducted as if the teacher were leading the one brother or sister they address a given question to, in a personal study. The rest of the participants act as personal teachers helping with that question. Each class participant eventually ends up playing the role of student in a personal study. This gives teachers an opportunity to be exposed to how to communicate the material to a variety of student types.
Evangelistic Perception sharing is another effort Anaheim is involved in. Evangelistic Perception Sharing involves brethren sharing personal stories about opportunities they have had to mention God to others through the week, whether they have made use of the opportunities or not. Regularly sharing these experiences with one another is proving encouraging. At least three benefits to this effort are: 1. Causing listeners to become more aware of opportunities around them to share God, 2. Helping the sharers and listeners consider what more could have been said in each instance and 3. Helping participants find courage to step out in faith and say something about God to others. Time is given in each Evangelistic Fellowship meeting and before each OBS class for this sharing. Also encouraged during this sharing time is sharing passages of scripture from our daily Bible reading that caused us to think about evangelism somehow.
A fourth effort being practiced is door to door canvasing. Two local brethren and I have visited forty houses, resulting in nine study discussions of Mat. 7:13-14 and 21-23 and various other passages. Three active self led studies of OBS and three additional personal OBS studies, with the potential for involving up to six people, have also resulted from this effort.
If door to door canvasing is the least effective way to evangelize, as some have said, imagine what could be done with the more effective ways. Also, the benefits of doing door to door canvasing are more than finding people willing to study the Bible. Other benefits to canvasing door to door are: 1. learning how to initiate spiritual conversation (break the ice) with a variety of types of people, 2. participants learning just how many people in our communities are willing to discuss spiritual things openly, 3. developing courage in sharing one’s faith with a variety of people and 4. realizing how rewarding and empowering it is to share your faith with others! There are surely more.
Soul Walks have also been participated in. Brethren venturing out on Soul Walks go anywhere they please and determine to be aware of and engage the souls they come across, in spiritual conversation. The purpose is not necessarily to engage everyone we see in the street, but being ready to engage, on some spiritual level, those we pass near by. One goal of these walks is to initiate personal Bible studies. Other goals are similar to the benefits mentioned in door to door canvasing above. A local sister and I, as well as she and her husband, have participated in these walks since my arrival in the later half of February. Matthew 7:13 and 14, John 6, gospel obedience for salvation and invitations to personal and online Bible studies have been shared with a dozen or so people on these walks.
Two Community Outreach Studies have also been conducted with three brethren in attendance. Community Outreach Studies involve brethren meeting some place public for Bible study. These places often include fast food restaurants. Participants go unannounced and unadvertised and place a handwritten sign on the table saying something like, “Join our Bible study.” There is one active personal Bible study currently in progress that was initiated this way.
Personal Conversion Studies are another element and goal in the evangelistic training process that have begun in Anaheim. All of the efforts already mentioned, have as part of their goals, initiating Personal Conversion Studies. What qualifies as a Personal Conversion Study is brethren engaged in the study of scriptures about salvation with someone they have not yet biblically identified as being saved. At the writing of this report, three such studies are in progress – one with a co-worker, one with a door to door canvasser from another religion and one study from a contact made while out in the community. Personal studies offer the opportunity to grow in evangelism as a personal teacher or teacher’s helper.
The aim of my work, as I am currently approaching it, is to help establish a core of brethren, in every congregation the Lord allows me to visit, active in reaching the lost and committed to intentionally discipling new converts. Brethren in any given local assembly who will continue provoking that assembly to be evangelistic, by their example, long after I’m gone. I’m visiting congregations to evangelize with them, not for them. I’m approaching the work as a mentor, taking brethren with me to gain experience in the evangelistic work I teach and preach. I hope to help every willing member find their active place in evangelizing their world. I believe much can be achieved toward this end with long term visits/short term relocations. I also see great advantage in staying with a work, if possible, until it shows signs of being self sustaining.
At this writing, the work in Anaheim seems to be bearing witness to the validity of the aim and approach stated above.
Five weeks into the work here in Anaheim, brethren are reporting an ever increasing awareness of their opportunities to evangelize their world (first step). They are also reporting greater courage to make the most of those opportunities, closest to them, by engaging people in spiritual discussions (second step) and Bible study about salvation (third step). A fourth step in the process of growing in personal evangelism is intentionally mentoring new Christians, which we anticipate doing in the near future.
The Anaheim brethren would like to see our evangelistic efforts grow the church meeting in Anaheim on Orange Ave. Whether that happens or not, the goal here is every willing member to do the work given us, of proclaiming the excellencies of God (1 Peter 2:9). And to do this by sowing the seeds of the kingdom (Luke 8:11). Our ultimate goal is not to fill the Anaheim meeting house with Christians, but to increase the Kingdom of God, wherever new converts may assemble. When we sow God’s word in the hearts of men, the kingdom of God (the rule and reign of God in men’s lives) will grow. Some of the fruit of this growth may be Christians added to the Anaheim assembly, and we welcome that. Other aspects of the fruit of this work are: 1. an increase in active evangelistic workers (Mat. 9:37-38), 2. maturity of workers in evangelism (Col. 4:5,6; 1 Pet. 2:9,10, 3:15), 3. an increase in the seed of the Kingdom being sown (Mat. 13:19), 4. community awareness of the church’s love for God and them (Mat. 5:16), 5. the lost seeing Christ’s avenue of salvation plainly (Act. 8:4; 2 Tim. 3:16,17), and 6. new Christians receiving intentional discipling (Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 10:24,25; 12:12-17).
Though I fully anticipate conversions, with Christians doing the work of sowing the word of God, I wonder if conversions are a fruit to measure our progress by, or if they are solely a measurement of God’s progress with men of which He gives us a part (1 Cor. 3:5-8; 1 Cor. 1:17)?
My heart toward you is expressed well by Paul’s words, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, making mention of you in our prayers; constantly bearing in mind your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the presence of our God and Father, knowing, brethren beloved by God, His choice of you;” 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4.
May our testimony of one another’s faith be like that of the Thessalonians, “…so that you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. For the word of the Lord has sounded forth from you, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith toward God has gone forth, so that we have no need to say anything.” 1 Thessalonians 1:7,8.
God’s grace and peace be with you all,