Wow, if my records are correct I have not compiled an evangelist report since December 2016! “Compiled” being the optimum word. In 2017 I wrote a number of posts here at WordPress about various events in my work. Sometime during this past year, I also began a private Facebook group titled Think Souls Without Ceasing, combining the evangelistic theme I’ve adopted in my work of Think Souls and the exhortation of 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing;”. The goal of this Facebook group is to encourage members of the body of Christ to encourage and find encouragement in one another’s personal evangelistic efforts through prayer. Participants are encouraged to share their goals to grow in evangelism, their hopes and fears in evangelism, their efforts to participate in evangelism and the fruits of their evangelism. This has now taken up most of the time I give to writing about events in my work, which has slowed my posts here.
I’ve made the Facebook group private and invited only my Facebook friends I’m fairly confident have obeyed the gospel biblically. My reason for this is that the focus of the group is to encourage its participants to share the gospel of Jesus with the lost in their lives with a biblical plea to obedience to it (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Though I am grateful for everyone who shares the biblical gospel of Jesus (Mark 9:38-40), it grieves my heart that so many obstruct it’s saving message, an obstruction I cannot in good faith, encourage to be spread. What I mean is this, the fundamental message of the gospel of Jesus Christ is salvation through faith in the justifying work of Jesus death on the cross of Calvary (Rev. 1:5). The power God exercises through the gospel to save us (Romans 1:16) is realized only through our submissive, penitent participation with Jesus in His death, burial and resurrection through water baptism in Jesus name (Colossians 2:11-13; Acts 2:38). To teach anything else, like forgiveness of sins through penitent prayer, is nowhere represented in the scriptures. To teach the lost of the saving message of Jesus only to erringly encourage them to falsely claim salvation through prayer, short of being united with Jesus and washed of one’s sins in His blood (Romans 6:1-11, Acts 22:16) is at best a shame and at worst sinful. Teaching that baptism is important after one is saved, is not the purpose of baptism I see in these scriptures or any others addressing it (Galatians 3:26,27, et. al.). Where I want to encourage all who believe in Jesus to live for Him, I do not want to encourage people who obstruct biblical salvation to spread that teaching.
If as a reader my words somehow confuse or offend you, I hope will contact me for interchange on this topic. If we get everything else right in our application of scripture, but do not get this right, we are not united with Jesus, do not have our sins forgiven by this blood, are not children of God and are not saved! This, the gospel of Jesus Christ and biblical obedience to it, is the most fundamental truth of our faith and the only foundation upon which a saving faith can be built. This topic needs to be understood biblically for either of our futures to be secure in Christ and resulting in a true hope of a home in Heaven with God. Please re-read the passages I’ve shared carefully and contact me for more interchange on the subject. I am praying for our understanding (Ephesians 4:1-6).
For me, this past year has been full of conversations about the Lord with a variety of members of several Southern California communities. As I shared in another WordPress post, thirty-eight of these conversation included some form of sharing the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:1-8) with nine also including an appeal to obey it. I am unsure of the exact number of souls whom I saw obey, but it is something like three or four (1 Corinthians 1:16,17).
This year has brought increased partnership in my work with congregations contacting me affirming their prayers and financial support. It has also brought an increase in individual members partnering in my work through prayer, doing outreach together and financial support.
Several new avenues of evangelistic outreach have provided interesting experiences in new ways to connect with the community. One I’ve labeled “Shopping Cart Service,” and another “Bus Stop Benevolence” (I just made up these titles as I typed this report :)). In Shopping Cart Service, brethren walk around parking lots where customers bring their goods to their vehicles with a shopping cart. After they have unloaded and are ready to take the cart to a cart receiver or leave it in the parking spot next to their car :(, brethren walk up offering to take their cart for them, while giving them a spiritual tract about how God and His church care for them. Bus Stop Benevolence is another tract based outreach where brethren stand near bus stops handing out free small bottles of water and tracts about how God and His church care for them.
This past year I have continued what I call Soul Walks, where I walk through communities seeking people to talk to about the Lord. This has extended from the Anaheim community I live in to neighboring towns where other congregations of the Lord’s church (Matthew 16:18) are located – i.e. Long Beach, Norwalk and La Verne. When I go out of town, I have been doing so on Wednesdays. I try to arrive in the neighborhood of the meeting house in early afternoon and then just begin walking and talking to whomever I meet. Then I join that congregation’s mid-week Bible study. These efforts have resulted in many gospel presentations, one of which produced a conversion. The other two studies affirmed two men’s salvation and were followed by personal studies aimed at helping them leave denominationalism and join themselves to a biblical assembly. Other results of these efforts include partnering with Bruce Monroe of the La Verne congregation a couple of times in souls walks, opportunity to lead a group four La Verne young adults in an evidences study, a study with a ministry couple from a denomination, and invitation from the Adam’s Street church in Riverside California to lead a series of evangelistic improvement studies beginning February 2018.
Another new avenue of evangelistic outreach that I engaged in this past year was passing out New Testaments on college campuses. Using the We Care New King James New Testament, which has a gospel presentation chain referenced through its scriptures, I approached college students asking them about their faith and inviting them to personal Bible study with me or/and a survey of the chain study on their own. Each student who accepted the Bible survey committed themselves to provide me feedback the following week via text or email. There were probably twenty students who took the Bibles, only one of which re-contacted me. All however have a copy of the New Testament, an outline of the gospel and how to obey it to be saved, our conversation and other resources found in the back. I am stronger in faith because of the interaction too!
Leon Sims of the Anaheim church and his wife Sandy had a bunch of candy left over from Halloween which Janice Shelton of the Anaheim church and I put in goody bags along with a spiritual tract and delivered to students at a local College.
Still another avenue of sharing the gospel that I took advantage of in 2017 was various internet based buy and sell groups. Once in awhile I post things on Craig’s List and other sale sites. When potential buyers text me for more information or to make an offer, I invite them to walk with the Lord and share a series of scriptures presenting the gospel and obedience to it to them. Sometimes I also include an invitation to the Anaheim assembly. Most text me a thank you. A few have a little more interchange and those who show up to pick up items receive an invitation to a personal gospel presentation.
Three or four months this summer, I helped the Anaheim church do devotional outreach in the park. Each time we hand delivered something like a thousand invitations to the neighborhoods around the meeting house. The outreach included singing mixed with four or five short devotional thoughts from different Anaheim men. Only one visitor came as the result of our efforts, but several repeat contacts were made in the community as well as a couple of Bible studies.
This Sunday I begin leading a series of Sunday morning Bible studies at Anaheim dealing with the non-miraculous gifts the church continues to possess today and how to use them to improve our unity with one another and service to God.
The lost continue being invited, souls are being saved, disciples are being mentored and the church equipped!
Thank you for your continued support of my ministry and family. You mean very much to us!
Keep thinking souls!
Love in Christ,