“Oh, that God would make us dangerous!”
This was a prayer written by one of my heroes, Jim Elliot. In 1952, he moved to Ecuador as a missionary, and while stepping out dangerously, to share Jesus, he was killed. Jim’s prayer was answered.
What is a little danger to our comfort, reputation, even our lives if others might come to know Jesus?
I have always been outrageously sensible, the type of person that keeps off the grass because signs have told me that I ought to. But, despite this, I’ve started to pray, like Jim, that I would become more dangerous, because I think that’s what living radically for Jesus means.
Jesus is good news. What is a little danger to our comfort, reputation, even our lives if others might come to know Him?
This zeal for danger has led me to street evangelism.
I don’t know what you think when you hear those words. The first time I did street mission, I was terrified. I’d gone out with a Healing on the Streets team in my hometown. As we prayed for opportunities to share Jesus and pray for healing, I remember praying under my breath, “don’t send anyone to me, please”.
The heartbeat of the early church was for sharing Jesus, seeking signs and wonders, and praying for healing on the streets.
But street evangelism is prolific in the New Testament. In Luke 10, we hear of Jesus sending out the disciples, expecting healing and salvation. Throughout Acts, from Pentecost onward, street evangelism is commonplace. The heartbeat of the early church was for sharing Jesus, seeking signs and wonders, and praying for healing on the streets.
Danger has always been a hallmark of God’s people. Like Jim Elliot, many have been persecuted, even killed, for their faith. But we see the Kingdom grew as signs and wonders followed them, and people came to know Jesus.
Street evangelism is in our DNA as the church. It’s part of our God-given mandate to share Jesus.
But that doesn’t stop it from being hard, so where do we begin?
Here are some tips from what I’ve learnt:
- Pray. 1 Corinthians 3:7 tells us that ‘only God gives the growth’; prayer recognises our need for dependence on God as he powerfully answers prayer. We can expect to see God move when we pray.
- Use the family. One of the most beautiful aspects of our salvation is that we are saved into a supportive family of believers. Street evangelism can be tough: it can be wrought with rejection, and sometimes aggression. When we go onto the streets together, as family, we know that we’re not alone whatever happens.
- Know your story. Every person’s testimony speaks of the power of God to change lives. Get familiar with the story of how you met Jesus and get ready to share it – it could change someone else’s story too!
- Be kind. In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter encourages us to share our faith ‘with gentleness and respect’. Be kind to people: don’t walk in their way; don’t thrust leaflets at them; don’t force them to talk. If you get a chance for a conversation, listen carefully, be kind.
- Work alongside the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is at work and we can ask him to reveal people with open hearts, and for words to speak into their lives. A few years ago, a word of knowledge allowed me to minister to a student and see him healed of deafness in one ear. Listening to God’s promptings allowed me to minister when, otherwise, I might have walked on.
- Be yourself. God made you for a reason, and He will use the gifts and personality that you have, if you let Him. If you’re creative, be creative. If you’re chatty, be chatty. Step out in faith with what God’s given you and, just like the feeding of the 5,000, God will multiply it.
- Remember it’s about obedience. God delights in you, no matter what. He calls for obedience to His call to share Him, but He doesn’t call for your success. He’s the one who gives the growth, remember? So, relax: God’s got it.
Street evangelism can be so many things: daunting, exhilarating, even dull. But it is necessary.
Every person’s testimony speaks of the power of God to change lives.
My prayer, no matter your feelings, is that you would recognise the opportunity of street evangelism. I pray that you would fully know the radical, dangerous Jesus, and give your life so that others might know Him too.
So join me in my rallying call to live dangerously and whole-heartedly for Jesus. Join me on the streets, proclaiming Jesus, and seeing the signs and wonders that follow.
Join me as I pray: Oh, that God would make us more dangerous!