Summary: Just as Mario has been struggling with his English, and I have struggled with my Spanish, my guess is that many of you are struggling with learning another language. It’s called the language of evangelism.
Becoming Y2F Compliant
As you may know, Beth and I spent the last three years in Mexico City working as church planters. My primary activity was to offer English classes to business people. I taught for a computer company called Silicon Graphics, and also held classes at Pepsi Cola. One day, in one of my classes at Pepsi, I was trying to help my student imagine what his family members might be doing at that very moment.
For instance, I asked Mario, “What do you think your father is doing right now?” Mario thought for a moment and said, “I think my father is reading the newspaper.” Good job, I encouraged him. “Now, what is your mother doing right now?” Mario answered, “I think she is cooking dinner.” Outstanding. “What is your wife doing right now?” By this time, Mario was feeling very confident and didn’t hesitate in his reply, “My wife is eating our baby.” Trying to hold back my laughter, I gently corrected him by having him repeat after me, “My wife is feeding our baby.” He told me he understood so I asked him one final question, “And what is your baby doing right now?” Feeling the flow now, Mario answered, “My baby is eating my wife.”
At this point, I didn’t think I could control myself so I very quickly said, “Good job, now let’s move on to the next section of our lesson.” I don’t know how much English I taught my students but it at least provided some comic relief!
Just as my students struggled with their English, I had my share of difficulties with Spanish. Several months ago, I took Becky (our 4-year-old) and our guinea pig named Muzzy out for a walk to the Vet so that we could get his toenails cut. Becky found a little purse that we crammed Muzzy into, and we were off. When we got to the Vet’s office, I asked her if she could cut Muzzy’s toenails. Or, at least that’s what I thought I asked her. After she asked me to repeat my request three times, I realized my mistake. Instead of asking her to trim some toenails, I was asking her if she could cut Muzzy’s toes off! Maybe she thought I was serious because after all, he was a Guinea Pig!
Just as Mario has been struggling with his English, and I have struggled with my Spanish, my guess is that many of you are struggling with learning another language. It’s called the language of evangelism. Some of you would rather have your toes cut off than share your faith with someone.
In fact, to borrow from the title of the new Star Wars movie, the evangelical church in America is suffering from Phantom Evangelism. A phantom is an illusion -- something that exists only in the mind. Even though we consider ourselves evangelicals, the truth of the matter is that for many of us, evangelism is something that we value in our minds, but not necessarily in our lifestyle.
When Jesus gave the Great Commission to His followers, it was an uncategorical command to everyone, not to just a few who enjoyed evangelism. If you and I are to call him Lord, then we, too, must accept that evangelism is one of the things that we must do.
The sinners of Pontiac have no hope without Christ. And they are not likely to be brought to faith in Christ through institutions or events, by books or TV programs. You are their best chance of helping them escape the clutches of hell. We have the daunting privilege of ushering undeserving people into God’s eternal presence.
I really believe that most of you sincerely want to talk about Christ with your families, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. You have the desire, but it doesn’t always work out. In the hustle and bustle of life, our encounters with people are brief and fleeting. We hurl past one another like speeding chariots on an old Roman road.
This morning I’d like to camp in Acts 8. We will see that the account of Philip’s discussion with the Ethiopian Eunuch is a story of divine appointment -- of a seized opportunity to share the Good News. If you have your Bibles, please turn to the book of Acts.
1 - Preparation
We’re introduced to Philip in Acts 6. You remember the story, don’t you? As the early church was beginning to experience growth, the disciples realized that they were dropping the ball by not caring for the widows among them. So seven men were chosen who were known to be full of the Spirit and wisdom. Among these seven men, who were the first deacons of the early church, was a man named Philip.
Friends, the first key phase of evangelism is preparation. Philip had the job of making sure that those women who no longer had husbands were not overlooked. I’m sure he worked hard at his new responsibility. His job was not very glorious and he probably didn’t receive many accolades, but he was faithful.