Summary: Is there only one way to share our faith? Or can a baseball player, a prostitute and a shoe shop owner teach us something of the variety of ways out there. Preached Easter Sunday 2018 at St Barnabas Northolt Park
A former crazy woman.
Possibly… probably(?).... a prostitute
Would this be an obvious person to pick as an evangelist?
“Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples “I have seen the Lord” and she went and told them that he had said these things to her” (John 20:18)
I wonder if you think of yourself as an “obvious evangelist”?
Peter and The Beloved Disciple were obvious evangelists. They were two of the twelve who were closest to Jesus. When Mary Magdalene encounters the empty tomb, her first response is to run and tell someone. She finds Peter and the beloved disciple and tells them and they look… and as verse 10 tells us “they returned to their homes”
Ex-crazy woman, ex working-girl scores ten out of ten for sharing the faith.
Respectable Peter, the rock on whom Jesus says he will build his church, and John, the disciple whom Jesus loves, score a big fat zero. Yes later on Peter will go on to be this great preacher on the day of Pentecost, blah de blah, but the first evangelist, the apostle to the apostles, is the one whom no one would have expected.
Do you think of yourself as an “obvious evangelist” - because in the bible it can be the least obvious people who turn out to be the best evangelists.
The woman at the well - someone with a scandalous past who has been ostracized by her village, rushes to tell them about the life changing encounter she has had with Jesus and wins the first non-Jewish converts.
Mary, a pregnant unmarried teenager, rushes to tell Elizabeth, her “elder and better” the good news of what God has done in her life.
The Ethiopian Eunuch, a man whose foreignness and lack of certain body parts means he can never enter the Temple, becomes the first person to take the Gospel to Africa and founds a church that is still going today.
If you think you are not an obvious evangelist, what is God saying to you?
Edward Kimball was probably a bit like you. He was an ordinary Christian who taught Sunday school in his church and made a living down at the shoe store. One day Edward determined that he was going to look for an opportunity to explain the gospel to a salesman named Dwight, who had just joined the staff.
Edward was nervous. He hemmed and hawed and paced back and forth. Dwight was in the back room putting shoes away. Finally Edward mustered up his courage and launched into the story of Jesus birth, death, and resurrection. That day Dwight gave his life to Christ.
Dwight is better known as D.L. Moody, who went on to become one of the greatest evangelists of the late 19th century. The story doesn’t stop there. One day Moody was preaching, and a pastor named FB Meyer was listening. He was deeply stirred and went on to establish a nationwide preaching ministry. Later, while Meyer was preaching, a young man in the audience named Wilbur Chapman accepted Christ.
Chapman later felt the call to evangelism. As he was proclaiming the gospel in various places, he decided he needed some help. He knew a young former baseball player named Billy Sunday, who was looking for a job, and Chapman hired him. Billy asked in he could preach every now and then. Billy Sunday ultimately emerged as the greatest preacher of the early 1900’s.
One day Billy Sunday was preaching in Charlotte, North Carolina, where a great move of God was taking place. Many people believed. These new believer then invited a relatively unknown preacher, Mordecai Ham, to set up his tent in Charlotte and keep preaching. It was at this time that a tall, lanky farm boy walked down the aisle and gave his life to Jesus. (1)
That farm boy had only turned up to hear Mordecai Ham because a friend of his, no one special, a farm hand called Albert McMakin, invited him to come. Albert invited several friends, and at first while others said yes, this particular farm boy said no. Until Albert said he could drive the truck going there. (2)
And so Billy Graham heard Mordecai Ham’s sermon and ended up walking down the aisle to give his life to Jesus.
Now there are famous people in this story - DL Moody, FB Meyer, Billy Sunday, Mordecai Ham.
You can find articles on Wikipedia about them. They led thousands of people to Jesus. Billy Graham led millions of people to Jesus.
But this story isn’t just about people like them, it’s about people like you. The Mary Magdalene’s of this world. The ordinary people of this world.
Edward Kimble wasn’t anyone special. Albert McMakin wasn’t anyone special. Yet I know that there are some people sitting in this congregation today who are only Christians because of a chain of events which they began.