I love to read the different conversion stories in the Bible. They always move me to evangelize. Some of my favorites include the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman in John 4, the story of Peter meeting Cornelius in Acts 10, and the story of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16.
In each of these stories, the person evangelizing was faced with a choice. Jesus was tired and hungry when he sat down at the well. He could have just kept to himself when the woman showed up, but he saw an opportunity to share the gospel, and he couldn’t stay silent. As a result, the woman was converted. And she in turn brought many of her townsfolk to Jesus!
A faithful Jew, Peter believed that the Gentiles were unclean. Jews were not even allowed to enter a Gentile’s home. But at the prompting of the Spirit, Peter changed his thinking, journeyed to Cornelius’ house, and preached to a whole group of Gentile men and women.
Paul and Silas were perhaps in the worst of situations. Having been arrested and beaten for their witness to the gospel, they had every reason to feel sorry for themselves as they sat in prison. But they prayed and sang to the Lord instead. And when an earthquake struck and the prison doors swung open, they chose to stay rather than run away. And as a result of their witness, their jailer – the fellow who may well have overseen their beatings – was converted to Christ.
These dramatic stories – and all the other ones like them – how us how deeply Jesus wants us all to “go . . . and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19).
Meetings in Store for You. Just as the Holy Spirit knew that Peter would meet Cornelius and that Paul would encounter the jailer, the Spirit knows the people who will enter our lives this year. Not only that, the Spirit knows these people’s hearts and their needs. If we develop a plan to evangelize, and if we pray for guidance, not only will the Spirit open doors for us to share our faith, he will show us how to approach these people and help us with what to say.
God has a plan for our lives, and part of that plan includes our evangelizing certain people. Often these people are loved ones or friends. But unless we step out and try to speak to them, they may miss out on God’s blessings. What would have happened to the Samaritan woman if Jesus had avoided her? What about Cornelius and his family if Peter had stuck to the letter of the Law and refused to enter their house? What about the jailer and his family? Would they have come to Jesus without Paul and Silas?
People are out there. The fields are ripe. The workers are few. Jesus is asking us to fulfill the good plan that he has for us – and for those he is calling us to evangelize. I hope this issue helps to motivate you to set aside time in your busy schedule to spread the gospel. Your efforts will please Jesus, and they may even help someone come to the Lord. May God bless you as we begin this new year!