A young lady sitting next to me at a lunch counter abruptly turned to me and very earnestly said, “Pardon me, sir. What do you think about Jesus Christ?” She was plain-looking—nothing remarkable about her appearance—yet somehow I knew I had just been asked the most important question of my life! I don’t recall my answer; I’m sure it was nothing very encouraging, but I will never forget those ten words. After finishing her lunch, she disappeared into the crowd, and I never saw her again. She walked away, probably thinking she had failed. I hope not, because the Lord used the witness of an ordinary person to plant a powerful seed in the mind of a 28-year-old agnostic whose life had become as useless as a rotten pumpkin on the day after Halloween. She planted. Others watered. God gave the increase. A few months later, I asked God to take control of my life. Hallelujah!
Ever since that day in 1952, I’ve had a strong passion to share my faith with everyone I meet and to motivate other Christians to be witnesses for the Lord. I have been trying to understand why, according to Barna Research studies (www.barna.org), less than 5 percent of Christians ever share their faith in our wonderful Savior. I believe this statistic holds true in all churches.
My walk with the Lord has included membership in 12 churches altogether, including Methodist, Baptist, Bible, and other denominations, until I finally arrived at a Seventh-day Adventist church about three years ago. In all 12 churches, there are precious, born-again Christians who love the Lord, study His Word, and try to live in a way that is pleasing to God. Yet in all these churches, something is missing.
Although the Adventists do a great job of sending missionaries to foreign countries, I am sorry to say that when it comes to personal witnessing in their own communities, Adventists are probably no better than any other denomination. What is missing in all churches today?
I did not know the answer until I became an elder in my church in July 2010 and was given an opportunity to preach at the 11 a.m. worship service. As a member of the Gideons (and to promote my book, Adventures of a Witness for Jesus), I had often spoken in churches. But to preach at the 11 a.m. service— wow, that was big-time for me! I cried out to the Lord to give me the message that He wanted me to preach. Here is what He showed me:
People who attend church regularly have heard many motivational messages about being witnesses for Jesus. They know about the “Great Commission.” They know that the first thing Jesus said to His disciples was “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men” (Matt. 4:19). They have probably heard a few messages from 2 Corinthians 5:20 about being an ambassador for Christ. And perhaps some have been inspired by the message of Daniel 12:2, 3: “to lead many to righteousness . . . and shine like the stars forever and ever.” Yet only a small percentage (3 to 5 percent) ever share their faith. What a tragedy! How can that be? Don’t born-again Christians have the fruits of the Spirit—love, joy, peace, etc.? Yet something is missing!
Now with the help of the Internet, television, public schools, apostate churches, the entertainment industry, drug dealers, and pornographers, the great deceiver and father of lies is on a rampage. How he enjoys leading millions of precious souls down that wide road that leads to destruction—especially our teenagers, whose three main causes of death are automobile accidents, homicide, and suicide. Why can’t we stop this diabolical killer or at least slow him down? We can!
"And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Matthew 24:14
The Bible has the answer. First, we need to expose the devil’s strategy. He knows the prophecy in Matthew 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” The “end” is good news for us, but, as Satan is well-aware, the end of this world is only the beginning of eternal torment for him. Therefore, he tries to postpone his fate. How? He will do everything in his power to stop us from spreading the gospel! Satan’s best weapon is to contaminate us with the sin he is famous for: pride, the sin that is most difficult to recognize in ourselves. But, you say, what has pride got to do with our failure to testify for Jesus? It’s a subtle thing, but if we had no pride, would we fear rejection? Would we fear being mocked? Would we fear being hated and scorned for God’s sake? Would we fear anything? No! Does that sound too extreme? Consider what Paul said in Galatians 2:20: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me.”
Think what could happen if 95 percent of the Christians who seldom speak the name of Jesus in the presence of unbelievers suddenly began to believe His words in John 14:12: “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do, because I go unto my Father.” Wait a minute! What is Jesus saying? Greater works than He did? Greater than healing 10 lepers just by speaking a few words? Greater than calling Lazarus to come out of the grave? Greater than turning 120 gallons of water into wine? Yes!
So what is the greater work? How about the first thing Jesus said to His disciples: “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” And remember what He said right before He returned to heaven: “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit is come and you shall be witnesses unto me” (Acts 1:8).
So what is missing?
Scripture has the answer. Listen to Paul’s prayer in Ephesians 6:19, 20: “Pray for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (emphasis added). And consider Acts 4:31, “And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (emphasis added). And again in Acts 13:46, “Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God was spoken to you first . . .’” (emphasis added). And I love Proverbs 28:1: “The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion” (emphasis added).
According to Galatians 5:22, boldness is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. Holy boldness comes only with power from the Holy Spirit, and that comes only with prayer. Even the apostle Paul had to pray for boldness.
Witnessing is God’s idea; therefore, He will give you all the help you need to do it. First of all, we need to rebuke Satan in the name of Jesus. Then, realizing that the natural man cannot understand spiritual things, pray that God will prepare the hearts of those with whom we intend to share the incredible love of Jesus. And pray that God will allow us to be clean vessels to be used by the Holy Spirit.
G. Warren Sears is an elder at the Bell Branch Seventh-day Adventist Church in Gambrills, Maryland, USA.
Scripture references are taken from the King James Version.
The General Conference Ministerial Association team would like to express their appreciation and gratitude for Ricardo Bacchus’ outstanding work during the past three years as Production Assistant of Elder’s Digest magazine. He has been invited to work as Editorial Assistant for Collegiate Quarterly Bible-Study Guide. May God continue to bless his ministry in this new position.