Learn about gospel outreach from a third-world evangelist who’s doing it.
by Abrahams Wanda Odongo
When the church was born at Pentecost, the disciples — often timid and fearful — were suddenly empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Peter, who would not accept public association with Messiah (Luke 22:55-61), immediately stood before a huge crowd, courageously witnessing to the same Christ he had denied thrice about fifty days before! When the disciples waited for the Holy Spirit, opened their hearts to be filled, and understood it was the Spirit of God that formed them, they were given clarity of mission and purpose.
Then the church’s growth chart steepened from addition to multiplication. Adding twelve to twelve doesn’t give the same result as multiplying twelve by twelve!
God has always used people to reach others. The angel appeared to Cornelius, but the angel never preached to him; Peter did (Acts 10). Ananias was sent to Saul so his eyes could be opened (9:17, 18). If the membership leaves the work of evangelism to only pastors and evangelists, then the church grows by addition. When everybody gets busy in the work of missions, it grows by multiplication, as it did in the book of Acts (6:7; 12:24).
To be effective in evangelism and outreach, the church must “do the math” in several areas.
Allow the Holy Spirit to do His work. The Spirit is not just another good feeling of godliness. It is power, and power breaks all natural obstacles and removes all barriers. The Holy Spirit will convict people of sin (Acts 2:37), righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-10). We may have good, true, and well-researched doctrines, but only the Holy Spirit will help them make sense to non-believers. We may have the best theological trainings and eloquence in oral presentation, but without the Holy Spirit’s anointing, all these can’t add up to anything.
Be aggressive in evangelism. Today there are many tools for evangelism, like mass media, print media, and social media. Let the church lay strategic plans for evangelism, and let the church resolve which evangelism tool is best suited for each place. Among the reading community in first-world countries, print and electronic media can be effective. But among third-world countries where reading isn’t common, outdoor crusades, mass media, radio, and television programs should be conducted. The investment is worth it.
Make Christ and Calvary our core message. Let us preach the good news of the kingdom and not the good news of our denomination. Public contests and arguments as to right teachings must be avoided during the evangelism stage. That doesn’t mean we compromise sound doctrine. There is much we are yet to tell people about Christ; we can’t afford to lose more time talking about ourselves! Effective evangelism calls for passion, pure love extended to the lost, grace, and understanding as we patiently wait for new believers to mature.
The gospel should be simplified so unbelievers can understand how God created man and how humanity sinned against God’s initial plan and fell under His fair judgment. But God made an escape route for those who believe through His only begotten son Jesus Christ, who was born, lived, died, arose, and ascended to the right hand of God. He is receiving a kingdom and will return to judge the world, reward those who believe in Him, and punish those who refuse Him.
Big theological terminologies can’t work at this stage. We should not preach doom and condemnation on those who have not believed. We have to be patient and gracious.
Be a discipleship church. Let us teach those who have believed the sound doctrine. Using a common growth and discipleship manual or curricula, let us train and equip new believers for evangelistic ministry so that the church will grow by multiplication.
Grasp opportunities such as ministries in prisons, to children, to those on the street and in homes, in hospitals, and counseling to friends of the terminally ill. When a man’s heart senses trouble, he sees the greatest need for a caring, loving, and compassionate Savior: Christ Jesus. Compassion evangelism is the most effective and biblical way to reach out to others for Christ.
For the church to grow by multiplication, we must appreciate the fact that evangelism is the core business of the church now as ever. If we don’t tune our vision to evangelism, then we are not only a dying church but also an irrelevant church, for “This gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). We have no other option for growth except to obey the command of our Lord to “go”!