This past Sunday morning through Wednesday night our church hosted Dennis Nunn and Every Believer a Witness. Hands down, in twenty-five years of ministry, this past week did more to encourage our church family to be faithful in witnessing to others than anything I have ever before experienced. From 1500 people on Sunday morning, to the several hundred people who came back for each evening 6:30 session, there has developed within our church family this past week a culture of excitement about sharing Jesus. Dennis was funny and engaging, our people were captivated, and by Wednesday night they had learned how to naturally and easily share Christ with others - by simply relating their own story of being touched by Christ Himself. The blind man in the gospels declared, "This one thing I know, I once was blind but now I see." The believers that make up our church family are acting like that blind man.
Rather than give details of what we learned through Every Believer a Witness, allow me to tell you of three spiritually blind people who came to see their need of Christ and publicly shared with our church this past week their own stories.
The San Diego Police Officer
On Sunday night after we learned how to tell others our personal story of our life before Christ, how we came to meet Christ, and our life after Christ, Dennis asked for someone who had never spoken publicly in a church setting to share his or her story.
A fifty year old woman about midway back stood and told us her story. It is impossible for me to write down all she said and to do justice to what we heard that night. We all sat transfixed as this woman named Cheryl, who had just recently begun attending Emmanuel Baptist Church, explained to us how she had met Christ in February of this year. For years she had worked as a San Diego "cop" and had grown hard, cynical and bitter. She saw so much evil, so many wicked things, that she had closed her heart and mind to any concept of God. How could there be a God? - there was just too much evil in the world. Yet, after a medical retirement from the SDPD, she had moved to Oklahoma with her husband to work in the oil fields and God had pursued her. After hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ through the testimony of other believers she had come under conviction herself. She surrendered her life to Jesus Christ and her placed her faith in His death and resurrection. There were many tears as she shared the specifics of her story and how her life had changed since meeting Christ, and at one time she apologized for being so emotional. It was then that Dennis said something I'll never forget - "When God squeezes the heart, the juice comes out the eyes." God was squeezing a ton of hearts that night.
The Wealthy Businessman
On Tuesday night a man who owns his own business that employs three hundred people, and who himself had attended Sunday morning's service, stood and told us his story. He shared how he had allowed money to become his god, how he had been unfaithful to his wife, was going through a divorce, but his own 14 year old son had been talking to his father about repenting of his lifestyle and trusting Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. Through many tears, the businessman father shared with our church that just a few hours earlier he had given his life to Jesus Christ. He asked his 14 year old son to stand and publicly thanked him for being a faithful witness of what Christ could do for his father. The businessman will be baptized at our baptismal service at Ski Lake next month.
The Single Young Lady
On the very back row of one of our evening services, a young lady stood and described how she had longed for somebody to love her, and absent the kind of love that satisfies the soul, she had turned to alcohol and sexual promiscuity. Through the faithful testimony of a believer, the young lady had come to discover that her needs could only be met through a personal faith relationship with Jesus Christ. She described how she had placed her faith in His death and resurrection and how her life had changed since believing in Christ. Again, I cannot give her story justice in this blog, but what I want you to understand is that people like this stood before hundreds of people during worship services and shared their faith in Christ because they had been taught how to share their stories - "This one thing I know, I once was blind but now I see."
Throughout the week we learned practical ways of sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ with servers at restaurants, neighbors on the block, co-workers, friends and complete strangers. During the evening services we had testimonies of how God was moving through witnessing to others. Every Believer a Witness is not a new program. It's not a new "method." It is simply getting God's people excited about bragging on Jesus.
And it works.
Two things I wish to encourage those who read this blog to consider:
(1). First, if you are in a position to invite Dennis Nunn to come to your church to lead out in Every Believer a Witness - do it. Contact him at 1.866.888.8589. Your church will never be as excited about witnessing as they will be by the end of the week - and it's not something they have to do - it is something they are EXCITED and WANT to do. Dennis is a staff evangelist for FBC, Woodstock, the church that is pastored by the President of the Southern Baptist Convention President - Johnny Hunt. He will help your church whether it is big or small, metro or rural, traditional or contemporary. Sharing Jesus transcends all those things.
(2). Second, a few have remarked on other blogs that I am moving "leftward" theologically - at least in one case it was because they learned I am the Friday night keynote speaker at the New Baptist Covenant Conference in Norman, Oklahoma on Friday, August 7th, following Jimmy Carter's keynote address on Thursday night. Rather than defend myself against the "leftward leaning" accusations, just let me simply say that after I have spent one week observing the Spirit of God producing some incredible conversions to faith in Jesus Christ through the faithful sharing of the gospel by my church members at Emmanuel - I no longer care that others may accuse me of leaning "leftward."
I know my heart, and if the excitement I feel in seeing so many conversions to Christ- and knowing that we will be baptizing between 50 and 100 people at our baptismal service on August 9th - if that is what it means for my heart to "lean leftward," then give me more leftward leanings! :)
In His Grace,