"As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry." (2 Timothy 4:5)
In a country where it is illegal to share the gospel, I was recently asked to conduct an “Evangelism Workshop.” To put this in context, a few months before I arrived, a 14-year-old girl from this community was killed for attending a Bible study.
What do you say to a group like this? How do you equip a group to evangelize when evangelism is illegal?
“Yeah, just use your Constitutional rights to tell people about Jesus!”
“Oh, you don’t have those rights? Bummer.”
“Make sure when you are praying for people on the streets, your eyes are open so that you are safe.”
“Give your friends this Rachael Lampa CD.”
Turns out a lot of our evangelism strategies don’t translate — specifically when it leads to death. Eventually, I shared the basics about praying to break veils that blind unbelievers, loving our neighbors, and sharing our testimonies. Then, a pastor friend and I encouraged these young people to form small groups and swap stories of success. We figured they could teach each other how to navigate these cultural tensions better than we could (since we had never been in this country before).
Listening to these young people discuss evangelism inspired me in me a great way. My perspective was broadened by the thoughts of these young Christians, particularly by two observations:
1. If you are legally permitted to share your faith, the people of this country consider you lucky
2. The people of this country will endure suffering because they believe in the gospel
It’s a massive blessing to freely communicate the gospel. They think we are so lucky because we don’t have to avoid the police and fanatical rioters every time we assemble or answer the questions of an unbeliever. They think we are lucky for only having to primarily deal with verbal ridicule or suffered popularity. Use your freedom to the Gospel’s advantage! Don’t cower at the first hint of resistance, fight to share the love you freely received!
People who are in love want the whole world to know it. If I am embarrassed to tell people who my wife is, I am probably not in love with her (love you, honey). The same applies for our romance with God. God’s romance is consuming to the point that everything in our life screams, “Love is here! Love exists!” The young people of this country literally cannot hide their love for God. It consumed them; they’ve counted the cost, and continue to share the gospel, despite the potential of death. Even when a nation's law says to not preach, the gospel moves forward.
Count the cost. Share your faith. We all may not have the constitutional right to share the gospel, but the laws of God’s Kingdom supersede all others. God's love has consumed us. Let everything we do scream God's love even when it's illegal.