Evangelism is far more about God and trusting in his promises rather than relying on our own abilities to proclaim the gospel. It means trusting that God’s Word works. Praise and Proclaim Ministries rejoiced in the opportunity to partner with the pastor and members at Light of Life Lutheran Church in Greenwood, IN to launch an outreach initiative and train members with a simple way to proclaim the gospel then watch them go do it! And did they ever.
The city of Greenwood, IN is a rapidly growing bedroom community of Indianapolis and is located approximately fifteen miles south from downtown. The current population estimate is 56,000 which is a ten percent increase in only the last six years. The new construction of housing and businesses are slowly taking over the farmland and corn fields as the community of Greenwood is slowly transitioning into a large city.
Light of Life Lutheran Church began in 2009 with the arrival of Rev. John Stelljes and his family. A new worship facility was built and dedicated in the fall of 2014 and is located only a short distance from the freeway. A new elementary and middle school is across the street. Many residents from the nearby communities pass by the church each day.
The Lord has blessed the ongoing gospel ministry at Light of Life Lutheran and they now have a growing membership of 127 baptized souls.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the permission to partner with members of the congregation to provide training on how to proclaim the gospel to members in their community.
After two and a half hours of training on Friday evening, a total of 27 people went out into the neighborhoods surrounding the church the following day to put their training into practice. We do this by providing a well-organized and meaningful opportunity to go door-to-door to try a simplified methodology on strangers. Through this experience, members conquer their fears of evangelism, learn to trust God’s promises, and discover the joy of using a simple approach to give a reason for the hope we have in Christ. At the end of the weekend, it is a joy to see a core group of members who are ready and equipped to continue to put their training into action and assist the pastor by sharing the gospel and make follow-up visits.
The Lord blessed our weekend. On a hot and humid summer day, the Lord opened doors and gave members opportunity to verbally proclaim the gospel.
Here are a few of their stories:
One two-person team knocked on a door and after about thirty seconds, started walking away. About halfway down the driveway, a lady opened the door and called out to them. She told them they were looking for a place to go because her kids were asking about going to a local church. She specifically inquired about Bible studies on marriage. What seemed like a missed opportunity turned into a golden one.
We were reminded again that the Lord often sends the right person to the right door at the right time. There were several examples of divine opportunities the Lord provided that include one lady on our team who shared the gospel in Spanish and another lady who told the team that her husband had just died. The lady member from Light of Life team quickly gave her a hug of encouragement and support which was greatly appreciated.
Children are awesome at going door-to-door. They are full of energy, enthusiasm, and love to serve their church in a meaningful way. One great advantage of having children is that they often know other families whose children are classmates or who belong to the same sports team. There were several instances when children provided a valuable connection at the door.
But there is also another huge advantage.
When an adult sees a young child in front of them who is confidently talking about her church and her love for our Savior – it is impactful. Miriam (Mimi), an adorable six-year-old daughter of Pastor Stelljes, was remarkable. Even though she colored and drew pictures with other children through the entire training process, she still practiced with her mommy and was ready to go on Saturday. She gently reminded her father/pastor when he forgot to include certain steps while at the door. And she was fantastic in providing invitations to attend a neighborhood campfire at her church and what Jesus has already done for her.
When adults from the community meet children at the door they can’t help but be impressed. Gospel seeds are planted in a powerful way.
Mimi was excited to hear that they plan to organize a play date with a fellow school mate whose family doesn’t know Jesus yet. She can’t wait to go with her father to play with another six-year-old girl while her daddy teaches their parents about Jesus.
We met a few families who came from India, Burma, and other countries in that region of the world. It is interesting to see how eager these families are to meet and get to know Anglo Americans. Due to their cultural heritage, the process of coming to faith in Christ can be a lengthy process. It is a wonderful journey for Christians to be a part of that process and worth the investment of time to engage, connect, and build a bridge of mutual trust to introduce Jesus through his Word.
At the end of the day, we rejoiced that the Lord provided opportunities to plant the seeds of the gospel 152 times through the day.
But that number changed the following day.
Vernon is an elderly member of the congregation who attended the training on Friday night. He loves evangelism and wanted to proclaim the gospel in a simple, comfortable way. He was disappointed that he was physically unable to join us to go door-to-door the following day. On Sunday morning, Vernon came up to me with a big smile on his face. While the rest of the members were going door-to-door, he went to a senior fitness club for his time of regular exercise. This time he was ready and equipped to proclaim the gospel. A person at the gym asked him what he did the previous night, and Vernon seized the opportunity to tell him that he learned one way to proclaim the gospel and spent the next fifteen minutes carefully explaining what he learned and what Jesus Christ has already done for him.
Thanks to Vernon, we proclaimed the gospel 153 times. After the Bible study hour on Sunday morning, Angela, a member from Light of Life, reminded us that in the gospel of John (21:6-11), Jesus told his disciples to cast the net on the right side of the boat. When they hauled the heavy net to shore, guess how many large fish they counted? 153! We found that number to be ironic and brought a smile to our face.
When Christians boldly carry out Christ’s commission to throw their nets into the water to proclaim the gospel, he provides the fish. When we concentrate on activities to go out with the intent to bring as many people as possible to heaven, we trust that the Lord provides for his church. Our business is to deliver the message and God takes care of the rest.
May the Lord bless the ongoing gospel ministry at Light of Life Lutheran Church in Greenwood, IN. It was a privilege and a joy to partner with them.