Read how congregations are continuing to plant the seeds of the gospel in their communities.
Who Am I, LORD?
On a rainy Saturday morning, over forty members from Mount Olive Lutheran Church along with a few students from Bethany Lutheran Seminary arrived to go out and boldly put their training into action.
A few months prior to the outreach initiative, Mount Olive hired a lay person to serve the congregation as the evangelism coordinator. The prayer and intent behind this weekend was to provide him with a core group of members who were trained and equipped to assist him in the ongoing work of proclaiming the gospel and making follow-up visits.
The Lord answered our prayers in unexpected ways.
One of the members who arrived at church that morning was Connie.
After receiving training on Friday evening, Connie was eager and ready to serve her Savior by going out to proclaim the gospel. A lay member named Michelle – who also served as our on-site event manager — agreed to accompany her in the morning before going out to pick up sandwiches for lunch.
After two hours of going out door-to-door, the members came back to church to receive nourishment. Immediately following lunch, time was set aside to share with others about how the Lord blessed the morning. When it became Connie’s turn, she humbly told us that she was only able to knock on nine doors before coming back to church and rest.
We rejoice with every gospel seed planted and every house that was knocked on during the day. That was the case with Connie as well.
Most of the members went out again in the afternoon, I stood in the parking lot to offer words of encouragement. In my mind, I was already wimping out and conjuring up many excuses to sit out in the afternoon. Michelle approached me and said, “Dave, I was with Connie this morning. I think you should know the rest of her story.”
A year ago, Connie fell and broke her hip. At 75 years old, the process of recovery was long and difficult. For eleven months, Connie had to use a walker to come to church and get around town. It had only been a month ago that she was able to walk on her own. Filled with love for her Savior and the desire to go out and proclaim the gospel, Connie was bound and determined to finish her street designated on her map. It was obvious to Michelle that each house was becoming more difficult. Even though her heart was willing, her knees and hips were starting to give out. Climbing steps to the front door were becoming more and more difficult. It seemed that nine homes may be too much.
Michele told Connie that it was okay to stop, but she was having none of that. Connie approached the final two doors filled with determination. Upon arriving at the three to five steps that lead to front door, she got down on her hand and knees and began slowly crawling up so that she could stand up and knock on those final doors.
When I heard the rest of the story, I asked myself, “Who am I, Lord, to complain?”
“Who am I, Lord, to come up with dozens of excuses to not go and proclaim the gospel?”
I’m not sure if anybody saw Connie crawl up those steps, but God did. Along with the rest of God’s messengers who stepped out in faith to share their faith on Saturday, God must have been well pleased.
And for me, I dusted off those excuses and got into my car to find a group and finish going door- to-door proclaiming the gospel.
“Who am I? This or the Other?
Am I one person to-day and to-morrow another? Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptible woebegone weakling? Or is something within me still like a beaten army Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine. Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am thine!”[Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1944]
That evening, I approached Connie and asked her about crawling up those steps. Connie laughed in her humble way and said, “Boy, I hope nobody saw me.”
Greetings from Alaska!
I am humbled to be asked to write this article on how God has used evangelism to open new doors for me. After having served as a law enforcement officer the past 23 years, I have seen my share of broken lives and families – destroyed by sin. Recently my wife Jennie noticed a change in my attitude towards work. Law enforcement had become increasingly more dangerous with officers being killed weekly, it seems the public (and media) has less regard than ever before for law enforcement. School shootings are sensationalized and occur now more than ever. Substance abuse is an epidemic in most states. It was becoming more and more apparent change was badly needed, not just for my health and longevity, but for my family’s too.
That’s where my story starts. I am blessed to be the father of six children – three boys and three girls. When our prior church had a vacancy for the youth group leader position no one was stepping up. My oldest at the time was approaching the age to participate and I recall “struggling” with the decision. After all, I had never participated in youth group as my parents didn’t push or encourage it. Not wanting the program to die and youth in the congregation to miss out I thought “Who am I?” – certainly I have none of the skills or abilities to take on that role. I was given the role and recall how nervous I was at first, but thoroughly enjoyed it and took pride in helping build faith in several youth of the congregation.
Currently I serve as the evangelism chairman for Grace Lutheran in Kenai. Dave Malnes came to our congregation in August 2017 to train us on the Praise & Proclaim Ministry. Several of us went door to door, sharing information about our church and school and planting “Gospel seeds”. I admit at first it was more than a little scary, going up to a stranger’s door to share a message. But after a few houses, one gets into a “groove” and the fear subsides. It was an incredible boost of encouragement to have people thank you for your efforts, many of whom were from other denominations and commented how they wished their church did something similar.
Fast forward seven months and we had two more neighborhood evangelism efforts completed. The last was a beautiful March afternoon, I enjoyed walking door to door with my wife, basking in the sunshine sharing this important message with strangers.
It was during this time that I realized how much I enjoyed doing this. It seemed God was showing me this opportunity to “plant seeds” to make a difference in people’s lives. As an officer, I unfortunately saw how the loss of a loved one would sometimes devastate families. More than just grieving, it was as if they had no hope, no coping skills – their entire world was turned upside down.
I felt by going door to door I was giving people the opportunity to have hope, peace and eternity. On some of the canvassing efforts I took my kids with and told them if it caused one – just one person to believe – all our effort was worthwhile.
Checking into WELS ministry, I have begun distant learning by studying Greek. Immediately it seemed like my “yoke” became lighter and was a breath of fresh air, long overdue. It is with eager enthusiasm that I continue my studies so that I may someday have the opportunity to use the skills and abilities I have to serve the Lord and bring others to the saving faith. I am proof that God equips the called, he doesn’t call the equipped.
I pray my article may inspire others to “step-up” in faith, participate in Praise & Proclaim and see what new doors God opens in their lives.
Your brother in Christ,
Read their last newsletter –
Praise and Proclaim Ministries launched an outreach initiative in the spring of 2017.
Blessings from northern California!
God is so good and blessed our event with no rain and 30 Mighty Warriors that shared 413 invites, 56 Gospel seeds planted and 3 contacts! There are still a couple of maps out but wanted to share this with you! Thanks again for your ministry and program.
Oh, and there were 9 first time Mighty Warriors in this group that went out! That is very exciting to me!
Jim Oswald, Laymember