Evangelism is far more about trusting God’s promises and assurances than it is about ourselves. Believers trust that God’s Word works, even though we may not see the visible results of our efforts. Immediately following the Praise and Proclaim outreach initiative at Redeemer Lutheran Church (Yakima, WA), Rev. Isaac Cherney posed the following question during his sermon on Sunday morning,
“Is the Holy Spirit in charge of the results or not?”
Mission-minded congregations embrace the joy and privilege of being God’s messengers. They are far more concerned about bringing as many people as possible to heaven through the power of God’s Word than finding new members for their church. God is in control of the results. His children are in control of getting the Word out and unleashing its power.
It is God’s wisdom that he has chosen human messengers to be his representatives or ambassadors for the purpose of driving his message out. It is God’s responsibility to convert people by filling them with his Holy Spirit. It is only through the Spirit that lost souls hear, see, and believe his Truth and are set free.
A core group of faithful members from Redeemer Lutheran Church in Yakima WA embraced this truth, received evangelism training, and went out into their community to unleash the power of God’s Word.
Yakima is in the heart of central Washington on the east side of the Cascade mountains. The population has rapidly grown in the past twenty-five years. According to the 2010 census, 91,000 people live in the city proper and an estimated 250,000 people live in the metropolitan area.
The economy is driven by the agricultural industry. Abundant fruit trees dot the landscape. Apples, peaches, pears, cherries, and melons are the main fruit crop. However, the Yakima valley is well known for being the primary producer of hops in the nation – a key ingredient for making beer.
Redeemer Lutheran Church started in 1950 in downtown Yakima before they sold their church building and property to move out west of the city. The church built a beautiful sanctuary with bay windows behind the cross. During the service, people can gaze at the beautiful mountains and golden foothills that surround the city.
The westward growth of the city is reaching the church property. Though older homesteads still surround the immediate area, a scattering of new developments are arriving near the congregation. It is within these developments, that members of the congregation went out to engage, proclaim the gospel, and invite people to attend a Neighborhood Safety Night hosted by Redeemer Lutheran Church.
The Neighborhood Safety Night is the second congregation that has utilized this outreach event during a Praise and Proclaim initiative to help engage people and provide instant credibility for the congregation. (See West Allis) We are discovering that when people hear that a local police officer is coming to talk about personal and property safety along with recent crime trends in the community, they become interested and engaged. This enables participants to comfortably transition to providing a short message about what their church is all about. They comfortably and confidently share that their church teaches about God’s sacrificial love and every person can receive peace by trusting that their sins are fully forgiven right now because of what Christ has already done for us on the cross.
What a tremendous message of Good News to share with our communities!
And we shared this Truth one hundred and twenty-two times in Yakima on a Saturday morning and afternoon!
“Is the Holy Spirit in charge of the results or not?” (Rev. Isaac Cherney, Redeemer Lutheran Church, Yakima WA)
The Lord blessed us with many open doors. The people we met were friendly and receptive to our presence and our message. Since people were largely unfamiliar with the congregation – since they didn’t pass by the church on their way to work or to go shopping — they were introduced to a real face from a congregation right in their neighborhood.
May the Lord bless the ongoing gospel ministry at Redeemer Lutheran Church and the work of spreading the gospel in Yakima.