CONFRONTING EVIL IN EVANGELISM
There are misperceptions about evangelism that cause people to refrain from proclaiming the gospel. A fear for many Christians is people providing a poor response. This can happen, but most people will be polite when they are treated with love and respect. Confrontational evangelism will invite confrontation, especially in today’s world where there is a growing disrespect for the institution of the church.
There will be times personal evangelism will receive a curt reply or a snarky retort. Typically, it’s directing anger toward a God who seems absent during difficult life circumstances or problems of the world. Instead of taking it personally, we can be saddened that a person has rejected an opportunity to hear what Christ has done for us.
Sometimes Christians who step out in faith to share their faith with others are confronted by evil. It’s rare, scary, and intimidating to be in the presence of something other-worldly.
I have trained several thousand Christians and led them on meaningful door-to-door witnessing experiences. Some experience angry retorts, but they have always been safe.
Except for one instance when a man and his wife were confronted by evil.
In 2017, I led an outreach initiative in Little Rock, Arkansas. After leading members out into the neighborhoods to experience door-to-door witnessing, I received a phone call from Ryan and Michelle. She called to let me know that they just had a terrible experience and had returned to church. I quickly joined them, and they told me what happened.
They came upon a house and rang the doorbell. When nobody answered, they left behind information about their church that included a brief gospel message. Upon reaching the end of the driveway, they heard the door open, and a half-naked man appeared wearing only his underwear. He picked up the half-page flyer and began reading it. Within seconds, he started screaming and yelling at them. Using graphic profanity, he cursed Ryan and Michelle for bringing the message of Christ to his door. Ryan apologized, but the man wouldn’t stop yelling. They quickly started walking down the street and turned back in amazement. The man dressed in his underwear and holding a yellow umbrella was following them down the street still cursing and yelling at them with a crazed look in his eyes.
They walked hurriedly away to the next street. When they no longer saw him, they decided to go to their car and return to church.
This experience was not their fault. They didn’t do anything wrong. They were confronted by evil.
When the groups returned to have lunch, we held a debriefing session. Ryan and Michelle shared their unsettling story with their fellow church members.
I shared with the group that Christ’s disciples will be confronted by evil. In the Bible, driving out evil spirits was part of Jesus’ gospel ministry. Active evangelists are placed on the front lines of a spiritual battle, and they will witness the horrors of spiritual warfare.
The pastor of this small church listened and began searching his Bible. When I was done, he provided a different perspective that brought comfort and peace.
He told his members that the apostle Peter and Jesus’ disciples were once beaten and thrown into prison by religious leaders who thought they were serving God. How did they respond? He began reading Acts 5:41-42. “Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.”
When he stopped reading, he looked at this young couple with a heart full of compassion and love, and said, “Ryan and Michelle, this was a terrible experience that God allowed to happen. This was no accident. God was there with you the whole time. But take heart in knowing that you have been ‘counted worthy’ to suffer for Christ. And our response as believers in Christ is not to cease our gospel activity to tell others what Christ has already done for us.”
When our debriefing time came to an end, it was time to go out into the neighborhoods again. With a bit of trepidation, I asked for a show of hands to see who would like to continue to participate.
I looked up and saw Ryan and Michelle with their hands raised.
I couldn’t help but hear a member say, “Wow!”
That’s a picture of faith. That’s an example of trusting God’s promises and assurances. That’s the power of the holy spirit working in hearts and minds to inspire ordinary people to do something extraordinary.
When Ryan and Michelle’s hands went up, everybody in that room raised their hand to participate as well.
Weeks later, I sent them an email and asked them to share their experience. Michelle wrote back:
“At that time, I was incredibly scared. In that moment I felt like we were face-to-face with the devil. I have never seen anyone look that way before. He literally looked as if he had no soul. I can still see his face and if I met him down the street, I’m sure I’d remember him. That is what an impact he had on me.
But at the same time, it was the Lord that kept us safe. If He’d not been with us, I feel like the man would have attacked us physically. It was also the Lord that helped give us the courage to go back out. I’m not gonna lie… that first house scared me to death! But everyone was friendly and kind. The Lord put the devil behind us and held us close as we finished what we had started.
The words our pastor said gave us courage. When we headed back to the church after the incident, I was set on going home. But y’all supported us and we knew with the Lord’s help and protection we’d be ok.”
Whenever a believer in Christ proclaims the gospel to a lost soul, the devil will not be happy. They are one of the few who have been given the boldness to do what God has asked us to do – proclaim and unleash the power of his Word. By doing so, we become a target.
And it’s not something to fear because Christ always wins. He is more than a conqueror. He promises always to be with us.
When God in his wisdom allows us to experience adversity proclaiming his name, it’s not because he is absent, it is because we have been counted worthy to suffer for his name.
It’s a great day to be God’s messengers!
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