How have you seen the Holy Spirit move while doing evangelism?

Shawn,

One question I have for you: can you share how you have seen the Holy Spirit at work in your life and the life of the team in evangelism? Practically, what does it look like to do evangelism in the power of the Holy Spirit?

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Thanks for the question, Carson. This is a very important to think about because one thing we don’t want to be doing in evangelism is trying to function in our own power, thinking that it is our wit and intellect that will bring people to repentance. One thing I love about our team is the diverse experiences they have with the Holy Spirit in evangelism.

I think prayer is the foundation to evangelism because it puts us in the correct posture. We must rely on God to do the work in our hearts and the hearts of others in evangelism. We need to asking for a manifestation of the fruits of the Spirit in us as we attempt to be witnesses for Christ. I could go through the list in Galatians 5:22-23 and write a paragraph on how each fruit is needed in evangelism, but I would actually encourage every Christian to do this work themselves by meditating on these two verses and asking God how each fruit needs to be seen in their evangelism. If several people took one fruit each and replied to this thread with a paragraph, I think we could have a pretty great resource.

When it comes to the Holy Spirit practically working in my evangelistic efforts, I will list three things in the order of how common they are for me. Here they are from most common to least common.

A Thought : Often times I will get a thought about going somewhere or saying something to someone and I have the choice to act on this or not. I wish I always acted on these thoughts because if I did then I think I would grow better in my ability to discern whether it is my own brilliant idea (sarcasm) or if it is God prompting me. Our team often notices this during university missions where we are extremely focused on evangelistic conversations and are often trying to discern who to talk to and spend time with. What if that idea to invite your next-door neighbor over for dinner wasn’t just an inconvenient blip in your thoughts, but rather it was a prompting by the Holy Spirit? Don’t you want to know?

An Inescapable “Coincidence” : Two days before I left Oxford, I sat on a packed bus, next to a young Muslim woman who had just started reading the Bible and the Qur’an. The next day she showed up at my apartment to have tea with me and my wife 24 hours before the plane would take us back to America, and she told us her story. She woke up with the words “God is my shepherd” coming out of her mouth and she didn’t know why. There is much more to this story, but the story she told is one of God shepherding her all the way to a bus where I would sit next to her and then she would be in our living room the next day. I was able to point out to her just how much God was shepherding her throughout her life.

Sometimes we need to call out the obvious circumstances for people. It is common to have a university student say, “Man, I have been thinking about this stuff a lot lately, and then you guys show up talking about this stuff…woah!!” The most helpful response will likely be, “You have to ask yourself, ‘is this all just a coincidence?’ or do you think that God might be trying to communicate with you?” I find that often times people can be really close to making these connections, but they actually need a helpful nudge to make the connection. I think the helpful nudge is best formulated as a question that they have to answer rather than a statement (or worse, a sermon) from the Christian. If we can ask a good question, it also shows we have been listening well.

An Image : I have friends who get this much more than I do, but sometimes I will get an image enter my mind about the person. When I worked as a missionary in Africa I had a friend who rejected religion because he was young and wanted to live his life, but he said when he gets older he would either choose to be a Muslim, the religion of his mother, or a Jehovah’s Witness, the religion of his father. When he said this an image shot into my mind of him standing before two sets of chains. So I told him about the image that came to mind and then asked him, “do you feel like when it comes time to make that decision that you will be choosing between two sets of shackles?” He was blown away at how accurate this described how he felt. I was then able to tell him about true freedom in Christ.

I do think we want to be very cautious about how we interpret and share these kinds of visions/images though. I think a helpful phrase is, “I just had this picture come to mind, does this mean anything to you?” We have to remember that we are not walking in the Spirit like Jesus was so I don’t think any of us should be saying the equivalent of “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.” (John 4:17-18) Even if you think God told you something, there is no need to say, “God told me”. When people do this, I think it is more out of pride where they want to be seen as communicating with God or it is out of control, where they want to baptize their will, thoughts, or preferences.

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