Why Don't We Witness?

In 1987, I attended an Urbana Missions Conference. My heart has always been into missions. I listened heard this talk from one of the speakers at the conference who later became a very good friend of mine, Dr Helen Roseveare who was a doctor in the Belgium Congo rebellion. I listened to the talk from that conference in '87 today and it is invaluable for all in Connect. It’s a half hour long and I guarantee you that you will really appreciate it. Please do and then give any feedback as to what she says or what you think.



Hi Tim!

I have been to an Urbana Missions Conference in the past and found the experience deeply encouraging. Thanks for sharing! It sounds like this is a very powerful talk. For those who may not be able to listen to the whole talk, but want to engage with this question, could you share with us some of the main points or quotes that stood out to you? What insights did you gain from Dr. Roseveare on the question “Why Don’t We Witness?” Did it bring up any questions for you? I look forward to hearing from you!


Dear Rachel,
I was glad to get some feedback from you as I posted the thread because the message is so rich. Please, I encourage anyone reading this to listen to it as it is a half hour long. She spoke it in '87 with her British twang. I admit, I love the accent but maybe I appreciated it so much because I knew Dr Helen.

We should have just concluded the Missions Conference that we’ve had at our lodge since '88 but cancelled it for the first time ever due to the virus. Dr Helen was to speak at it three different years. To this day, her teaching on suffering is the most profound that I’ve heard to the subject. She was beaten and raped during the Belgium Congo rebellion.

Rachel, I won’t deal with all of the things that I love about this teaching but what strikes me the most is her passion to speak of Jesus to the lost world - not just at missions conference, but in the grocery store as well. It also blessed me how the Holy Spirit was her forerunner and gave her the words to say as she needed them. Please, please, please listen to it! You will not be disappointed!


Hi Tim, I was at that Urbana conference too!, so many years ago now! I have listened twice to the message, and both times I have been so moved by memories, regrets, conviction, and longing to be more like Christ - to have the “I” removed. That was a powerful series of admonitions and stories that she told. I am convinced that her message of the African pastor’s correction is the key to our personal and Body-wide revival that needs to happen in this hour - 2020. Is it perhaps not a coincidence that we need 20/20 vision this year 2020, as so much is happening, so much opportunity for solitude, self-examination, seeking hard after God; I am praying that the Lord would errase the “I” so that I can really fix my eyes completely on Him, on what He is doing, and what He would have me do.

At this time I cannot get out to be a blessing in person to anyone - to share the gospel face to face (my husband just had major heart surgery and we are self-isolated here in Switzerland to keep his risk of contagion low), but the Lord is showing me ways to reach out, to encourage others, and is taking both of us deeper with Himself so that we will, I believe, be more ready to share Christ with others once we are able to venture forth.

Thank you SO much for sharing this amazing message - I’m going to go back and listen a third time, and encourage others to give it a listen!


Oh Lorraine, it blessed me so very much to get your post. I can’t believe that you were at that conference as well! Unbelievable! There was Billy Graham and Tony Compalo and George Vewer. In fact Lorraine, we have a missions conference at our lodge since '88 until this year it had to be cancelled. But Dr Helen spoke at it 3 times.I have a very profound message on suffering that she spoke of. Dr Helen and I grew very close. She died a few years ago. She was my ultimate hero and I miss her terribly! And George Verwer was here for 4 of our conferences. I have loved and grown in Jesus since that conference but I, too, am convicted and have regrets but desire to be all for Him every day that he gives us here.

When I was at the conference, I was “old” or so I thought at the time. I was 37 then and everyone else was about 20!

Lorraine, how can I pray for your husband? In fact, if you go to the thread “Prayer for March 21-28” here on Connect, you can post your prayer request and we’ll pray.

Also, please let me know if you want me to message you with Dr Helen’s other message that I have. I remember “seeing” you before and it is good to have you around again. I have a memorization thread as well as a prayer thread. It seems like I saw you possibly there before.

It may sound weird but thanks for being such a good caregiver to your husband. I am paralyzed from a firefighting accident 21 years ago and my wife has been the best caregiver in the world. We, as injured people, get the attention but the caregivers are really the ones who deserve the attention!


Hi Tim,

I have the talk queued up so I plan on listening to it today or tomorrow. Thank you for your contributions to our community that can help minister to us and offer ways to build each other up! What stands out to me from your messages is the legacy that Dr. Helen has left for us who continue on the journey of pilgrimage knowing Christ and making Him known. I am encouraged to know that in the same way the Holy Spirit was the forerunner for Dr. Helen to share the love of Jesus, He is there in the same way for each of us. I pray that our entire community can grow in passion and love for Jesus and grow in the empowerment of the Holy Spirit to share with those around us in our day to day lives. I look forward to listening to this message from Dr. Helen!


Rachel, I SO wish more would listen to her so as to be inspired by her message. She is so real and wonderful. I miss her so much. If you wish, I could send you one that she does on suffering that is phenomenal. She had such profound words on suffering. I believe I spoke to you briefly about it.

I wish more felt as you do as we all did a kick in the rear to keep us moving in Him. It’s my biggest burden - to have the lost know about our treasure.

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Thank so much for sharing this! I have often wondered how different the world would look if all Christians were able to “cross out the I” and be more active in our communities and the world. I suppose the lack comes from our different spiritual maturities, and in the West we are so comfortable in a way that maybe spiritual growth is slow to happen. Who knows, but Dr. Roseveare was certainly a very motivating speaker with a beautiful heart! :blush:


Lorraine, Rachel and Carrie, I sure wish more would have piped up on the subject. However, during prayer today, as I considered this, this thought came to me. Could you tell me what you think?

My heart burns for the lost. I pray and have to be honest in saying that I love talking to people about Jesus, even if they disagree. So where’s the rub? It hit me that, as yesterday I struggled as Nancy, my wife, and I were 180 degrees apart about a very essential spiritual issue that came about, I grappled with why I don’t know the Holy Spirit better. Our lives are about our relationship with Jesus so we are to know each other - Jesus and me.

As I was tossing that issue around today, I concluded that we don’t witness because of that relationship with Jesus. It could be because we are too busy, we aren’t sensitive to His leading, we are afraid to speak - whatever - but the bottom line is if the Holy Spirit leads to clearly do something, I feel I would do it. Why am I not hearing Him?

Dr Helen’s lady at the store would be handled by me by just being patient with her with “the patience of Jesus.” But He may not want me to be patient - He wants to use another tack to bring her to Himself.

Hence, why, when I am 69 years old and have known Jesus for 50 years!!! 50 years!!! Why don’t I hear His soft voice? Why? I don’t feel condemned as I ask this but I know it is not His fault so where do I miss it?

It circles back to my thread on what prayer is. I’m not suggesting we know everything or always have it right. No, we’ll blow it til we see Him face to face. But why, when I memorize His Word, and read the Bible through twice/year and pray - how can I be so deaf? Can someone help me? When I hear Him better, I will be a witness and more effective. I hear Him and are convicted of sin or see maybe what is meant by the heart etc, but why don’t I hear Hiis still small voice? What’s the matter with me?


Tim, I agree with you that our witnessing corresponds to listening to the leading of the Spirit. As far as God’s voice goes, I don’t know how to answer you except to tell you my experience which is that often thoughts pop into my head, often answering a question or a struggle I’ve had, and it always sounds like my own voice. The thoughts are always good and helpful so I feel like this must be the Spirit working in me. I can’t say I’ve never heard another voice other than that myself. Are you looking for a voice other than your own? I just found a sermon by Tim Keller about the “still small voice” and will listen to it this morning and let you know if it may answer your question. I just wanted to get back with you sooner so you know I’m thinking about your question.

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Carrie, are always so thoughtful x 2. What I mean by that is your are thoughtful and you are full of thoughts.

If I’m implying that I don’t hear from the Holy Spirit, I apologize because He is faithful. When I was first injured, for 11 years I went through the dark night of the soul. The Word was just words, prayer was rote and I felt like I was hanging onto Jesus simply because I knew He is the Truth. During that time, I had two instances where it was as you mentioned, I thought it was own inner voice speaking but I later realized that it was the Holy Spirit. That still happens.

Memorizing chapters if God’s Word has been powerfully used by the Holy Spirit as well. But I want to do is become more sensitive to His leading. I want to love Jesus by being faithful to being about what He calls me to. Just as I want to grow in prayer, I want to grow in hearing the Holy Spirit and that is where the bottom line is that we are even more relational.

I hope that I’m being clear in my communication. I always respect what you have to say Carrie so thanks!


Hi Tim,

Sure, if you want to send me Dr. Helen’s message on suffering I would be glad to listen. I am glad she has been able to be such an encouragement to you in your walk with Jesus.

Thank you for your genuine questions within this conversation! I can tell you have a deep love and desire to live for Him and to share the gospel with those He brings into your path. As I was reading your post, I was reminded of Psalm 34:17 “The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are attentive to their cry.” I believe we can find hope in the fact that God hears our prayers and responds to our desire to grow in love for Him and others. He is eager to answer those prayers. Through the Holy Spirit God is continuously transforming us into the likeness of Christ (2 Cor 3:18).

I found this statement of yours to be an important insight in the midst of this conversation.

Yes! We serve a relational God, who leads us into greater knowledge of Himself alongside of self- awareness to learn to be more like Him. This quote came to mind. "The knowledge of God and that of ourselves are connected. Without knowledge of self there is no knowledge of God. Without knowledge of God there is no knowledge of self.” John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion.

You mentioned that you have been a believer for 50 years. What an incredible testimony. I am sure we will all continue to grow from the wisdom that has come from your journey.

I see that you have a desire to hear from God to grow in sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit. I do believe as we grow in our knowledge of Scripture (2 Timothy 3:16-17), exercise of spiritual disciplines, and encouragement of other believers (Hebrews 10:23-25) we can grow in our relationship with Jesus and being attentive to His leading.

May I also suggest the book from Dallas Willard? Hearing God
I have found it helpful in my own studies. Here is a quote that may bring some encouragement to you. “Specifically, in our attempts to understand how God speaks to us and guides us we must, above all, hold on to the fact that learning how to hear God is to be sought only as a part of a certain kind of life, a life of loving fellowship with the King and his other subjects within the kingdom of the heavens.” - Dallas Willard

You are not alone in this community with wanting to grow in hearing the voice of God! I’ve attached a thread below that may be helpful to you.

Lastly, I wanted to follow up on your desire to share the gospel with others more. Your desire to grow in your ability to share the gospel with others reflects God’s heart of love towards humanity. I believe the more we are filled with the love of God, a love for others comes out of the abundance of that love. OCCA Fellow Lara Buchanan shared 10 activities she engages in to grow as an evangelist. I value her insight here!

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Rachel, it is truly inspiring to see your passion for Jesus. I have read and so appreciated Dallas Willard’s book. I have read and heard so much of his teaching. His humility is what really came through his teaching.

I have saved the link that you gave me from Lara and will read that after this post. Thank you ever so much for it as I so love to learn.

It is amazing that I’ve loved Jesus for 50 years and my love for Him is not deeper. But I press on towards the goal of the upward calling of God in Christ Jesus!

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Hi Tim,

So glad to hear that Dallas Willard has been an encouragement to you. I really enjoy his writing as well. I hope that post from Lara is helpful to you! Yes, we are with you in the journey of knowing God and making Him known!

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Thank you for the post from Lara. It contained so many helpful reminders.

But while we are on the subjecting of witnessing, especially when we are called to be His ambassadors, why isn’t there much interest in it even as seen by the replies to a response to the great commission? I’m not into this for a great thread but a pertinent one that I was expecting more advice and encouragement. So my intention was not just to have a conversation but to deal with something that applies to every one of us in Connect. I think this really says a lot to us:

2 Cor 5:17-21 “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. So we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Hi Tim,

That is a beautiful Scripture indeed - speaks to the grace and magnitude of the gospel and faith in Jesus!

Are there certain areas within the conversation about witnessing, or even addressing why we may not witness, in which you were hoping for additional advice or encouragement? You can also find some meaningful and encouraging conversations about witnessing in our #daily-evangelism category :slight_smile:

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No, Rachel, I just don’t think we are very good ambassadors. In Hebrews 12, another verse that I think of is, when it says, “Let no one fail to obtain the grace of God.” My heart wants everyone to at least know about this treasure, I know that is what the Lord’s will is. But I haven’t done the best job and that is not saying that under the banner of humility but reality. Not one of my 6 siblings know Jesus. Jesus has been so special - my all. I want the world to know. I don’t feel like I’m at a loss for how to because, between graciously explaining, being exemplary of Jesus or prayer, the tools are there.

How I desire, more than techniques as the Word is full of ideas from our speaking as seasoned with salt to abiding in Him so we walk as He does. Everyday that goes by I grieve for those who don’t know Him for, even if they meet Him on their death beds, they will have wasted a full life of living with Jesus and fulfilling the reason for which they were created.

Thus, I want to be all out for Him - full bore. But I need the body to be a joint that I don’t have and to be there for you as well.

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Hi Tim,

First let me just say that I see your passion for others to know Jesus! I can hear God’s heart for humanity as you discuss your desire for others to know Him and live out the full and abundant purposes He has for each of us.

You mentioned two different thing sin this post - first your own engagement with those who don’t believe and secondly the wider Church’s role as witnesses and ambassadors.

I do believe it can be helpful to take an inventory per say of our own relationship with Jesus and our witness. However, I would hope that if we do not feel satisfied with how we are doing, that we could acknowledge and call to mind the grace that meets us in that place. We are first loved, fully, for who we are regardless of our performance or witness. I do not believe God wants us to walk in shame if we have not witnessed as much as we would have liked to upon reflection. From a grace- filled perspective, how can we learn, and choose to move towards our goals and the passion of our hearts to witness, day by day?

I know it can be really difficult when we have friends and family in our lives that don’t know Jesus. It’s important to just recognize that is difficult! It can be an opportunity for fervent prayer and asking for wisdom and grace to share about Jesus as opportunities are given. We can believe that God hears our prayers and longs for those we love to know Him as well. As we continue in prayer and use the tools we have, we also can surrender the process to Jesus. I am grateful that we serve a God who doesn’t need us to draw humanity to himself, but he chooses to use us!

Secondly, I wonder how this passion could propel you to build up the body? What does being “all out for Him” look like to you? How could your desire for the body of Christ to grow as ambassadors lead you to let your life speak, as well as encourage and relate to others who may want to grow in a similar way?


Rachel, all out for Him is nothing grandiose - I just want every second of mine to love Him and live for Him.

Please see what Billie sent on this link: https://connect.rzim.org/t/prayer-for-april-11-18-2020/30622/3

I do seek the Lord in regard to a spiritual inventory. I don’t want to fall into introspection or self-loathing. I just want Him to say, “Well done good and faithful servant.” And as Jo Vitale said in her Take 5, I want to look Jesus in the eye and be able to say, “I love you Jesus.”

If my life doesn’t speak of Jesus, I’ve lost it because, though I don’t deserve Him, He did ask to abide in me and I in Him.

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