Taking the gospel into questionable places
See o'er the world, wide
open doors inviting:
Soldiers of Christ, arise and enter in!
Christians, awake! Your
forces all uniting,
Send forth the Gospel,
break the chains of sin
- Go Ye Into All the World, James McGranahan
There are Christians who are horrified at the thought of going to places they deem not fit to be seen in for the sole purpose of witnessing to those who need it the most.
It is the norm for altar calls to be made at the end of church service or a crusade and while a few unsaved will be in the audience to respond to the call, the reality is that the majority are far from the message of redemption.
Christians are now being called on to meet unsaved on their common ground - be it in the bars, brothel, or on the corner of some unwelcome hang-out. This is where some believers draw the line as they hope for the chance to meet them at a place where they feel more comfortable to reach out.
Weighing in on the issue Pastor Mark Bryan of the Rosewell Church of God of Prophecy told Family & Religion that Christians are now called to be radical when it comes to spreading the gospel.
Referring to Luke 14:23, Bryan said in the parable told by Jesus, He commanded that the servants should go out into the 'highways and the hedges' so his house could be full. He said that in today's modern world "byways and hedges" could very well be the bars and some of the places that Christians are shunning.
Stressing the importance of evangelising outside of the church, he said too many Christians are caught up in their comfort zones.
"If ever there is a time when Jamaica needs radical Christians, it is now," he said, admitting that with the upsurge in crime some are timid about going to troubled communities to witness.
Citing evangelism in bars, Bryan said some of the rum drinkers pour out their troubles to the barmaids or to whomever they meet there looking for answers to whatever is driving them to drink.
He said it would be the perfect opportunity for Christians to meet them at the point of their needs.
Responding to how others would perceive a Christian seated in the bar, seemingly having a good time, Bryan referred to Jesus and how He never cared much about what others thought of His behaviour.
"They criticised him for hanging out with sinners, He spoke with a woman who had multiple sex partners (including) a married man ... those are the actions of someone who is on a mission to save souls," said Bryan, adding that today's Christians would do well to remember that as they put prejudice aside and try to make a difference in the lives of the rejected and dejected.
Bryan said that too many believers are caught up with 'image' instead of winning souls for the Kingdom. He cites this as one of the reasons a lot of at-risk youth are still roaming the streets instead of welcoming the gospel with open arms.
"The sad reality is that a lot of us have become judgemental, criticising rather than reaching out," he said.
Sharing a story, he said that he heard of a pastor who commissioned a prostitute for the night. He paid and waited in the hotel room for her to come to him. When she did, she was in for a surprise as she discovered he was not interested in her body, but her soul. By the time he finished telling her how beautiful she was, and that God wanted to use her ... he was the last client for her as she gave her life to the Lord that night.
"I admire this preacher, but how many would be willing to go that extreme to win a soul - not one who is concerned about what others might think if they saw him checking into a shady hotel," said Bryan.
In conclusion, Bryan is making the appeal for Christians to get beyond the four walls of the Church and "go wherever the needs are - be the rum bar, the street corner or at a little hut," he said, adding that if we are to be true followers of Christ then anywhere a lost soul is, is where a Christian should be reaching out.