STOP!! If you haven’t read Part 1. Don’t go any farther. You’ll bungle things up really badly.
You’re dead in the water if you skip it so read part 1 first
What I’m going to share with you I owe entirely to a veteran missionary named Phil for showing me. Phil and his young family left their Australian sheep farm to serve God among a nomadic tribe in Saharan West Africa. As an missionary kid myself, I was good friends with his children. I was always excited to take rides in their heavily modified Toyota Land Cruiser they used for serious overland desert trips. He and his family would ply the sand dunes and scrub land of the Sahara Desert as they ministered among the nomadic camps. You can’t get much more frontier than what they were doing.
A few years ago, Phil and his lovely wife Carol, paid us a visit on their way back to Africa from Australia. At the time I was just beginning community outreach here in our town. He offered this biblical advice that revolutionized how I engaged my community for Christ. So here it is:
Jesus wasn’t into complicated. Neither am I. Here’s what Jesus did. This is what he taught his disciples to do. This is what he expects you and I to do.
“ Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road.
“When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
“When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” Luke 10:3-9
Notice something? Jesus says “Go!” In other words, stop wringing your hands and sweating about “how” your going to do this. Stop planning out some long, costly and complicated program to reach the lost. “Go!” That word almost seems like a mother bird shoving her fledgling young over the edge of their nest to test their wings for the first time. “Go! Trust me…Go!”
1. FIND YOUR PERSON OF PEACE Now here is the meat of the matter and if you leave this page I’d like you to remember this one question: “Where is your person of peace?” Person of wuhhhh? I said, your Person of Peace.
Jesus instructed his 70 fearful followers to go to the villages trusting God for his provision and looking for one person in each town; the Person of peace. That person would welcome them into their home. That person of peace would be the key of the gospel to that village.
I’ve been ministering in a trailer park for several years now. When I started, I put that simple principle into action. My person of peace was an 18 year old high school student. He came to Christ. We spent time together all the time praying and studying the Bible. He introduced me to his friends in the park, soon we had a little bible study thing going on with 3 of his friends. I got to know his mom and her boyfriend. I met some other people through his friends and soon I had a broader network in that community than my friend did. I knew the names of about half the people in the park.
2. BE INTENTIONAL. Make it your goal to know people… as many as you can. As I did that I slowly I built independent relationships with different folks. Do you know what? That 18 year old is not even living there anymore. He graduated high school and went of to Bible college. I’ve found another couple who are my people of peace..but I wouldn’t have even met them if it weren’t for this young man.
3. START SMALL. Ask God for one person and be faithful to share your faith and life with that person.
4. STAY FOCUSED Jesus reminded the disciples to stay focused. He didn’t want them running around from house to house…he said “Stay there…do not move around from house to house.” So don’t be flighty. Stick to those God has given you. Even if its only one. Value those God has given you. Pray for them. Make no secret of your faith and concern for them right from the start. Don’t “bait and switch” or any of that garbage. In so doing you will earn a true and trusted friend. They will vouch for you in their community. They will open far more doors then you could ever do if you just “parachuted in” like Jehovah’s Witnesses like to do.
5. INVEST YOURSELF For a while there things took off and I was really busy ministering to many folks in the community. I made sure, though, to keep my young friend the primary focus. Several months later many of the the wider circle of people I met either disappeared into the woodwork or moved on. I was back to only one guy: my person of peace. INVEST YOURSELF in that person don’t get distracted.
6. HEAL THE SICK Finally, “Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’” You know, I’m not aware of any miraculous healings in my ministry yet, but I believe God does heal. I’ve prayed for lots of people who are sick. I’ve prayed for broken people. People in crisis. In fact I would say, praying for the sick alone has opened about the most doors into the lives of people I rub shoulders with. If you meet anyone who is hurting tell them that you’ll pray for them. Right then and their they will feel blessed that someone took interest in their struggle and would actually pray for them. They will be blessed! Then, if you have freedom, step it up a notch. Say something like “in fact, would you mind if I prayed right now for you? I want to encourage you.” 9/10 they will answer “yes”. Listen, most people are initially very suspicious and I don’t blame them. They think you want something from them, but when they find instead that you want to give and bless them..the walls come crashing down. I’ve seen grown men cry when prayed for. That’s when you’ve earned their ear. That’s when you tell them that “the Kingdom of God is near to you”
So to simplify it all:
1. Find your Person of Peace
3. Start Small
4. Stay Focused
5. Invest Yourself
6. Heal the sick
Tip– After you’ve met someone new in your community- record their name and something about them on your smartphone “notepad.” (not while you’re with them!) Record something that stood out to you about them, who they’re related to, or a common interest. I have compiled quite a list. Whenever I’m visiting folks in my communities I’ll inevitably see someone that I know I should know. Panic starts to set in..cause I’m supposed to know there name. You know what I’m saying right? Bam! Pop out that phone. Scroll through your list, your memory will be refreshed and you’ll even remember something unique about them to bring up in a conversation. As time goes on jot down their prayer requests or concerns so you can follow up with folks. Worked great for for me I’m terrible with names and details.