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 Personal Evangelism


 2009-09-03 3:55:00  3218
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Personal Evangelism in a Military Hospital

                                  By Army MG(Ret) Elder Kim, Moo-Woong

                                                  Coordinator, MEO Program, MSO


 In Matthew 28:19,20, Jesus says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you". This Great Commission was given to every follower of Jesus, not pastors and missionaries alone. These words of Jesus are not the Great Suggestion but the Great Commission. This is our commission from Jesus, and it is not optional but mandatory.

 The mission of the Association of Military Christian Fellowship is to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to military men and women of every nation of the world. we were made for a mission. Fulfilling our mission is one of God's purposes for our lives. Therefore, leading unbelieving soldiers to Jesus Christ is a core activity of AMCF members.

 There are many different methods of leading someone to Christ. I am going to introduce the principles of evangelism and illustrate just several methods, based on my experience of hospital ministry in Armed Forces Capital Hospital.


The Definition of Evangelism

 In a narrow sense, evangelism is the announcing or communicating or proclaiming of the Christian message to those outside the Christian faith. In short, it is the action or work of preaching the Gospel.

 In a broad sense, evangelism is whatever the community of God does to make people new creatures in Christ Jesus. In short, it is a process to convert people to Christianity.

 In a concrete sense, evangelism is a process which includes:

 -Telling someone about the Christian hope of eternal life provided by Jesus' death on the cross.

 -A joint work between the evangelist and God. The evangelist may speak the words but the Holy Spirit convicts of the need to seek Christ.


The Outline of Evangelism

 The Great Commission, Mark 16:15 and Acts 1:8 are the necessary foundations for evangelism. In Acts 1:8, Jesus says, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In Matthew 28:19,20, Jesus says, "Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." In Mark 16:15, Jesus says, "Go into all world and preach the Good News to all creation." In the order of activity of these verses, 'having the Holy Spirit to receive power' is the first action and 'going into all the world' is the second and  'making disciples' is the third. 

 People sometimes wonder whether they do not have to wait for some special spiritual fitness - some sign that Jesus is ready to work through them. But we are living in the post-Pentecost era. Therefore, the power of the Holy Spirit is always promised when conditions are fulfilled. We know what those conditions are - earnest prayer, a sense of need, dedication to a work assigned to us by Jesus. Our willingness is the Holy Spirit's signal. We cannot say that we are waiting for God's good time; God's time for evangelism is always now.

 'Going into all the world' means selecting the target persons to evangelize and approaching them. These acts should occur on two levels. Firstly, men clearly called of God, with experience and proven skill, should be sent out to work as evangelists. Secondly, all Christians should be living Jesus' witnesses and should see their major evangelistic contribution as being constantly watchful and ready to enter into any natural opening and opportunity to speak of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians, individually and collectively, bear witness by their lives and words. They bring unbelievers within hearing range of the Scriptures.

 'Making disciples' means proclaiming the Gospel and sharing your personal testimony with unbelievers to make converts, but it requires far more than simply making converts. When people are converted, they confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus and believe in their hearts that God raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 10:9). But it is the first stage in a long and exacting process. They should go on to develop Christian discipleship. Discipleship requires that a Christian not only comes to personal commitment to the Lord Jesus, as demonstrated in baptism, but also that he goes on from there being regularly instructed in the things of God and taught the truth as it is in Jesus Christ.

 The place of baptism in evangelistic work needs careful attention. These days churches operate baptismal classes of a few months, saying, "New converts must wait until there are clear evidence of grace in their lives". But the Bible tells quite different stories. We can find a few illustrations of speedy baptism in the Bible. Philip had no such hesitation and gave baptism to the Ethiopian minister of state during their journey in a chariot when the minister asked him, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized" (Acts 8:36, 38). The apostle Paul gave baptism on the Philippian jailor and his family after their profession of faith. He and his family were converted after midnight and baptized before breakfast (Acts 16:29-33). We are under obligation to require penitents to be baptized - and the sooner, the better.

 'Teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you' means teaching as part of the Great Commission, not as part of evangelism. Christ's teachings are the Gospel and summed up in the Apostles' Creed which is the teaching of the correct interpretation of the Old Testament combined with the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ's laws alone are binding upon the hearts and lives of His people. The church has no right to insist on the observance of any other laws (Mark 7:6-13).


Selecting Target Persons (Focus Group) and Approaching Them

 Who should we go to in order to preach the Gospel and to make disciples?  People are most receptive to Jesus when they are under tension or in transition. Wherever there is change or conflict, we can be sure that Jesus will use it to bring people to Him. The Lord exhorts we to reach out to those with anxious hearts and to let them know Him. Therefore, we should look around in search of those who are hurting, frustrated and scared, asking God in prayer, "My Lord, who have you put in my life for me to tell about Jesus?" In this perspective, battle-fields, recruit training centers, hospitals and prisons are the best places for evangelism. The target persons to evangelize may be our subordinates, colleagues, seniors and their families around us. We are already among the people, among soldiers every day. In a military hospital, target persons may include seriously sick patients, psychopathic patients, and patients waiting for operation. The question is "What are we doing there? Are we looking for opportunities to preach the Gospel? 

 We should build friendly relationships with the target persons before preaching the Gospel to them. If we are going to be successful in drawing people toward God, we should find out the best way to build friendly relationships with them, which creates opportunities to attract them to the Gospel. When building relationships, nothing will replace face-to-face contact even in a technological age in which telephone, internet and E-mail are used as the useful means of communication. Face-to-face evangelism will be an important component in a comprehensive evangelism program.

 Whoever around us may be the target person to evangelize; nevertheless,  face-to-face evangelism must not be done haphazardly. Rather, it must be carried out with careful planning. We would rather select the target persons in advance, and study about them, and map up how to build relationships with them, where and when to call on them, and what to say.

 When we want to evangelize soldiers, we need to make visits to barracks, training camps, the wards of hospitals, and the cells of prisons which the Holy Spirit prompts you to go to. In case we want to evangelize soldiers' families, we need to make door-to-door visitation. Brochures need to be prepared for the occasion. If the people are not home, the brochure should be left in the door.

 The approaching method should vary depending on the evangelistic phenomena of the nation and of the Armed Forces. In case military authorities grant the necessary permission, the MCF can adopt a direct evangelistic approach, encouraging individual members and missionary teams to do evangelistic activities or conduct evangelistic campaigns to witness to service personnels and the entire military society directly or overtly. It may include various evangelistic activities such as open-air-preaching, distribution of Christian literature, telephone evangelism, E-mail evangelism, internet evangelism, door-to-door visitation, recruit training center ministry, prison ministry, hospital ministry, reconciliation ministry, etc. On the other hand, in case overt evangelistic activities are prohibited by laws and military regulations, the MCF cannot help but adopting an indirect evangelistic approach in which evangelism should be conducted indirectly or covertly under the guise of medical services, beauty treatment services, sewing education, English camp training, computer education, Taekwondo training, leadership education, marriage education, etc.

 Korean military authorities grant the necessary permission to do religious activities. Accordingly, we can adopt a direct evangelistic approach in Armed Forces Capital Hospital, conducting various evangelistic programs as follows: ward-to-ward visitation evangelism, distribution of Christian literature evangelism, intensive-care-unit ministry, psychiatric ward ministry, hospice ministry, pre-operation room evangelism, campaign to help care-givers, campaign to help needy soldiers, etc.  


Explaining the Gospel

 The Gospel can be preached in many ways, and the way of explaining the Gospel must be tailored to meet the situations in which evangelists proclaim the Gospel. Different people require different appeals to attract them to the Gospel. Some people respond to intellectual appeals; others require more emotional appeals. If we are going to be successful in drawing people toward God, we must use different appeals to different people.

 Two methods of explaining the Gospel are below as illustrations:

1. Four Spiritual Laws

 Just as there are physical laws that govern the physical universe, so are there spiritual laws that govern our relationship with God.

 a. Law 1 : God loves us and has a wonderful plan for our life.

  Nevertheless, why is it that most people are not experiencing the abundant life? The second law explains the reason...

 b. Law 2 : Man is sinful and separated from God. Therefore, he cannot know and experience God's love and plan for his life.

The third law explains the only way to bridge this gulf ...

 c. Law 3 : Jesus Christ is God's only provision for man's sin. Through Him we can know and experience God's love and plan for our life.

  God has bridged the gulf that separates us from Him by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die on the cross in our place to pay the penalty for our sins. It is not enough just to know these three laws...

 d. Law 4 : We must individually receive Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God's love and plan for our life.

   God knows our hearts and is not so concerned with our words as He is with the attitude of our hearts. The following is the prayer of commitment for someone who wants to invite Jesus Christ into his life:

"Father God, I want to say sorry for my sins, for all those things I've ever said, done or thought that were wrong. I choose to turn from these things. I believe Jesus died to take my sins upon Himself so I could be free to know You. Right now, Jesus, I ask You to come and live inside me by filling me with Your Holy Spirit, to change my life forever. Amen"

2. Eternal Life Through Jesus

 John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life." This verse means that humanity sinned against God and was separated from Him, resulting in getting into disastrous situations, but God is so gracious and loved the world so much that He didn't spare His one and only Son, and sent Jesus Christ to this world and crucified Him in order to forgive us our trespasses by redeeming us from all sins, and to grant us eternal life; and God also resurrected Him so that we may have the hope of the Resurrection on the Judgment Day. Therefore, whoever believes in Jesus finds salvation and is blessed in this world, enjoying happy life; and when leaving this world, he shall  enter the Kingdom of God, having eternal life. 

 In John 14:6, Jesus says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." The way means the only means of going to God's House, the final destination of the human being. The truth means the very reality and ethics which define the righteous standards of going to God. The truth means the dynamic which can sustain and make man attain the final destination. Therefore,  Jesus is the only way to find salvation and to enter the Kingdom of God, securing eternal life. In this light, the first foreign missionaries who could say only a few Korean words shouted out only two words "Yesoo Chundang" which is interpreted, "Jesus is the Kingdom of Heaven," meaning, "Let's believe in Jesus and go to the Kingdom of Heaven". This message worked very well because it is the point of the Gospel.


Sharing A Life Message

 God has given us a life message to share. When we became a believer, we also became God's messenger. We have a storehouse of experiences that God wants to use to bring others into His family. God wants us to share our stories with others. Sharing our testimony is an essential part of our mission on earth, because it is unique. There is no other story just like ours, so only we can share it. If we don't share it, it will be lost forever.

 Actually, our personal testimony is more effective than a sermon, because unbelievers see pastors and missionaries as professional salesmen, but see us as a "satisfied customer", so they give us more credibility.

 Personal stories are also easier to relate to than principles, and people love to hear them. They capture people's attention, and people remember them longer. Unbelievers would probably lose interest if we started quoting theologians, but they have a natural curiosity about experiences they have never had. Shared stories build a relational bridge that Jesus can walk across from our hearts to others.

 Another value of our testimony is that it bypasses intellectual defenses. Many people who won't accept the authority of the Bible will listen to a humble, personal story. That is why on six different occasions the apostle Paul used his testimony to share the gospel instead of quoting Scripture (Acts 22 to 26).

 1 Peter 3:15,16 says, "Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you, but do it with gentleness and respect." The best way to "be ready" is to write out our testimony and then memorize the main points. Divide it into four parts as follow :

 - What our lives were like before we were Christians.

 - How we realized we needed Jesus Christ.

 - How we committed our lives to Jesus Christ.

 - The difference Jesus has made in our lives. What it means to us now.

 Of course, we have many other stories beside our salvation story. We may have a story for every experience in which God has helped us. We should make a list of all the problems, circumstances, and crises that God has brought us through. Then be sensitive and use the story so wisely that our unbelieving friends may accept it. Our stories and techniques should vary according to the characteristics of the hearers and locations. Different situations call for different testimonies.


Personal Preparation to Conduct Personal Evangelism

1. Putting on the full armor of God

 Ephesians 6:12 says, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world and against the spiritual  forces of evil in the heavenly realm." Likewise, the church of Jesus Christ is at war with this dark world and with evil spiritual forces. Our only weapon for this war is the full armor of God, which are the belt of truth, the breast-plate of righteousness, the sandal of the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God (Ephesians 6:13-17).

 Therefore, we need to get and use this full armor in order to fight against the evil spiritual forces which are hindering our evangelistic works. It means that the MCF should carry forward an intensive spiritual discipline program for all members, just like a recruit training program of the Armed Forces. This program may include Bible study, discipleship training, lectures/seminars/workshops, prayer meetings, retreats or conferences, whether all together or part of them. The choice of type and method may depend upon the situations and objectives of the MCF. For instance, a group of MCF members goes into a retreat for a long weekend, and they have prayer meetings, Bible study, discipleship training, lectures/seminars/workshops in order to encourage one another to grow in spirit, resulting in putting on the full armor of God.   

2. Prayer

 Prayer has a vital part to play in evangelism. People may refuse our love or reject our messages, but they are defenseless against our prayers. Like an intercontinental missile, we can aim a prayer at a person's heart whether we are 1 meter or 1,000 kilometer away.

 In Acts 13:1-3, while Antioch church were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. These verses mean that the Holy Spirit has the supreme authority in evangelism. He is the One who selects evangelists and sends them out with the Gospel. Antioch church obeyed the Holy Spirit's guidance and prayed before sending out the evangelists. Therefore, we should pray for the Holy Spirit's guidance in formulating an evangelistic strategy and carrying out evangelistic works. 

 With practice we can develop the habit of praying silent "breath prayer" as an effective tool for evangelism. Whenever you approach the target person to make disciple of him, pray silently, "My Lord, help me persuade this person to accept the Gospel and to receive Jesus as his personal Savior."

 What should you pray for? The Bible tells us to pray for:

 - Opportunities to witness (Colossians 4:3; Romans 1:10)

 - Courage to speak up (Ephesians 6:19)

 - Those who will believe (John 17:20)

 - The rapid spread of the message (2 Thessalonians 3:1)

 - More workers (Matthew 9:38)

3. Setting up an example of real Christian life

 Many Christians evangelize in the normal course of their lives without realizing it. A word in season in the office, barrack, training site, or sports hall may be far more powerful than any sermon preached in the context of the church. People evaluate us through our daily lives and everyday works. When they see our good deeds and hear our encouraging words and smell the fragrance of Jesus Christ through us, they may put trust in us and be impressed with our testimony. On the other hand, when they are unpleasant at our careless words and inadequate deeds, they may not put trust in us and agree with our messages.

 Therefore, we should serve our soldiers with Jesus' love and set up such an example of real Christian life that everybody may feel Jesus' love by taking a look at our eyes and by touching the edge of our clothes. We'd better pledge ourselves to be careful of our words, deeds, and even a slight motion in the presence of the target persons to evangelize, asking ourselves, "How many times have I been squandering my evangelistic opportunities because of my ungracious speech or act?"

4. Having deep compassion on the hell-bound

 Philippians 8:4 says, "Don't think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too." This is the first step to carrying out personal evangelism. Of course, this is a difficult mental shift because we are naturally self-absorbed and almost all worldly circumstances encourage us to think of ourselves. The only way we can make the paradigm switch is having deep compassion on unbelievers, who without Christ will be lost and headed for eternal separation from God. It is a godly passion to save unbelievers, and it is also a holy motivation of our personal evangelism. Without having deep compassion on unbelievers, we cannot build friendly relationships with them, which create opportunities to attract them to the Gospel.

 At the same time, we should, moment-by-moment, depend on Jesus Christ and ask Him to help us think of the spiritual need of unbelievers whenever we preach the Good News to them, praying silently, "My Lord, help me understand this person's situation, including what is keeping him from knowing You."

5. Having faith and a positive attitude

 Faith is the arena where God and our spirit meet. Faith is the work of our spirit, but originates from God. We should have the faith of God (Mark 11:22). God has faith that all the people would believe in Jesus Christ and be saved, and so He crucified Jesus on the cross. Likewise, God has also faith that all military persons of all nations would believe in Jesus Christ.

 Therefore, we should have faith that all soldiers of our Armed Forces would believe in Jesus Christ. Faith is powerful thing but our faith should join the faith of God. Accordingly, we can approach the target person without hesitation, and proclaim the Gospel to him more positively, being confident that God will help us persuade him to accept the Gospel and to receive Jesus as his personal Savior. Now is the time to take a positive action in order to lead all unbelieving soldiers around us to saving faith in Jesus Christ.


Special Evangelistic Programs

1. Intensive-care-unit Ministry

 An intensive-care-unit is a section of the hospital in which extremely thorough treatment is provided for seriously sick patients who would die quickly if they were not being looked after. This section is one of the best places for evangelism because patients and their families are under serious tension, being anxious about whether their patients will be able to recover their health or not.

 Only authorized persons are allowed free access to this section. Therefore, Christian nurse officers conduct personal evangelism to preach the Gospel to patients while bestowing nursing care on them. Nurse officers strive to lead patients to realize God's love for them, and to understand Jesus' works to save man, and to feel confident of eternal life through Christ Jesus, and to have the hope of being restored to health by faith in Christ, and then invite them to pray the prayer of commitment. On occasion, evangelists may lead patients' families to participate in the prayer together with their patients. This ministry bears much fruit. For instance, a nurse officer led more than 2,000 patients to saving faith in Christ in the intensive-care-unit for the past ten years.

2. Pre-operation Room Evangelism

 A pre-operation room is a surgical preparation room in which patients are waiting for operation. This room is also one of the best places for evangelism because patients waiting for operation are very anxious about whether their operations will be successful or not.  Only authorized persons are allowed free access to this room. Therefore, in most cases, Christian nurse officers conduct personal evangelism, striving to comfort patients by preaching the Gospel and assuring that God loves them, and take care of them, and helps surgeons to successfully perform surgical operations on them. When patients seem to be interested in the message, they invite them to pray together to God for mercy. Most patients including even Buddhists accept their proposal, and participate in the prayer. No patient waiting for operation seems to be free from anxiety about the result of the impending operation. Evangelists ought to be wise enough to make the best of patients' feelings of anxiety in order to lead them to Christ.      

3. Psychiatric Ward Ministry

 A psychiatric ward is an isolation section of the hospital which accommodates mentally deranged persons who are suffering from depression, anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder, obsession, megalomania, autistic, or schizophrenia. Only authorized persons are allowed free access to this section. This section is also one of the best places for evangelism because insane persons are craving for mental security which is satisfied only by God's grace. Therefore, evangelists should endeavor to comfort patients by assuring that God loves them, and has already forgiven their sins, and protects them all the time, and will lead them into the Kingdom of Heaven in the end.

 Some schizophrenes are obsessed by demons. In order to drive out demons, evangelists, first of all, lead them to say the prayer of commitment a few times. In case as yet demons do not go out of them, evangelists lead them to sing several hymns praising Jesus' blood all together. It works very well, even though we don't know its functional mechanism and process.



 Being a Christian includes being sent into the world as a representative of Jesus Christ. The mission Jesus had while on earth is now our mission, because we are the Body of Christ. Fulfilling our life mission on earth is an essential part of living for God's glory. Therefore, personal evangelism is our primary mission and major activity we should accomplish together with every other member of the AMCF.

 Reflecting on my experience of personal evangelism in Armed Forces Capital Hospital, I can affirm that a military hospital is one of the best places for evangelism. Telling patients how to have eternal life is the greatest thing we can do for them, and it gives us real joy, even though it may be the only reward we receive.





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