The Word on the Streets— The Face of Street Evangelism

David Hull is one of our fine Asbury students who has spent the summer as an intern at IHOP in Kansas City this summer.      He has written the following report…..  Read it carefully.  BW3

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Brothers and sisters,

As I am approaching the end of my summer internship here at the International House of Prayer, I wanted to take a moment and thank you for your prayers and support, as well as for your words of encouragement throughout the summer! These, beyond a shadow of a doubt, carried me during the dark and trying moments, and reminded me that we all walk together in this journey of faith.

Before I share with you a short story, I wanted to distill a quick insight to you from my time on the streets. This summer I have spoken with hundreds of people, in three different states, in multiple cities, with diverse ethnic, economic, and religious backgrounds. I have sat down with drunkards and crack addicts, Native American medicine men as well as pastors, the wealthy as well as the homeless, atheists and transvestites, along with the irreligious and the broken.

Each of the people I met has a name and a story, dreams and ambitions, families and futures. They are not nameless nor are they faceless. Their pain is real, their sorrow is genuine, their hopelessness is tangible, and their sin is deadly. For each one, Jesus died on the cross, and for each one He promised that if they would repent and call upon His name in poverty of spirit, they would be saved. However, no one can call upon His name if they do not hear the gospel.

On the streets I encountered physical and verbal persecution as well as rejoicing at words of hope and life. The most shocking reality that broke into my heart was this: the harshest persecution I encountered was neither from the drug addict nor the homeless man, neither from the atheist nor from the transvestite, neither from the Muslim nor from the Hindu…. but instead it came from those that call themselves Christians.

I have lost friends this summer because of this newsletter I send out, and things have been spoken against me in the name of Jesus that makes my heart grieve. I have encountered “Christians” so entrenched in sinful living that they proclaim”free and cheap grace” that becomes license for sin. Beloved, the cost paid for our lives was not cheap; the Son of God laid down His life in order to set us free. There is no forgiveness apart from repentance, and repentance is not simply saying, “I’m sorry,” and then continuing in the same lifestyle. It is a radical re-orientation toward the truth and a striving to live God’s way. There is absolutely grace for those who have a ‘yes’ in their hearts and are growing in their faith, and they should be encouraged in their walk with God.

Mostly what I hear on the streets from Christians is that we are called to be witnesses in the way that we live our lives rather than being vocal with the gospel. This is such a grievous deception that I fear many will perish for lack of the knowledge of God. It is true that we are called to bear witness with lives of holiness and love, and it is also true that 87% of all people who come into the kingdom of God do so through their friends and family rather than through evangelistic outreach.

However, what I have come to realize is that 13% of the world’s 7 billion people amounts to 910 million souls. We serve a God who would leave the 99 to seek and save the 1 that is lost. It is the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and the radical way in which He pursues us that makes me love Him so much. I want to be like him, and I do not want for a single person to perish because I argued for all the good reasons why I shouldn’t go out and share the gospel. People cannot call on His name without hearing the gospel, and the power of the gospel presentation is muted when the life behind the words is not abandoned to the same holy love with which Jesus walked.

I share these thoughts with you because we are the church. We have the greatest gift known to mankind, the only source of salvation for those who are perishing, the only living hope, the consummate gift of eternal life, and it is criminal for us to withhold it from the world. Jesus is the source of all righteousness, joy, peace, love, and comfort. He is the answer to every question on the hearts of people, thus I want to invite you to boldly begin to share the gospel with those who do not know Him how majestic He truly is!

Scripture of the Day

WHOEVER WILL CALL ON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.” How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? How will they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how will they hear without a preacher? How will they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, “HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GOOD NEWS OF GOOD THINGS!”                  –Romans 10:13-15

Quote of the Day:

The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.          –C. S. Lewis

Prayer Requests:

Strength and perseverance to finish internship with passion

Provision for the next 2 years of seminary

Wisdom and insight as I begin preparing to lead college ministry this fall

Clarity of vision on next steps in journey

Testimony of the Day:

The other day while we were out in the Plaza shopping center on street outreach, a large tattooed homeless man attempted to kick me in the face. I wish that in that moment my response had been more Christ-like, but my own spiritual immaturity was revealed as I dodged the boot aimed at my face and dropped back into a fighting stance, fully intending to knock the man out. Thank God that He is faithful to reveal the rough edges in our lives that He desires to refine if we will be receptive to those moments of discipline.

My outreach leader intervened with such a peace and serenity that it was surreal. In that moment I saw Jesus Christ reflected in the flesh. He diffused the situation and calmly led us away. In his gentleness, he shared with me a testimony that will impact me for the rest of my life, and I want to share it with you.

My leader’s name was Clay, and he himself was a recent graduate from the internship that I am involved with. He recounted an experience that he had had around a year and a half ago.

Clay was on the streets sharing the gospel with a couple of men, when all of a sudden they began to assault him. In his spirit, he felt that God called for him to not retaliate. Clay is a large man, standing around 6’4 and weighing about 210 lbs., and he works as a roofer, thus most of his weight is muscle. He was larger than the two men by a good bit, and could have won the fight easily, but instead he permitted them to pummel him mercilessly, leaving him bleeding on the ground. He shared with me the utter humiliation and powerlessness he felt at not being able to defend himself, though he knew that he could have.

God did not immediately give Clay clarity about His reasoning for asking him to not defend himself, but Clay entrusted himself to the only One who judges righteously. About 8 months later, Clay was driving home from work, and he saw one of those men walking along the side of the road. He felt an impression on his heart to offer the man a ride.

When the man got in the car and saw who it was, Clay spoke forgiveness over the man’s life, and began sharing the gospel with him as he drove the man to his destination. The man broke down, weeping profusely, convicted by Clay’s non-retaliation and his subsequent offer of undeserved forgiveness. Through both his words and deeds matching the life of Christ, Clay was able to lead this man to repentance, and to invite him to give his life to Jesus right there in the car.

A couple of months later, Clay was again driving home from work, and he saw the other man walking alongside of the road. Again, he felt prompted to pick the man up and offer him a ride. Once again, the man commenced weeping when he saw Clay. This man had gone to jail a month after assaulting Clay on the street, and his life had been radically altered by the message of the cross in prison. He had given his life over to Jesus while attending daily bible studies, and had been released earlier that day, and he had been plagued with a burden of guilt for what he had done to Clay for months.

Clay once again spoke the message of undeserved forgiveness over the man in the name of Jesus, and the two of them have been friends ever since. I wonder if there is anyone in our lives who is undeserving of our forgiveness, yet might see Jesus for the very first time in that selfless action on our part?

Do we really know what it means to “take up our cross” or that “we are no longer our own”. It is hard for us to understand that as servants of God, we have no rights, no privileges, no freedoms that He might not ask us to lay down in order that someone might come to know Him, including our very own lives. The only way to live this abandoned to God is to have eternity stamped on our hearts and on our eyes.

I am not there, but I desire to be. If Jesus laid down His life for us, we also should be willing to lay down our lives for others (1 John 3:16). That is not figurative language. We really need to be willing to lay down our lives in order to share the gospel. Do we understand the power of the gospel? Do we truly understand the cost of discipleship? Are we willing to follow wherever Jesus leads, or have we put our hands to the plow only to continually looking back? Are we living as strangers and pilgrims whose citizenship is in heaven or are we bound to this life?

God alone can answer those questions for each of us, but they are questions that need to be asked because not everyone who says “Lord, Lord” will be saved (Matt. 7:21-23; 25:11-13; Luke13:24-27). The way is narrow, many will seek for it, but few will find it. Many are called, but few are chosen (Matt. 22:14). These are not fear tactics, they are legitimately the words that Jesus spoke, and He indicated how difficult it was to truly be His disciple because we are so prone to be double-minded.

Speaking solely for myself, I can say that I do not yet know the fulness of the cost of discipleship. I struggle mightily with the fear of man and a deep desire to please people. I am terrified of offending people or hurting their feelings or being labeled as intolerant. However, I desire for the ‘yes’ in my heart  toward God to be greater than it is toward men, and that I would seek His praise above that of men, because it is His praise alone that will last into eternity. The words of men are but vapor that will perish with this life. There is a silence birthed from the fear of man that can be eternally unloving toward men and women.

I would invite you to ask these questions for yourselves before God, as He alone rightly judges your thoughts and motives of your hearts. Would you join me in orienting your lives to His commandments, which are for our benefit, and would you consider walking with me in elevating your ‘yes’ to Him above your ‘yes’ to men? This will result in your receiving eternal glory, praise, and honor (1 Pet. 1:7)!!

I love you all, and am grateful for brothers and sisters with whom I may walk on this pilgrimage! As always, share with me your thoughts, comments, concerns, and prayer requests. May God bless your obedience to Him abundantly our of the riches of His glory!
Grace and peace,

David Hull

  • Michael Flowers

    Thanks to Ben for sharing such a raw and real prophetic call to share, with lovely feet, the good news of Jesus. Thanks to David for sharing his heart, his experience, his life. Grace and Peace to all.

  • Graham Veale

    It took a lot of guts not to fight back! Not to mention self control! And, if I read this right, Clay wasn’t even arguing that he didn’t have a moral right to fight his way to safety. He had that right – but he set that aside on the basis of a conviction.
    What Jack Bauer wouldn’t do….

  • Graham Veale

    Actually, that was quite a morale boost! I thought that men like Clay had passed with my Grandfather’s generation!
    Thanls Dr Witherington and David.

  • Jon Altman

    Isn’t the International House of Pancakes suing the International House of Prayer over copyright for IHOP?

  • http://www.simplicitybyheather.blogspot.com/ Heather Doss

    David,
    this is thought-provoking for me. i am one of those people who mostly prefer “preaching without words”, a relationship-based evangelistic lifestyle…. sure, that has to do with personality type and maybe some bad experiences, but your words do convict me. good word.
    thanks for sharing, friend!

  • http://www.patheos.com David Gibbs

    I hear you David and I respect your passion. I think there is room for a variety of types of evangelism. Some of it may have to do qwith your personality, your gifting and even the local cutlural norms which would determine how receptive persons are to a particular style of evangelism. Let me not judge you but I still get the uneasy feelign that alot of street evangelism tends to revolve around the christian who is presenting the gosple and his need to feel that he is labouring for God, more than it revolves around the sinner and his entire life. Maybe I am over generalising. I mean no offense. Keep the good work up David. God’s guidance.

  • Graham Veale

    A little off topic here, Dr Witherington, but have you ever addressed the topic of the demonic? Not the spectacular power encounters, but rather the powers and principalities that Paul tells us to pray against, and which can impede evangelism?
    I’d like to be able to think about these in a biblical, sensible way, that avoid sensationalism. I found Clinton Arnold’s “Powers and Principalities” helpful. I was hoping for more guidance along those lines. I think the Church needs it, and I think that I need it.

    Graham

  • http://asimpleandspirituallife.org francis

    The brethren of The Messiah have taken heed unto The Call to “Come Out of her, MY people!”! And they no longer have their portion with those who follow “the broad way that leads to destruction”! (Revelation 18:4, Matthew 7:13)

    Thankfully they are but “aliens and pilgrims while on the earth” for their “citizenship is in Heaven”! (Hebrews 11:13, 1Peter 2:11, Philippians 3:20)

    So it is that they have “Come Out” of the systems that are of this wicked world, and especially it’s systems of religion!

    And they have taken heed unto the exhortation to:

    “Love Not The World”

    ”For the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one”……. (I John5:19)

    John testified, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.”(IJohn2:15-17)

    The Messiah testified, “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John15:19-20)

    James testified, “Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

    The Messiah testified, “The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” And Paul testified, “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

    The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

    John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13)

    James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD!” (James4:4)

    “Come Out of her, MY people”!

    “Come Out” of the systems that are of this wicked world, especially it’s systems of religion for they but carry on the legacy of the pharisee’s ;-(

    Global warming, polluted air, land and waters; toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, systems of religion, lies, deception, delusion, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease(no-peace),,etc,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life” which caused Eve to fall victim to ‘d’evil, and which continue to fuel the fires of mankind’s “imag”ination ;-(

    “Come out from among them and be separate”!

    Do not have your portion with those who are destroying Creation(air, water, land, vegetation, creatures) and perverting that which is Spirit(Truth, Light, Life, Love, Peace, Grace, Faith,,,, All that is Truly Good)! 

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world and it’s systems of religion, for “the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one” indeed and Truth……(1 John 5:19)

    Truth IS, a lie never was and is not…….

    Abide in Truth……. francis asimpleandspirituallife.org

  • RickC

    Thank you Doc W for sharing this post. God works in so many wonderful and yet mysterious ways. May God’s continued grace and peace be with David and Clay and ALL the lives they have touched!

    Father we thank you daily and deeply for your grace, your mercy, your goodness and for changed lives. But most of all, thank you for using each of us as we are knowing that your hand, your spirit, your deep love always abides and guides and causes us to grow to be more like Christ our dear beloved redeemer. Being confident of this that He who began a good work in you will continue it until the day of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen and amen!

    May there never be a day in Christianity when the life’s stories like those of David and Clay are never shared. That’s one of the most beautiful things I love about being Christian. Though I have never met or heard of David and Clay before today I know they are my brothers in Christ and I have a bond with them as I do with all saints and I can pray with them and love them and laugh with them and cry wlith as if they were my own beloved brother.

    Would like to recommend a book: Megan’s Secrets.
    The book was written by Mike Cope who I recently heard preach while in Colorado. Mike is a Professor of Bibe at Abiliene Christian University, Abilene, Texas. Mike’s recent sermon was about the life and death of his mentally retarded, dearly beloved daughter Megan but also about the near death of his son in a car accident some years later while returning to Abilene from Dallas following a youth rally. Very heart touching stories and Mike is such a gifted scholar/speaker.

  • RickC

    My posts are NEVER NEVER meant to be antagonistic or hurtful! Nor are they ever directed toward any person or group maliciously!

  • Geoff

    Wonderful writing. May I ask – do you have a source on the 87 / 13% split you mentioned? I’m interested in reading more.

  • http://www.eeinternational.org cfb

    What a wonderful display of compassion and courage for the lost.

    Ben – please let David know that if wants to continue his ministry of evangelism after he graduates to please get in touch with EEInternational.org. We’d be glad to have him serve with us.

  • http://www.lettersfromthetop.wordpress.com David

    Thank you all for the encouragement!

    Geoff,
    To the best of my knowledge, the information came from Barna research in 2007. If you haven’t explored their website, it is full of a plethora of information that is thought provoking. Check it out at http://www.barna.org. Blessings!

    Grace and peace,

    David

  • garyk51188

    Right. Interesting situation with the two guys. I understand the passivity, and certainly the Lord calming him to not resist.

    It would be more difficult if one were standing there with these two hurting a third person.

    The Lord would have to intervene with me to prevent my assisting to stop it.

    May He grant me to do the right thing — whatever that is, if that should ever happen.

    Kindest regards,
    garyk51188


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