In April a neighbour stopped us in the street and said he wanted to come to church with us. Shocked, we asked why. He said he’d been feeling low and depressed for a while. He was training to join the police force and all the senior, most respected officers he’d met were Christians. They spoke openly about the difference it made knowing Jesus. So he decided he needed to find out about whether Jesus could help him. Since then he’s been coming to Zoom church and in person when regulations allow. My husband has been introducing him to Jesus through the gospels. They’ve been meeting to do Seeker Bible Studies; online, in person, or over the garden fence. In mid-January he had a dream – he heard Jesus speaking to him. After this he was really scared so started praying and hasn’t stopped since! A week later they went walking and Jon asked if he was ready to become a Christian. He said, “Yes”. So on a cold, wet bench, in the middle of lockdown, with so many restrictions around us, he gave his life to Christ.
This story is a huge encouragement. But many of us are feeling weary and heavily burdened, and church feels so very different right now. Trying to muster up enough energy and enthusiasm to do evangelism seems virtually impossible. Fortunately for us, God is at work in powerful ways. Douglas Johnson shares a key lesson learnt by students in World War 1, one that we should listen to today. “The Spirit does not depend on material conditions… the Spirit is not in chains”.
Although we can feel constrained, locked down and frustrated the Spirit is still at work. Although the world is in lockdown there is an open door for evangelism right now. I could share about how God has been at work through online events, mission weeks & evangelistic courses. But those are stories for another day. The stories I want you to hear are how God has been at work raising up creative, courageous evangelists in churches across the UK. Here are a few of those stories:
Jessica – Together at Home
During the Pandemic, Jessica began sharing free resources for churches on social media. What began as a weekly pack has expanded to include seasonal resources, prayer activities and responses to world events. 5000 people and churches have joined the group to access the resources. At Christmas she created a printable trail which shared the Nativity story. The Together at Home trail was used by 50 churches around the UK. Jessica says, “It was amazing to hear how God had used the trail to reach families. I can’t wait to see how God uses our Easter Trail to share the Gospel in communities this year”.
Tim – Look for Hope
At the beginning of the first lockdown, Tim saw that church leaders were scrambling to produce online content for their churches. There was a lack of content for those outside the church who were feeling anxious and looking for hope. So after making a couple of videos for his friends on social media, Tim set up lookforhope.org. Look for Hope is an evangelistic website full of short blog posts and videos that point people to the hope that only Jesus can give. Tim recruited friends from a variety of church backgrounds to write blogs. The site had thousands of hits as people shared the blogs on social media. He says, “One of the joys has been the way ‘ordinary’ Christians have stepped out to share hope with their friends. We’ve realised that we are the best evangelists for our own friends, even with all our fears and inadequacies.”
Rosie – Operation doorstep
Rosie, a student worker, has been thriving. She likes to call what she’s been up to, ‘Operation doorstep’. She ordered rubber bands, chocolates and some ‘Hope in Coronavirus’ tracts from 10ofthose. Each morning, she wrote a different thought-provoking question on a whiteboard on her driveway, and propped it up with a box of books and tracts, inviting people to take a free gift. The contents of the first box emptied within 2 weeks. So she kept going, restocking and redesigning. In total; 106 evangelistic books, 18 New Testaments, two Bibles & 53 tracts were taken. Rosie says, “I don’t know what you think of doorstep evangelism. But the truth is that we do have a hope. People are more prepared to listen than reluctant Christians like me are prepared to speak about it”.
There are huge opportunities to run online events and courses. Trends in lockdown mission have included a greater reach, creativity and collaboration. But don’t forget to look within your church for the organic, creative evangelists sharing the gospel even in a lockdown! I’m pretty sure there is a Jessica, Tim or Rosie in your church too. Please do look out for them, encourage them and pray for them.