Each month this year our staff will choose a different aspect of discipleship to share as the focus for that given month. Discipleship is the process of growing to be more like Jesus, part of The Journey every Christian embarks upon when surrendering their life to Christ. The discipleship focus for the month of May is Evangelism, an importance that might best be illustrated by a story.
In the salty town of Charlotte, North Carolina in 1934, some young people began to contemplate kicking up a stir at the local tent revival. The fiery traveling preacher, Mordecai Ham, was regularly calling out sin under the revival tent and in particular, the sins of unrestrained youth. Out of curiosity, one young man decided to attend one of those tent meetings to see what all the fuss was about. Ham’s thunder against sin made the young man uncomfortable for several nights as it seemed the evangelist was talking directly to him. To avoid his guilt, the young man joined the revival choir to sit in the service behind the gospel preacher so their eyes would not lock. But it was no use. Eventually the Spirit of God won his heart and young Billy Graham was converted and went on to preach the same message of salvation to millions more.
Most who are familiar with revival history know of Mordecai Ham’s influence on Billy Graham. But it’s the chain of events previously that make this story interesting. Mordecai Ham accepted the invitation to Charlotte by a group of businessmen who were influenced by the baseball legend-turned-preacher Billy Sunday. Sunday learned to preach after his conversion by watching the ministry of evangelist Wilbur Chapman. Chapman surrendered to evangelism when Frederic Meyer, a visiting preacher, asked during an invitation, “If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?” Frederic Meyer resigned his small church in the British Isles to preach the gospel to hundreds across continents under the revival meetings of D.L. Moody, pioneer of the Sunday School movement, Chicago pastor of Illinois Street Church (Moody Church) in Chicago, Illinois, and world-renown evangelist. So in effect, you could say that the greatest evangelist of the 20th century, Billy Graham, was indirectly influenced by the greatest evangelist of the 19th century, D.L. Moody.
Evangelism, sharing the gospel, has always been at the heart of obedience in days when Christianity was its strongest. Whether in fields or chapels, publicly or in private conversation, the gospel story shared from one person to another has transformed lives, shaped national cultures, and built the bedrock of the most civilized and prosperous nations in the world.
But the question before us in the month of May is not whether we believe in a philosophy of evangelism, but whether we practice evangelism. When was the last time you invited someone to surrender their life to the Lordship of Jesus? If you find it difficult, you can take comfort in knowing that your church is routinely deploying members into the community, working alongside community partners, to get outside our bubble of sheltered relationships to share the gospel with our neighbors and community. Just this month, members will be engaged in Hope Pregnancy Center, CarePortal, and St. Paul’s Community School where dozens of gospel conversations will be taking place. Will you be a part of this groundswell?
Curious who led D.L. Moody to faith in Christ? Edward Kimball, his Sunday School teacher, became so burdened for the boys in his class that he decided to have one-on-one conversations with each. Kimball tracked the young Moody down in the shoe store where Moody was making a career in footwear. There in that storeroom on a Saturday, Kimball led Moody to saving faith in Jesus never knowing that his one act of obedience would lead millions to faith in Christ through countless evangelism crusades across centuries and continents. If you are not willing to give up everything for Christ, are you willing to be made willing?
You can read more about The Journey online at WilmontPlace.com. But don’t just read about The Journey, make sure your obedience to Christ has you progressing along a journey of discipleship in serving Him and growing to be more like Him in your daily life.
(Written by Shawn Nichols, Senior Pastor)
Wilmont Place Baptist Church is a Southern Baptist church of 150 active members on the south side of Oklahoma City. Text-driven expository preaching, Bible-teaching, personal growth, and community evangelism define the culture and direct the activities and events of the congregation. The church is working through a formal revitalization strategy in which members become family and the community becomes ministry.