Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Witnessing - Part II

A Brief Note to You!

Beloved brethren, I encourage you not to despise the teachings the Lord gives us for your benefit. If you are being edified by the visions we receive from the Lord and share with you, you should also humble yourself and learn how to best do the will of God. The things we teach are of practical nature and that is why we add our testimonies. Witnessing is what God has called every believer to do, whether abled or disabled, as we will see later in our testimonies section. This is a basic command from the Lord to us, to GO and deliver a message from Him to our immediate families, friends, neighbours, co-workers, community and society. This message of salvation is for the entire human race (Luke 2:10-14, Acts 1:8).

In His faithfulness, the Lord brings a Word every Sunday evening for the new week’s article. This is the Lord Jesus speaking to you through these articles. If you have faith, you will discern the truth; but if you are doubtful you, would not obey. We will however be faithful to the Lord and to those who truly recognise and hear His voice through these articles. In all our writings, we do not promote a ministry, person, or some doctrine; instead we proclaim directly what the Lord wants you to know. As I mention in our previous article, we have had the honour of receiving words and powerful visions from the Lord for the past three years and in none of all the messages we received was there particular reference to doctrines or some specific messages. The messages coming from the Lord are simple. He emphasises faith, obedience, and right attitude through the application of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. That is why we do not shift to a particular doctrinal position in our articles. In conclusion to this note, seek the Lord through prayer and don’t wait for the witnessing call from your pastor or leader. GO out and witness because it is the Lord who called you to Him for His glory and service (John 15:16). If the Word of the Lord is in your heart, you will obey and do it! (Psalm 119:11). This is love we show to the Lord, to do His word! The Lord once told Charis after we listened to a Hell preaching: I could see the WORD in the hearts of the people as they listened to that CD”. Seek the Lord’s favour and ready yourself for service, to Christ we belong and to Christ we must account for ourselves (Romans 14:8-12).

Who Should We Witness To?

“How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns” (Isaiah 52:7 NIV).

Having opened with the above verse, we also need to emphasize the importance of the Lord’s words where He said: Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptising 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. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28: 19-20 NIV).

In our Witnessing Part I article, we spoke about the basic message of salvation. This is a continuation from this previous article, with new insights and living testimonies. In response to our Witnessing Part I article, a reader asked a very important question. ‘Being a witness, should I omit the mark of the beast message in my salvation letter?’ We replied saying “NO!” God called us to carry His warnings and promises to all nations as a testimony (John 3:16-18; Matthew 24:14).

Furthermore, from the Scriptures we read that almost the entire world’s population was present when the Good News of salvation first broke (Acts 2:5-11). God in His infinite wisdom gathered the nations to Jerusalem prior to the day of Pentecost as witnesses and made them hear for themselves and in their own languages the message of salvation (Acts 2:8). This is who we should proclaim the gospel to, ’every creature under Heaven’ (Mark 16:15). The earlier apostles demonstrated to us by going first to their own race and country man and then to the nations (Acts 13:46). This was amidst fierce opposition. The situation is the same today; people have their own beliefs and the Lord set us here to change perceptions and proclaim the message of truth (2 Corinthians 10:5).

We Must Challenge All Religions

As it is, we are commanded to go to all religious groups without compromise (Acts 17:2-34). The Apostle Paul’s testimony was powered by faith and his own personal testimony (Acts 9). He used the Scriptures to back up his claims (Acts 17:2-3). He said “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ (Messiah)” and some were convicted through a truthful persuasion. (Acts 17:3-4). We know that the spreading of humanism and freedom of religion has greatly limited the preaching of the Gospel; however that should not discourage us to be witnesses to those known or unknown to us.

Additionally, like the apostles Paul and Barnabas, they challenged wrong beliefs from the scriptures (Acts 14:1-28).

Barriers to Effective Witnessing

Our witnessing work is being challenged by the following obstacles:-
  • Laziness and unfaithfulness (Matthew 25:24-28)
  • Disobedience (Jonah 1:3)
  • Not studying the Bible sufficiently (2 Timothy 2:15)
  • Some are outright ashamed (Matthew 10:32)
  • Fear of people and excuses (Exodus 3,4; Jeremiah 1:8-9)
  • Church protocol or rules (Mark 9:40; Acts 28:20)
  • Doctrinal position (2 Corinthians 11:4, Galatians 1:8)
  • Hypocritical lifestyle (1 Peter 3:15-16) 
  • Doubtfulness and lack of confidence (2 Corinthians 4:13-15)
  • Different religions (Acts 19:24)
  • Government laws (Exodus 5)
  • Men’s Rules (Acts 4:18-20, Acts 5:29)
  • Language inability (1 Corinthians 2:4)
While this might not be an exhaustive list, it gives us an indication that some individuals are in bondage to some or all of these stumbling blocks. Before going to testimonies let us examine some witnessing tips or preparedness.

Effective Ways to Witness

There are no known Scriptural restrictions upon believers not to witness. We impose self-restrictions through some or all of the above barriers or restrictions set by others in authority (Acts 21:27-36). We become faithful and effective witnesses when we walk in simple faith and obedience:
  • Love for the Lord (John 14:15)
  • Faith through our experience with the Lord (Genesis 12:1-4; Acts 6:8; 2 Corinthians 4:13-15).
  • Obedience through holy living (Titus 2:11-14; Matthew 25:14-23).
  • Knowledge of your message and the scriptures (Acts 18:23; 19:41; 2 Timothy 2:15).
  • Being fearless (Acts 18:9-10; Joshua 1:9).
  • Being humble yet confident to proclaim the truth (2 Corinthians 10:1-3; Numbers 12:3; Philippians 2:6-11).
  • Being faithful in prayer to support your ministry and receive God’s favour (Acts 6:3-7; Colossians 4:12).
  • Loyalty to Christ alone and not the faith profession of your church (Matthew 16:24-27; Matthew 10:38; Luke 14:26-27).
  • Being Faithful (Hebrews 10:23; Colossians 4:13; Matthew 25; Acts: 21:4-14).
  • Being available and prepared to GO (2 Timothy 4:2; Ephesians 6:13-18).
With this you have a winning formula against Satan, people and your own fears and uncertainties. These were the tools we employed in our witnessing campaigns. Today, witnessing is being applied as only belonging to preachers of the gospel and missionaries, or Jehovah’s Witnesses cult. The average church-goer is encouraged to offer financial support for these projects, which is right according to the Scripture. However, this does not substitute our individual Christian responsibility to witness, nor does the Scripture give final authority to our leaders to make a call for witnessing. Instead the scriptures speak to us directly (2 Corinthians 5:18-21; Galatians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 8:1-8).

Brief Witnessing Testimonies

You might say, “Hey Glenn, you made it sound so Biblical, how do I go about doing witnessing”? Well, if you have feet then you can walk, and if you have a mouth then you can speak. Why must the message from God be so hard to speak about? I know why: because you are afraid of people and persecutions and are ashamed of the Lord! The Scripture we provided above are for your benefit and edification. Those are words of great comfort to you from the Lord; would the Lord speak in vain and not fulfil His promises? He says: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no-one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9-10).

When we first went out as a witnessing team, we based our faith on these promises and we went out witnessing. For a complete explanation on how we were called together as a team, kindly refer to our Introduction to witnessing article. We got together and prayed for about 10 minutes, took our Bibles and gospel tracts having discussed how we would witness. We jointly decided that we wouldn’t go knocking on doors that time of the night, but we would leave a gospel tract under the doors if there was no fence or put the tract in the mailboxes outside, while we would witness in person to those we come across in the streets. We then started out nervously and being uncertain especially after the Lord sent us out witnessing at night (8:00 pm). Like the Lord gave Ananias the street name to go lay hands on the Apostle Paul (Acts 9:11-12), He told us which street to start our witnessing. We went house to house with well-selected gospel tracts that contain the basic message of salvation, being the work of Christ on the cross (Romans 5:8) for mankind and God’s coming judgement of Hell punishment for those who rejects Him (Romans 2:9).

We divided ourselves up in groups of two and each took a street in that particular zone. As it is, we grew in confidence week after week as we learned from each other’s mistakes and approaches. The Lord did not tell us what we should say except to witness to people and lay hands on them if there was a need (Luke 9:1-2).

Moreover, after we finished witnessing our area we thought witnessing was done, but the Lord had other plans; He established this ministry as a witnessing body. He designated another area, much wider than ours and sent us during the day starting from 8:00pm to 10:00pm. We entered informal settlements where there were no street lights in certain parts of those zones. We faced all dangers from dogs, thugs, and cold by night, scorching heat by day and possibly falling in some trench or even losing our way. I witnessed only on my off days which was twice a week while my wife and the other woman witnessed from sunrise to sunset. We had no money or tracts; only our Bibles, a pen to write down verses and a notebook to record names for prayer.

During the day we go door to door witnessing, at night and because we ran out of gospel tracts, we look for a well-lit area that is frequently travelled by people going home from work or going to shop and we would stand there witnessing. The long hours of standing and walking contributed to our physical pain plus our desire to save souls. In a nutshell, South Africa is a multi-racial and multi-cultural society; the Lord sent us to all people representing our nation. Some members of our team predominantly speak English and Afrikaans, while another sister and I are well versed in the other African languages. This was a huge plus for our team.

Common Objections

As much as we gained momentum in soul winning, we also received a lot of rejections. I encouraged our team members not to be discouraged because people are rejecting the Lord and not us (Luke 10:16). For the first timers to witnessing, brace yourself to hear the following excuses:
  • I am busy and in a hurry
  • I am a Catholic or belong to some denomination
  • I am not born again, I’m just a Christian
  • I don’t believe in the Bible because it is written by man or flawed
  • I attend church
  • I am saved, but they are not witnessing
  • We don’t believe in Jesus, but God (denying the author of life and salvation His glory)
  • Please come see me tomorrow (when you go the next day they would have another excuse)
  • I can’t talk about that at work
  • I am not interested
These are but some of the objections people offer. When offered excuses we follow what the Bible says: move on to the next house or person (Matthew 10:23). If we are not firmly rooted in our faith and Bible knowledge (2 Timothy 2:15), some of the arguments offered could blow a doubtful believer back into sin. Even unbelievers will try to justify their beliefs by using Bible Scriptures out of context. In many of cases of heated arguments, we stood our ground and emerged victories with our faith and convictions (Acts 17:22-34).

Who are Called to Witness?

The call to witness is general and applies to men and women (Galatians 3:28). For a complete account on women witnessing, kindly see our article, Women and the gospel that saves’. Our witnessing team consist of seven (7) women and one male (I, Brother Glenn). Witnessing is everybody’s business, and if you are in Christ this becomes your business too (Acts 1:8; Mark 16:15). Let me warn you, trying to hide behind your financial contributions or pastor will not help. Like the parable of the talents, you will be individually judged (Matthew 25:15-30). Witnessing is very important to the Lord; He even sends our children out witnessing - please read more on this in our ‘Christian Parenting: Bringing up Children in the Fear of the Lord’ article.

If you are sick, but you can walk and talk, you must witness. The Lord once told a very dear sister not to use her sickness as an excuse, but that she must witness. In our article on Patience, I mentioned how the Lord healed a member of our witnessing team from TB; this sister accompanied us in all our witnessing trips. She coughed profusely while witnessing. Many times we thought she could have stayed at home, but she refused and obeyed the Lord. He healed her and blessed her for her obedience.

The Lord also does provide resting time before going into another area. Also, there was a sister who complained to me about the timing of our witnessing, so the Lord heard that and expelled her from our witnessing team. She repented a few weeks thereafter and asked us to plead with the Lord for her to be re-admitted to the witnessing team. This was an indication that the Lord does not beg any believer; He commands and expects obedience! We have all received individual messages from the Lord about witnessing. Some were told to witness to their colleagues, friends, neighbours and family members. There were others who were rebuked for not witnessing and the Lord regarded them as unfaithful and disobedient (Matthew 25:15-30). There were some cases of sinful behaviour and the Lord regarded that as wicked, so He expelled some of us. Last week the Lord showed us in a VISION a list with people’s witnessing statistics. He revealed the dates of witnessing, the time of witnessing and who was witnessed to. You will be amazingly shocked when the Lord will Judge us.

Finally, are you willing to OBEY and set out witnessing? Remember, our work of witnessing is not from an unknown message, but the foundation of the Christian message is Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:20). He is well-known across the globe; you only need to say what He did for you and what He will do for others. Be the voice of the Holy Spirit that carries God’s convictions!

Are you willing to obey and set out witnessing? Are you ashamed to share the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Are you willing to be faithful witness? Please start by praying this Prayer of Sincere Repentance.

For questions or comments on this article or our ministry, please contact us.

Blessed love and eternal peace,

Brother Glenn van Rooyen.