In Pursuit of the Lost, Even When They Push You Away
Do you ever wonder if you are being too pushy in evangelism? Are you fearful that it will backfire and someone will get angry? That could happen. Or it could be that pursuing a lost person starts a new church.
A disciple-maker in India recently told me this story.
From the Hills to the Plains
*Shankar is a pioneer and a Disciple-Making Movement (DMM) leader. For many years, he provided leadership to a growing DMM in the Himalayas. Together with his team, he raised up elders there to carry the work forward. As the movement grew strong and indigenous, he sensed God calling him to go to a new unreached place. It was a crowded industrial city in the hot and sticky plains, a place where there were not many Jesus followers.
When Shankar and his family moved there, it was difficult to adjust. They missed the hill area that had been their home. Their expenses had doubled and their finances were severely stretched. That wasn’t the only hardship though. The change from being part of a growing movement to being the only believers there was difficult. They often felt isolated and alone.
Regular Intercession Believing the Harvest Is Ripe
Knowing that prayer is important in pioneering, Shankar and his wife set aside much time to fast. They interceded often and did prayer walks in their new city. They invited other YWAM friends to come and pray with them too. “The harvest is ripe here,” they declared in faith.
But the harvest didn’t feel very ripe. Day after day this faithful pioneer went out to make contact with people. He regularly shared his testimony. He knew that the best way to find a person of peace was to share the gospel. One day, someone would respond.
After a year and a half, it wasn’t easy to fight off discouragement. Though he had shared his testimony with hundreds of people, no one had decided to follow Christ.
Listening to the Holy Spirit’s Promptings
One day, Shankar was doing yet another prayer walk. He went to the market area of his town. There he saw a woman with her daughter. He sensed the Holy Spirit prompting him to talk with these two.
Approaching her, he tried to strike up a conversation. The woman avoided him and walked away. Still feeling that God wanted him to speak to her, he followed her down the street. He tried again. It felt a bit awkward for a man in his culture. He didn’t often talk to women on the street, especially if they didn’t want to talk to him! But the sense in his heart that God was leading him wouldn’t go away.
This time the woman asked him what he wanted. “I feel like God wants me to share something with you,” he said. As they talked a bit further, he found out her daughter was very sick. “I can pray for your daughter,” Shankar said. “God is able to heal her. Would that be alright?” he politely inquired.
A Refusal Makes It Difficult
She refused. This was quite unusual! Most people in his culture welcome prayer.
When he asked her why she was hesitant she said, “I already prayed to many gods. They didn’t do anything to help me. I don’t want to ask a god for help now.”
Shankar kindly explained that he was a follower of Jesus. He told her Jesus loved her. “He is a God who can heal your daughter,” he boldly stated. Still, she refused.
“No, I went to a church once and they told me I need to stop drinking alcohol and change many things in my life. I am not interested in the help of your God.”
Not knowing what to do, Shankar listened to the Holy Spirit once more. Again, there was a strong sense that he was to pray for the girl.
“You may not want me to pray, but I am going to pray for your daughter anyway,” he said. “I believe Jesus wants to heal her.” So, even without her permission, he prayed a brief prayer for the girl then politely left.
Glowing With Joy
Several weeks later, he went again to the same market. He saw the woman and her daughter. “She is completely healed!” said the grateful lady, her face glowing with joy. “Please come to my house. I want to know more about Jesus.”
The persistence of this faithful church planter paid off. The lady received the Lord that day and a new fellowship started in her home. Shankar is discipling her. Through her, he is reaching out to her mother, friends, and relatives. He has found his person of peace.
Listening and Obeying
It isn’t easy to be that persistent. Shankar’s example of faithfulness is inspiring. How often do we sense the Holy Spirit prompting us to do something, but fail to take action? Are we even prayerfully listening?
The harvest is ripe around us. People are waiting to hear about Jesus. He is the answer to their deepest longings and needs. They may not know it yet. Disappointments and hardship may have caused them to give up hope that God is good or cares for them.
Shankar went the extra mile and took a risk of faith. He was willing to pursue someone who was lost. Now they are found.
Are you listening to the Holy Spirit? Carefully listening with a heart that is willing to obey, when He prompts you to talk to someone? Even if they don’t seem open at first?