Evangelism: Whose job is it?
Guest Blogger: Merritt Onsa
Nearly a decade ago I traveled to Burundi, Africa with a group of my peers and leaders from our church.The purpose of the trip was for our team to provide encouragement, teaching, and Christian evangelism to the people of Burundi, a country that had suffered and was still recovering from a horrible genocide that occurred in the 1990s.
At the time, I had been a Christian for a little more than six years. I was growing in my faith in Jesus and had participated in an evangelism training class where I learned how to share my faith with others. I was nervous—and a little insecure about my ability to correctly share the four spiritual laws—but excited to travel and spend time with the people of Burundi and to practice everything I’d learned in that class.
For weeks before our departure I prayed to God, asking Him to help me prepare my heart, mind and body to be immersed in another culture. I studied the scriptures on evangelism and memorized Bible stories that would help me share my faith and open up conversations about God and Jesus.
But all the practicing was nothing like being face-to-face with the people with whom I would share the gospel. As it turns out, most of them were children of all ages. They came to our worksite every day. Our team played sports games with them, told stories from the bible and shared the gospel.
Different from being at home in the U.S., none of the children I met in Burundi spoke English; thankfully we had translators to assist us. On one particular day, about halfway through our trip, I got up the courage to sit down with a group of children, and I began to ask them questions about God. As I spoke, the group grew to nearly a hundred people. I wasn’t eloquent or perfect (in fact, I’m sure I was shaking at that moment), but I just did the best I could.
I shared that we are all sinners, every one, and that Jesus came to earth to live a perfect life and He died on a cross to pay the price for our sin. Thankfully, that’s not the end of the story. God raised Him from the dead and when you believe in Him for the forgiveness of your sins, He saves you and promises you will live with Him for eternity.
Every child was different in their reaction; some were boisterous, others were curious, some were too young to understand. There were a few adults there, too, in that large crowd around me. Due to the language barrier and the sheer numbers of people, I don’t ultimately know what was going on in any of their hearts. I don’t know if anyone was saved that day because of the words I shared, but through it all, I was reminded that His word does not return void “but will accomplish what [He desires] and achieve the purpose for which [He] sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). That experience was the perfect reminder that evangelism isn’t about me—it’s about God!
Even now, though I’m no longer in Africa, when I talk about Jesus to friends or strangers who don’t know Him, I am reminded that there is power in His word and in the gospel—it is the power of salvation. That power does not rest in me but in God. I don’t save people; He does. My job is to share God’s word, His truth, His powerful scriptures. But He is the Savior—not me.
I’m so grateful for the reminder that my responsibility is to be faithful and accurate with His word and to present the gift of salvation just like someone boldly did for me. In the end, He is the one who saves.