By Dennis Rainey
The year was 1940. The French army had just collapsed under the siege of Hitler’s onslaught. The Dutch had folded, overwhelmed by the German forces. The Belgians had surrendered. And the British army was trapped on the coast of France in the port of Dunkirk.
Two-hundred and twenty thousand of Britain’s finest young men seemed doomed to die, turning the English Channel red with their blood. The Fuhrer’s troops, only miles away in the hills of France, didn’t realize how close to victory they actually were.
Any rescue seemed feeble and futile in the time remaining. British admirals—the “professionals”—said that the thin British navy could save 17,000 troops at best. The House of Commons was warned to prepare for “hard and heavy tidings.”
Politicians were paralyzed. And the allies could only watch, as spectators from a distance. Then, as the doom of the British army seemed imminent, a strange fleet appeared on the horizon of the English Channel: the wildest assortment of boats perhaps ever assembled in history.
Trawlers, tugs, scows, fishing sloops, lifeboats, pleasure craft, smacks and coasters, sailboats, an island ferry by the name of Gracie Fields, and the London fire brigade fire flotilla. Each ship was manned by civilian volunteers—English fathers sailing to rescue Britain’s exhausted, bleeding sons.
William Manchester writes in his epic novel, The Last Lion, that even today what happened in 1940 in less than 24 hours seems like a miracle. Not only were all the British soldiers rescued but numerous allied troops as well. Over 338,000 troops were rescued that day.
A lesson for believers
The parallel today is striking. For too long the paid professionals (ministers, missionaries, and full-time Christian workers) have unknowingly robbed laymen of the great privilege of leading others to Christ. But today, like the leaders of Britain, pastors and Christian leaders need civilian volunteers to sign up for a rescue effort of even greater magnitude.
For too long Christian families have compromised their message. When an opportunity arises to talk with someone about tell a non-believer about the Good News of salvation in Christ, we squirm uncomfortably and mumble something about church (not Christ). We often go to great lengths to avoid asking another person about his eternal destiny and his relationship with Jesus Christ.
I’m amazed by how concerned I am with what a friend, neighbor, or associate may think of me if I talk with them about Christ. Why are we so preoccupied with possible rejection when a person’s soul may be, humanly speaking, hanging in the balance? Perhaps our focus is on the wrong thing.
Talking to others about Christ
On a flight to the West Coast I talked to a man who had life wired in 220 volts. He was all together, and he looked the part!
Though I was tempted to say nothing “spiritual” after spending an hour getting to know the young man, I finally asked him about his religious beliefs. The fact that he sinned didn’t bother him. The fact God would hold him accountable didn’t bother him. And the fact that hell exists didn’t trouble him, either. But it certainly bothered me.
Before we landed I had the opportunity to sensitively tell him about Jesus Christ and His plan for salvation. He said he wasn’t interested. But I had been faithful—my mission in that man’s life for that particular day was accomplished. As Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade for Christ (now called Cru), once said, “Successful witnessing is simply sharing Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
Yes, I struggle with opening up a conversation about spiritual things. However, I’ve found a few factors compel me to ask others about their spiritual condition.
1. I am compelled by the realization that without Christ all humans are lost and without hope. Sure, humans do good things, but that doesn’t change the fact that we are all naturally selfish and sinful. I never taught any of our six children how to steal a cookie, yet they all did it—it comes from their nature.
2. I’m compelled to share Christ with others by the reminder of the reality of hell. Hell is not in vogue today. You’ll never see an Oscar-winning movie on hell, nor hear a popular song describing what is reserved for those who are outside a personal faith in Jesus Christ. And it isn’t spoken of much from our pulpits, either.
But the place of eternal judgment and torment is more real than the room you are in right now. People who do not know Christ will spend their eternity there. I may not like the fact that hell exists, and I may even try to ignore it. But that doesn’t change the truth that hell does exist and people who die without Christ will go there.
3. I want to share the Good News because it is the very reason for which Christ came to the planet earth. Christ came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Since He is the Master and we are His bond-slaves, shouldn’t I be about the Master’s business daily? And since Jesus Christ lives inside of me, shouldn’t He continue His work of seeking and saving the lost in and through my life?
Jesus didn’t go to the cross just so we could have happy homes and enjoy spending most of our time with other believers in a holy huddle. He didn’t die and bear the sins of the world just so that your sex life would be satisfying. And He didn’t suffer the severance of His relationship with the Father and enter into death’s clutches so that we could eat, drink, and be merry and fulfill the American dream.
He came to seek and to save those who were lost.
We are part of the solution
Look around you. Is your neighborhood morally stronger than it was 10 years ago? What have you done to make a difference? The army of God needs fresh troops. The enemy is real. The message is more powerful. The hour couldn’t be more urgent. And your family is an important part of the solution.
What can you do? Here are a few ideas. Don’t let this list overwhelm you. The important thing is to start somewhere … with something. Individuals can’t do everything, but you can do something; and together, we will make a difference.
How about an evangelistic dinner party at your home for a few couples that you know?
Show your children how to share their faith. There are some great resources for children that they could give away to their friends. Invite a neighborhood child to go to church with you.
How about you and a friend hosting an “evangelistic coffee” a couple of weeks before Christmas for your neighborhood or friends?
And finally, how about promising yourself to try to share Christ with the next person you sit next to on a plane, bus, or train?
And by the way, in case you think you may have all the time you need, I had always planned to
share my faith with my next-door neighbor. One day at work I got a call and was told he had been killed instantly in a freak gun accident. Christians must have a sense of urgency about our message—it is later than we think.
Why not make your growing Christian home the springboard for sharing the greatest news the world has ever heard? Someone has said, “It is better to fail in a cause that will ultimately succeed than to succeed in a cause that will ultimately fail.”
Daniel 11:32 tells us, “The people who know their God will display strength and take action.”
May your home be more than a house.
Copyright © by FamilyLife. Used with permission.
If you’re looking for help in learning how to tell others about your faith, Cru.org offers a special page of links to helpful resources and information.
This is too good to keep to yourself! Share with a friend or family member using the links below!