Meet Gordon Banks
If you ask most of our Commissioned Evangelists who are older than working age, “what is it like to be retired?” you’ll often get the same answer – evangelists never really retire. For many, the word retired is an age-based technicality. The reality is that they are evangelists through and through, and they continue to follow God’s calling to tell people about Jesus through every stage of life.
In this article, we are talking to Gordon Banks, whose ministry focus has been on rural evangelism.
Evangelism in Rural England
Rural evangelism can be a challenge. On the face of it, it sounds idyllic: it conjures images of the countryside, the rolling hills and so on. A lot of people have the idea that it’s a perfect location, but, in reality, it brings along some real struggles.
There is rural isolation and rural poverty. On average, one farmer per week will take their own life. Living remotely can make accessing help difficult, too. Many people who need services like Food Banks, or even a doctor, end up going without help because they don’t have transport.
Another challenge is the church. There is a truism that in urban areas people belong to the church, but in the countryside, the church belongs to the people. In rural areas, the lines between faith and community are often blurred, so for an evangelist in that area, it is quite challenging to reach out to people and to encourage the church to be outreach focused.
Lessons Learned through a lifetime of evangelism
In my ministry, I strive to be like Barnabas (Acts 4:36) – an encourager for others to think more deeply about the faith.
When working at county shows with refreshment tents, I encourage those in our presence to back away from direct evangelism. Rather than preaching or forcing beliefs upon others, we provide them with love and hospitality so that they feel welcomed and cared for. This small seed of love can open many hearts to receive the Lord’s message later. Just being in the church tent can, for many people, be a powerful tool. Often, our co-volunteers are met with questions from passers-by about their faith and how they became Christian. Watching God use these most unlikely evangelists has been a strengthening experience for me.
My passion for evangelism never ceases. Each time I read Scripture, there are new depths revealed to me that compel me to keep sharing what I have learnt with others. Supporting people in any way possible brings me great joy – seeing them become closer to God is one of the greatest gifts one can receive!
- Pray for retired Evangelists as they step out of ‘defined ministry’, that they will be led into new areas of ministry and service with a gospel heart.
- Pray that as Evangelists journey through the autumn and winter seasons of their lives they may always have spring in their souls.
- Pray that retired Evangelists will always be seeking to learn and discover more, going deeper into God’s love and being transformed into the very full measure and stature of Christ.
- Pray for retired Evangelists as they reflect on their ministry and on any hurts and dark valleys they may have travelled through and they may find healing, oracle and comfort and an ability to let go.