Blessing as Evangelism
Often I’m asked the question what do you do? As if my answer in some way validates me as a person – the answer for me like most people is complex, because what I do doesn’t determine who I am. Ultimately my answer is I’m a child of God, with all the resultant privileges and responsibilities. It doesn’t get better than that! The knowledge of God’s favour or blessing being on us because of our family connection with the King of kings is amazing.
And yet for many Christians, their faith, whilst precious to them, doesn’t often go beyond the ticket to heaven understanding. A hero of mine from my youth was an Irish evangelist called Sam Workman. He was someone who personally led hundreds of people to faith in Christ. His approach to evangelism (much like another hero of mine – Wilson Carlile) was to minster holistically to people on a one-to-one basis as well as to larger groups, and see the resultant fruit from those faith encounters (which was significant). Asked on one occasion about his motivation for evangelism he simply replied, “Transformed lives!”
Carlile knew this as well, often encouraging his evangelists to ‘go for the worst’! Why? Because he too had seen even the most desperate life turned around by Christ. Encouraged by this, he urged others to expect the same in their ministry. Wise words! Challenging words – go for the worst!
How did Carlile do it? By sharing his faith holistically, through his word and actions. By both being a blessing and speaking words of blessing.
Here in Drumcliffe Centre of Mission, we exercise, what I call ‘blessing evangelism’. We do this by speaking blessing over people, or being a blessing by our actions – serving in some way. One prayer of blessing I love is the Shema, the blessing that Moses commanded the Levites speak over the people of Israel. And because it is SO personal, it is the primary blessing we use to bless people. (You can read this blessing in Numbers 6:24-26.)
The personal nature of God blessing or increasing me and keeping or protecting me is incredible. And the fact that he would make his face to shine on me reminds me how as a child on holiday, I ran back and forth on the beach one night with a full moon above. No matter where I turned, the moon always was fully on and before me. I especially like the idea of God turning his face toward me and giving me peace or completeness in him; an eternal relationship of significance, security and acceptance. Powerful!
I’ve read and quoted that prayer many times and used it as a basis for blessing children and adults. But as I read again through the book of Numbers and once again read the Shema, my eye dropped to the next line, verse 27: “So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”
WHAT? The job of the Levites was to pray the prayer over the people of God – to speak blessing over them, and in so doing, they would “put my name” on them?! As I reflected on that, I pondered the serious blessing of “wearing” or displaying God’s name. It’s almost like putting on a name-tag with HIS name rather than my own.
As evangelists (indeed Christians!) we are part of the ‘Priesthood of all Believers’ and therefore can, I believe, exercise this same Levitical ministry evangelistically. I was so impressed with this that we now use it as part of ministry of evangelism. Few, if any, of the tens of thousands we come in contact with on an annual basis refuse this ministry, and with amazing results – people healed, lives transformed.
I have been challenged to own more fully who I am – a herald of the ultimate blessing, the Good News of the Gospel with the expectation that God can and will put HIS Name on all who exercise faith and receive.