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Back in the early 1970s I was a young man just beginning to learn about evangelism. I got all excited about doing personal work. I began setting up Bible classes with the lost folks in town. In one week in that small town, we baptized seven souls into Christ. Being so excited, one Wednesday afternoon, I decided to visit Charlie.
Charlie was a rough, tough railroad engineer. He had been married to one of our Christian ladies for over 40 years, but was not a Christian. He never came to worship and he lived like a pure pagan. He loved to curse, drink and fight, but he and his Christian wife had come to an unspoken agreement over the years; he wouldn’t bother Robin (his wife) or get in her way. She would say nothing to him about Christ.
When I knocked on the door of this couple’s home, Robin welcomed me with a wide grin, expecting a “preacher’s call” on a church member. But her smile began to fade when I asked, “Where is Charlie?”
“Uh, he’s out in his shop out back,” she stammered, “but why do you want him?”
“Because I want to set up a study with him.”
Her face lost all its color. “Oh, no, David! You can’t do that” she howled. “You will make him mad and run him off from the church.”
“Robin, I won’t make him mad. But even if I did, he can’t get any ‘loster’ than he is right now.”
I thought the lady was going to cry. She wrung her hands and kept saying “Oh My! Oh My!” Robin hurriedly went out the front door to go grocery shopping while I made my way to the back with my heart in my throat.
To shorten a long story, I approached Charlie, asked for a study and stood there waiting for him to reject me. Instead, he thought only a moment, then nodded, “OK David, I think I would enjoy a study..” Shocked, I studied with a man hungry for the Word most all that afternoon. That night, Charlie came to Wednesday night services, walked the aisle and asked to be baptized (with a weeping wife clinging to his arm).
Charlie died just a few weeks later from a heart attack he didn’t expect. Robin, my wife and I all held each other and rejoiced that Charlie had been redeemed from the clutches of Satan, just before God called him home.
Brethren, we are in a war for the souls of men, and most of us Christians don’t even know it. Like Robin, we live with, or work next too, and even worship with a lost soul for years without anyone ever saying anything to help save him. Satan wants to drag those souls to hell (Revelation 12:12), God wants them saved (2 Peter 3:9) and brought into the fold of safety, yet 75% of us don’t even know the war is raging. As someone once said, “The situation is desperate, but the Christians aren’t.”
Herb Miller, in his book Fishing on the Asphalt, shares that the average church member has listened to 6,000 sermons, heard 8,000 prayers, sung 20,000 hymns over and over, and won no one to Christ.
Where, brethren, is the urgency? Where is the ache to help that lost friend find the truth? We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus. (I Peter 1:18,19). Now your loved one is dying of the very disease you have been cured of. So how can you be content to fluff his pillow and straighten the sheets on his hospital bed as he dies, without mentioning the cure that saved you?
But the story of Charlie should not say that I am a glittering example of personal evangelism. I have missed lost souls. People have taught and baptized friends that I didn’t even approach. If you can stand another personal example, let me take you back.
I was a student at Oklahoma Christian, working at night at Western Electric. Most all the guys I worked with knew my background and knew I was going to preach upon graduation. Many of them would pass by my work station and ask me religious questions. I learned more Bible giving Bible answers at that job than I did at college.
But one of the nightly visitors I dreaded to see was Jimmy. Here was a guy who just wanted to argue. Every night Jimmy would come armed with a silly question, “Is it true that you people in the church of Christ believe…” and he would prick me with something about baptism, instrumental music, the church – always something. In anger, I would slap him with a scripture. He would turn red, give a loud “Harumph!” and leave. But he would be back the next night.
After a worship service one Sunday, I was speaking with a Christian friend who was a great lover and seeker of souls. In passing, I told him about Jimmy and his pestering questions. My friend looked quizzically at me.
“You just don’t catch it, do you David?” he asked.
“Catch what?” I stammered.
My friend answered, “Jimmy is crying out for help.” Then he continued, “The next time Jimmy comes by and asks one of those dumb questions, just ask him, ‘Jimmy, do you want to argue or would you like to study the Bible with me?’ ”
I went over the retort all day Monday, and I was ready for Jimmy that night. Sure enough, Jimmy came, and sure enough, he had some asinine question. But then I did it. I turned to Jimmy and said, “Jimmy, do you want to argue, or would you like to study the Bible with me?” Jimmy’s eyes grew bright, he smiled and answered, “I’d like to study with you.”
Brethren, lost souls are all around us. They are calling for our help but don’t know how to ask. We must learn to recognize the signs. Pray about your friend and stammer into some invitation to a Bible study. Anything is better than nothing. You will be shocked at how many will smile and say “OK, let’s study.”
I beg you to be like Jesus; look at people as souls – a white harvest ready for the sickle. (John 4:35-38) As someone said, “Silence is not always golden; sometimes it is just a pale shade of yellow.” Throw the seed and harvest those who respond. Don’t spend your time analyzing the soil.
The late noted writer Vance Havner used to tell a story. He said that when the Titanic sailed in 1912, it carried millionaires, celebrities, people of moderate means and even poor people who stayed down inside the ship. The Cunard lines (owners of the White Star fleet) had an office in New York City. On the wall they had a “Titanic list” posted. There they had the names of the “First Class passengers, Second Class, Third Class and Steerage.” But the day after that ship went down, it was said another list was posted on that board. That list carried only two categories – “Lost”and “Saved.”
On that “great getting’ up mornin’” when the millions stand before God for final judgment, there will be only two kinds of people: “Lost” and “Saved.” Look around you. Look through the hype and the show, the hatred and the hypocrisy. See folks as souls and seek to redeem them. Don’t be afraid; “they can’t get any loster.”
-David Lusk Union Valley, Texas

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