Reflections of a reluctant evangelist

by Dr. Maribeth V. Swanson

As a lifelong Salvationist, I’ve certainly been aware of the annual National Seminar on Evangelism (NSE) held at the Glen Eyrie Conference Center in Colorado Springs, Colo. Many people have encouraged me to attend it knowing I’d appreciate the excellent speakers, solid biblical teaching and warm fellowship—all just steps from picturesque Colorado landscapes.

NSE is all about training in evangelism. Real or fake news, I’d heard about “outreach day” on which delegates are dropped off at parks or go door-to-door sharing the gospel. Sure, I can easily sing “O tell the world” at the end of a Congress meeting, but please God, don’t ask me to parachute into a neighborhood with a backpack full of gospel tracts and a memorized, three-point spiel that I’ll surely mess up.

Nonetheless, I followed the advice of motivational writer Taylor Swift (“…fearless is having fears but jumping anyway”) and joined the Central Territory’s other 24 delegates and five staff members headed to NSE. There I discovered a curriculum that reframes evangelism from a method to three dimensional living. It’s about sharing the gospel by developing friendships, discovering others’ stories and discerning next steps supporting their journey toward Christ.

Delegates were assigned to small groups where Just Walk Across the Room principles were reviewed. As each person told their faith story, the beauty of Jesus was evident in each, and I grew more assured of God’s love and the Holy Spirit’s presence.

Every day started with an optional 6:00 a.m. ridge hike. We’d take in the splendor of the Rocky Mountains and welcome sunrise with a devotional and praise. Then after a hearty breakfast, hungry hearts and minds were filled with biblical truths from Dr. Bill and Diane Ury, national ambassadors for holiness.

As the week progressed, we prepared for the outreach day. Before embarking on our assignments, a united consecration service was held to pray for the teams and people we’d encounter. Referencing Psalm 24:2-4, our hands were washed by our team leader, who recited as he washed my hands, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7, NKJV)

It melted away any remaining fears I had and reminded me our sole purpose was to bring glory to God. We spent the afternoon talking with people at a busy outdoor shopping district; a few even stopped to request prayer. Gratitude fills my heart for what I learned from NSE leaders and delegates who, just like me, really do want to tell others about Jesus.

The next NSE will be held August 3-10, 2019. For more information see your corps officer.







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