What is "Successful Evangelism?"

How to reach others in the power of the Holy Spirit

By Elizabeth Welsh   |  11 July 2011
image-3-generations-of-asian-women-465x280 Successful evangelism requires taking the initiative to talk about Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.

Dry mouth, racing heart and tied tongue. Does evangelism make you feel that way? I’ve discovered that it doesn’t have to be complicated, intimidating or threatening.

My husband, Jay, and I spent 36 years working with Campus Crusade for Christ. When we lived in New York City, we worked with Christian Embassy-United Nations, a ministry to diplomats from around the world.

Although they were from various backgrounds and religions, the wives of the diplomats enjoyed coming to our conversational English classes, Bible studies and social events. In one of our Bible classes, I met the lovely wife of an ambassador from Cambodia. For security purposes, I’ll call her Mealea.

After a few months in the study, Mealea told me she was beginning to understand more about the Bible. I had noticed that she’d recently made some very interesting comments such as, “Buddha didn’t claim to be God,” or “Buddha never rose from the dead.”

Convinced it was time for us to talk personally, I invited Mealea to come to our apartment for tea. I wanted to explain how she could have a personal relationship with Christ, so my idea was to have time alone with her. However, God had a different plan.

A couple of days before our meeting, Mealea called and asked if she could bring her daughter who was on spring break from school, along with her sister, who was visiting from Cambodia.

“Sure, bring them both. We’ll enjoy a nice visit,” I said.

When I hung up the phone, my first reaction was disappointment, then panic. I argued with God. “Lord, there is no way I can talk about You to 3 people at once, especially when we don’t even speak the same language.”

After stewing for a while, I decided not to use the time to extend an invitation for Mealea to become a Christian. Instead, we would have tea together and get to know one another.

On the day of our visit, the doorman buzzed our apartment to tell me the ladies were on their way up. Despite my previous conclusion, I wanted to be open to a possible witnessing opportunity.

I stood trembling behind my closed door and prayed, “Lord, I don’t know how to do this. If you really want me to introduce these ladies to Jesus today, please make it supernaturally natural.”

When my guests arrived, true to the gracious practice of many international women, they came bearing gifts of candy and flowers. After placing the flowers in a vase and sharing the candy and tea, we discussed everything from families to their impressions of New York and America.

Eventually, Mealea brought up the subject of our Bible study. Since I wanted to include Mealea’s daughter and sister in the conversation, I asked if they were interested in learning more about Christianity. The daughter, who understood English, nodded in agreement.

When Mealea interpreted my question to her sister, she explained in broken English that she had gone to parochial school for a short time.

“I know some about Christianity,” she said, “but I would like to know more.”

I handed each of the 3 ladies an evangelistic booklet and asked if they would like to take turns reading it out loud. One thing I had learned about international women is that they love to practice their English. They enthusiastically agreed to read with me.

After each one read a page, we stopped and talked about the English, as well as the spiritual meaning of the words. Encouraged by their common interest, when we finished reading, I turned to each one separately and asked if she would like to have a personal relationship with Christ.

To my surprise and delight, they all smiled and answered yes. These 3 Buddhist women of varying ages bowed their heads, and together followed me in a prayer to invite Jesus into their hearts.

The Bible confirms there was, at that moment, a celebration of joy among the angels in heaven. There was also a bona fide celebration going on right there in my living room in midtown Manhattan.

When I informed my Cambodian friends we were now sisters in Christ, the 4 of us hugged, laughed and then cried together. When the ladies left that day, they each knew first-hand the risen Lord as their personal Savior.

There is no greater joy than leading someone to Christ. Over the years, I’ve learned time and again that people are hungry to know God. The following tips have helped me; perhaps they’ll be a pleasant reminder to you, as well.

1) Trust God’s power to work, not yourself. Regardless of how many times I’ve done it before, successful evangelism requires that I take the initiative to talk about Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit. He changes lives; I don’t. Whatever the person says or decides about Jesus, I can leave the results to God.

2) Build rapport. It is true that a person will probably not care what I know unless they know first that I care.

3) Expect results. Be positive, because enthusiasm is contagious. The person may very well catch what you have or, at least, want it.

4) Pray for God to make your evangelism experience supernaturally natural. When I do this, the pressure is off, and the fun begins.