Praise and Proclaim Ministries received the privilege of launching an outreach initiative with Peace Lutheran Church in Liberty Hill, TX on April 7-8, 2017. This new mission start is reaching out to the growing community north of Austin. This included twelve members and the pastor from Trinity Lutheran Church in Crete, IL who came to help members at Peace plant seeds of the gospel. The Lord blessed their efforts.
Peace Lutheran Church is a new mission start currently worshiping in a store-front location next to a popular BBQ restaurant (Smokey Mo’s) in Liberty Hill, TX. The area is exploding with new growth and includes the communities of Leander and Georgetown. The church has positioned themselves for a wonderful opportunity to bring the gospel to families who are moving into the area.
This outreach initiative had a unique and special flavor. The pastor at Peace Lutheran (Rev. Stephen Apt) is originally from Crete, IL and grew up attending Trinity Lutheran Church. Twelve members from Trinity flew in from Crete to participate in the weekend’s outreach activities along with one of the pastors, Rev. Frank Italiano.
On Friday evening, the “Crete Crew” joined members from Peace Lutheran Church to learn a methodology to proclaim the gospel. This included utilizing a brand new postcard that provided a gospel message on how to find “Peace” in Christ.
When visiting people at the door, the participants learned how to use outreach materials to engage people and proclaim a short gospel message. A half-page invitation was given by participants to people in the community or was left for them at the door. The design attempted to connect with women dealing with the stresses of life, but the message resonates with all people. The participants learned that they could say, “Our church teaches that we can receive true peace from the confidence and assurance of knowing that our sins are fully forgiven right now because of what Jesus Christ has already done for us.” Members could also point to the Peace Lutheran Church name and logo that includes an image of three crosses in the background.
A major component of the training is to provide an opportunity for people to put their training into practice by practicing on strangers and conquering normal fears that most Christians have about evangelism. It was evident during the training session on Friday evening that several people were quite nervous. One lady in particular looked particularly ill about going out the next day to proclaim the gospel. During a break, I told her, “Trust me, it’s going to be okay.”
When people step out in faith to share their faith with others, they quickly learn that evangelism has little to do about them and everything to do about God. This means trusting God’s promises associated with outreach. One of the greatest joys Christians receive is to realize his promises after actually proclaiming the gospel.
The following morning, a total of nineteen people faithfully arrived to go out and proclaim the gospel in a community across the highway from Peace Lutheran Church. And the Lord delivered on his promises. He calmed hearts and opened doors for us.
Here are some of the people the Lord allowed us to meet at the door:
When two participants knocked on the door, the man wasn’t particularly interested until he saw a copy of the postcard. “I remember seeing this,” the man replied, “and it got me thinking.” The Lord had already opened the heart and the mind of the man to receive a reason why believers receive peace through Christ.
During the first hour, we were grateful for the number of opportunities the Lord was providing. One couple was having a rough start. After taking their picture and offering words of encouragement, the lady prayed, “Lord, please open the door for us at this next house.” And the Lord answered her prayer. A man opened to the door and was grateful to receive a gospel message that resonated with him. He was a former LDS member and was searching for answers to satisfy his spiritual longing and the problems that were facing his family.
One lady came across a nice gentleman who was grateful for her visit. He was a veteran from the Persian Gulf war and struggled with PTSD. After a long visit, the man told her that he was planning on coming to church on Sunday. We prayed that he would join us for worship.
One young family from Peace Lutheran brought their two young children with them. They came to one house and a little black puppy came bounding down the stairs and started licking their little son’s face. The father followed and after offering apologies, he readily received the invitation to come to Peace Lutheran and hear a gospel message.
Another family shared with the participants that they had recently lost a baby. Grieving and looking for comfort and answers, they gratefully received the information from our participants and accepted our prayers.
After sharing the gospel, one man listened politely and then freely confessed to them, “My church on Sunday is sports.” He accepted the half-page invite and smiled before closing the door. His mind had already been made up — he was fully planning on staying home on Sundays. We pray for all those who reject Christ or even wanting to hear the gospel.
One young man with long hair and a variety of tattoos, listened intently to a team while they shared the gospel of what Christ has already for us. When hearing that faith alone receives the fully forgiveness of our sins right now, he replied, “That’s cool!”
One participant saw a Texas A&M flag fluttering in the wind and told a guy who was in the garage, “Go Aggies!” This immediately brought a big smile on his face. After a brief exchange about their mutual love of college football and the prospects for Texas A&M next season, he shared a short gospel message about how our victory is absolutely assured because of what Christ has already done for us! It is even better than celebrating a Texas A&M victory over Alabama!
One guy was playing basketball in the front yard with his nine-year-old son. When asked if he had seen our postcard in the mail, the guy told him that he had not seen it. When the nine-year-old saw the postcard, he cried out exuberantly, “Hey! We did see that in the mail.” You could tell that the father was not particularly pleased with that admission, but still politely listened to a short gospel proclamation.
Regarding the lady who looked ill at Friday night’s training at the prospect of proclaiming her faith the next day….. She started out in the morning with her husband, but he did most of the talking. In the afternoon, her husband was unable to continue and she went ahead to finish the door-to-door proclaiming map by herself. When it was time to come back to church, she was thrilled to report that the Lord provided her with opportunities to proclaim the gospel to eleven people! She felt so blessed to have conquered her fears and planted the seeds of the gospel.
And remember John, the veteran suffering from PTSD? The Lord provided wonderful fruit of encouragement for the entire team when he arrived at church the following morning. We pray that the Peace family and the teaching from the Bible that the pastor provides will be a blessing for him.
What a joy and privilege it is for Praise and Proclaim Ministries to come and partner with Peace Lutheran Church for this outreach initiative. We rejoice that the Lord opened the doors and provided opportunities for us to proclaim the gospel to 153 souls. We trust that the Lord will bless this weekend and the future activities to put their training into action.