With brilliant fall colors in display across the Minnesota Valley, Praise and Proclaim Ministries partnered with Mt. Olive Lutheran Church in Mankato, MN to go out into the community and proclaim the gospel. The Lord shined his face upon the weekend.
The planning for this outreach initiative began well over a year ago. It was initiated by the Minnesota Valley Kingdom Workers who sponsor a variety of gospel ministry projects every year to help advance God’s kingdom in southwestern Minnesota. They invited Praise and Proclaim Ministries to come and provide training for members to learn how to comfortably and confidently share a gospel message.
The days leading up to training were unseasonable warm, sunny, and windy. The beautiful gold, rust, and bright red colors of fall provided a spectacular backdrop for the weekend. Storms were in the forecast, but we were praying that the Lord would provide a window of opportunity for people to put their training into action.
For the two and a half hours of training on Friday evening, the congregation responded with a full room of members including students from nearby Bethany Lutheran Seminary.
On early Saturday morning, the expected storm arrived with lightning, thunder, and heavy rain. The Lord heard our prayer and provided an umbrella. The last of the storm clouds left the area and provided an opportunity for members to go out to plant the seeds of the gospel.
The Lord commissions believers to be faithful farmers. Just like seasoned farmers in Minnesota, when they plant seeds in the spring, they have confidence that there will be a harvest in the fall. The Lord of the harvest promises that every word of the gospel will never return to him empty. Their primary motivation is to bring as many people as possible to heaven even though they may never see the results from the gospel seeds they plant.
Praise and Proclaim Ministries is grateful for the forty-one people who arrived on Saturday to proclaim the gospel. The Lord opened doors and they boldly proclaimed the gospel 261 times to people they met!
Here are some of their stories:
One of the participants is a doctor in the area who came across a Hindu gentleman who works in the information technology department at the medical center. The gospel was proclaimed and he expressed interest despite the fact that his wife was a very devoted follower of the Hindu religion. When it was suggested that he could download a Bible app on his phone, the man expressed appreciation.
The pastor at Mt. Olive brought his whole family to the door. His young son was enthusiastic about handing half-page invites to people after his daddy proclaimed the gospel. At one house, the boy dropped most of his invites on the wet cement. The woman at the door graciously helped pick up the invites and gave them back to the boy. And he promptly dropped all of them into the puddle again. The pastor apologized and handed over the wet invite to the smiling woman. I don’t think she will forget this memorable visit.
One woman initially expressed herself as an ardent atheist. After a further discussion at the door, she softened when the member at Mt. Olive asked if he could come back and rake her front yard. Grateful for the request, her receptivity changed when the message of the gospel was provided for her. Acts of loving service coupled with a proclamation of the gospel can be powerful. Touched by the generous act, hearts and ears become open to hearing what Christ has already done for us.
Another team knocked on the door and nobody answered. They left a half-page invite in the door and moved on to the rest of the homes in the neighborhood. When they circled back to knock on doors across the street, the owner of the house came running out to them. She was very interested to learn more and how her children could attend Sunday school.
When another team knocked on the door, an adult replied, “What are you selling.” A member from Mt. Olive answered, “We are not selling anything. We are giving away free gifts!” This was a beautiful response to provide a message that proclaims the gift of salvation that Jesus has earned for us on the cross.
Occasionally, Praise and Proclaim Ministries comes across a faithful Christian who both humbles and inspires us. A great example is Connie.
Connie came to Friday night training to know how to verbally share a gospel message with others. A year ago, she fell and broke her hip. At 75 years old, the process of recovery was long and difficult. On Saturday morning, she came to church eager and ready to go. During lunch, Connie reported that she was only able to knock on nine doors before coming back to church to rest.
The lay person in charge of meals and logistics during the weekend, agreed to accompany Connie during the morning, before leaving to pick up sandwiches for lunch. When Connie returned home to rest after lunch, the lay person pulled me aside to let me know the rest of the story.
Connie was very determined to finish the street that was assigned to her. Even though her heart was willing, her knees and hips were starting to give out. Climbing steps to the front door were especially difficult. At the final two doors, the exhaustion and pain were becoming too much. Filled with love for her Savior, the desire to proclaim the gospel, and sheer determination to finish her street, Connie crawled on her hands and knees to climb the steps and knock on a door.
Who am I, Lord, to complain?
Who am I, Lord, to come up with dozens of excuses to not go and proclaim the gospel?
I’m not sure if anybody saw Connie crawl up those steps, but God did. Along with the rest of God’s messengers who stepped out in faith to share their faith on Saturday, God must have been well pleased.
It is our prayer and intent with every outreach initiative to have a core group of trained members who are ready, willing and equipped to continue to proclaim the gospel in their community. They are more comfortable and confident to begin conversations with their friends and neighbors. They have conquered the fears of evangelism. They are more willing and available to assist the pastor and the new outreach coordinator with follow-up visits. May the Lord bless mighty warriors in Christ who will continue to put their training into action in the months ahead.