I’ve been working my way through Rico Tice’s new book, Honest Evangelism. It’s been both encouraging and convicting. Rico is a pastor at a church in London and one of his primary responsibilities is evangelism. Yet he would be the first to admit evangelism doesn’t come easy for him. It doesn’t come easy for me either.
He writes this, “I want to be honest: if you tell non-Christians about Jesus, it will be painful.” That’s why I find evangelism difficult. I want to remain comfortable. Tice recounts a convicting story:
“A couple of years ago I visited Delhi Bible Institute in India. The students at this new college are being trained to take the message of Christ Jesus to areas where people have never heard it before. These guys keep a bag, ready packed, by the back door. That’s so that if people come in the front to kill them, they can grab it and run. I was talking to one of the staff there about the possibility of suffering and she said: ‘Of course there’ll be suffering. What do you expect?’ And the first graduate of Delhi Bible Institute got martyred within six weeks. He graduated, went up into the villages, preached about Christ, and got murdered. It wasn’t unexpected, and he did it anyway."
What I find inspiring about this story isn’t only that the students at Delhi Bible Institute face far worse threats than I do in evangelism; but that they seem to run towards the discomfort. They lean into the pain of evangelism. It’s like they’re proactively seeking it. They cause me to think: “How can I run towards discomfort today for the sake of communicating the gospel to someone who doesn’t know Jesus?"
Of course, the ultimate example of someone running towards discomfort, leaning into, and proactively seeking pain for the sake of evangelism is Jesus Christ himself. He left heaven, a perfect paradise with not the slightest bit of discomfort, came to earth and experienced this sin ravaged world. He then took my sin and its torturous consequences upon himself so that I could get what only he deserved: eternal life in the joyful presence of God. Therein lies our motivation to move towards discomfort for the cause of Christ. May God give us the courage to do so!