The most important day in my life was in April 1949 when I accepted the gift of eternal life during a revival service at the First Baptist Church in Madisonville, Tennessee. It filled a void in my life that I had felt each day even though I had always been in church.
Many changes have taken place in all the years since I accepted this gift, but I have never lost the peace and assurance that comes from knowing I have a home in Heaven when I die. It is difficult for me to believe anyone would reject such a wonderful gift, but salvation is a choice every individual must make.
It was a wonderful day when at 30 years of age, I learned how to share the plan of salvation with others. Immediately I knew that was what had been missing in my Christian life. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Every day I ask God to allow people to cross my path with whom I can share the claims of Christ. The following thoughts have been helpful to me.
People are won because of the promises given in the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit—not because of the skill of the soul winner. Each morning I pray for power, wisdom, and love and that God will bring people across my path that need to be saved. I can be God’s instrument, but only Jesus saves.
Look people in the eyes and be genuinely interested in them. The ability to care about others more than ourselves is rare and comes from God. Romans 12:10 says, “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
Don’t be “pushy.”If I see someone backing away from the Gospel, I immediately say, “I am not trying to force this on you; I’m simply telling you what changed my life.” This always relieves tension. I never want to offend people, but I try to go as far as I can before that happens. I try to use my Bible to lead that person to Christ. If they don’t have that much time, I read a Gospel tract or give the Gospel while looking at them. If they won’t listen to that, I give them a tract. If they won’t take a tract (which is rare), I say “God bless you. Have a wonderful day.” If I offend someone, he will be hard to win to the Lord when approached by another soul winner. Proverbs 18:19 says, “A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.”
People are not rejecting me—they are rejecting Christ. People have a choice to accept or reject the gift of eternal life, and I tell them this. Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Never argue. If someone wants to tell me the Bible is not true or their religion is the only one, I never waste time discussing it. I say, “I believe the Bible is the literal Word of God and has a specific answer to every problem man faces today. Heaven and Hell are real, Jesus is God’s Son who died for our sins, and the gift of eternal life is available to anyone who will receive it.”If they want to argue, I say, “God bless you.” And I leave, handing them a tract if they will take it. God’s word does not return void, and if you spoke the truth in love, you don’t worry about someone’s first reaction. My goal is to leave them with a “good taste in their mouth” regarding the gift of eternal life.
Holy Spirit conviction causes a person who rejects the gift of eternal life to become angry or upset with you. It is hard to get mad at a God you can’t see, so convicted people get angry at God’s representative—us. A person who becomes angry is closer to salvation than someone who doesn’t seem to care. They are rejecting God, not me, so I never take it personally. Several years ago in West Virginia when traveling with the Songs of Praise, a tour group from Hyles- Anderson College, I was handing out tracts and witnessing to people in a Wal-Mart parking lot on a Sunday afternoon. A man walked up to me and said, “You have no right to be handing out material here.”(We did because the store manager had had the girls sing inside the store in front of the checkout lanes and had given us permission.) When I smiled and shared this with him, he grabbed the tract from my hand, tore it up with a flourish, and threw it in a trash can. I did not take this personally and felt only sorrow for a man who was bitter toward God.
Remember that sharing the gift of eternal life is not just a nice thing to do if and when we feel like it, but is a command from God. Each person will spend eternity in Heaven or the Lake of Fire called Hell. This motivates me as I approach people with the claims of Christ. Not long ago, I was talking to a man who said, “I don’t know if I believe what you are saying is true, but I can see that you do.”What a privilege we have to carry the “Good News” to those around us.