I think we can all agree that one of the weaker points of Evangelical Christianity these days is that many of our non-clergy believers are simply not engaging in any sort of evangelism throughout the week. There are many reasons we can point to as to why this is, but one reason that seems most easily apparent is that a large number of believers have a difficulty with not only sharing the gospel, but even articulating what the gospel message even IS!
This is not meant as an attack on our church goers, but it is simply an observed situation when the subject is brought up in small group conversations. Like many subjects that we expect the average believer to have at least a nominal grasp of, when questions are asked to prompt discussion, sometimes we get that glassed-over I-have-no-idea-what-planet-I’m-on look.
And so, a month or so ago, Blacksmith Priory hosted a very compact crash-course conference in order to answer the question, “What is the Gospel and How can I Share it?” We had a modest turn out for that mid-week evening gathering, but among the attendees was a bright young man of 11 years old. Throughout the two or so hours of discussion and instruction, he asked some very good questions and overall was one of the most engaged of those present. I believe all who attended that evening gained a more solid understanding and confidence with how to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with people around them, but I had no idea what was going to be sparked that night.
That same 11 year old boy from the crash-course is a part of our Sunday Night Sparks youth group, and he shared with the others some of the things he learned during the conference. As I saw the riveted looks on the faces of his peers as he explained what he had learned, I had no idea what God was doing in the hearts of those who heard. A week went by before the NEXT Sparks gathering, and I could not believe what had transpired. As we talked about prayer requests before getting started with the lesson for the night, one of the 11 year old girls who had heard the report of the Gospel conference asked for prayer for a brand new believer that she had led to Christ that week… ON THE SCHOOLBUS! She had taken the relaying of the information about sharing the Gospel as a personal challenge and now she was excitedly reporting the power of God at work that she had personally experienced as she had been willing to open her mouth to speak the truth of Christ crucified and resurrected.
As that report concluded, the boy who had attended the conference shared his story of how he had shared the Gospel with a boy at school while waiting on the bus to pick them up. Both stories had the common thread that neither of them had been pushy, but simply shared the story of what had happened 2000 years ago, and what it means for us today, as well as what it means for them personally. As they bounced back and forth, comparing notes, they both decided that they needed to continue to share with the kids on their buses, as that seemed to provide a relaxed social environment for conversation. In the midst of this, the kids came to the conclusion they wished they had bibles to give out to those they talked to about Jesus.
Looking around the room as these stories unfolded, I saw some of the other kids starting to get excited about it as well, and they began chattering about where they thought they might be able to talk to someone about Jesus, and who they might talk to. Some of them were clarifying various points of the Gospel story to make sure they understood it by asking each other questions. I honestly have never seen such an enthusiasm for evangelism anywhere in the church before.
Before the night was over, several of the youth had concocted a plan to intentionally sit with someone different on the bus every day, with the deliberate plan to engage in spiritual conversation and to find out how they can pray for the kids they sit with, to invite them to the Sparks group, and to talk to them about Christ and pray with them if they can. This plan evolved with very little input or help from adults that night. They hatched the plan and took it as a mission completely on their own while I sat back and listened, simply amazed.
My wife and I stayed up quite a while that night after Sparks was over, and just praised God for these amazing children who are so clearly vessels of mercy, and for what God is doing through them. After praying about it, we decided that this was most definitely something we needed to continue to foster and support. And so it was agreed, that Blacksmith Priory’s School Bus Outreach was to be born out of this.
As a ministry, we have committed to empowering these kids who want to participate in the Great Commission to go and make disciples of all nations, by supplying them with miniature New Testaments to give to other children on the bus who they have shared the story of Jesus with. We will also be producing simple printed material that will help with presenting the Gospel and also will serve as an invitation into Sparks youth group, and into the Kingdom of God as a whole.
In the last month since this began, two new believers have been added to the Kingdom, and many more have heard the message of Grace, out of the mouth of babes, as it were.
Please pray for this incredible movement of God in such a young and vibrant body of believers, passionate to see the message of salvation for those who trust in and profess Jesus Christ as Lord, carried into their own personal mission field. May the Spirit of the Lord go with these young ones, as the Spark within them is kindled into a Flame that cannot be extinguished.