Coronavirus: Not An Excuse For Gospel Laziness

Coronavirus: Not An Excuse For Gospel Laziness

Evangelism is hard enough face-to-face.

But when even that avenue is taken away from us, what are we supposed to do?

You’ve probably at the point already where you’ve heard the phrase ‘unprecedented times’ so much in the last 2 months, that you’re ready to throttle someone if you hear it again! Never before in our generation has normal life been interrupted like it has the last couple of months. It’s unpreced…oops!

But there really is no other way to describe being deprived of our regular activities. This pandemic has limited our access to our favourite coffee or restaurant spots, the sports and recreation we enjoy, the shopping precincts we frequent, even the extended family get-togethers we crave for.

And it has also changed the way we need to approach evangelism. 

Our normal method of face-to-face contact – whether it be via one-to-one contact, or on soapbox on a public street – can’t be relied on at the moment. The virus doesn’t automatically avoid us because we are engaging in God’s work.

Does that mean evangelism stops? Does this mean that God give us justification to press pause on our evangelism efforts? I doubt it! If that was the case, then we would probably end up justifying every  event, large or small, as an excuse to not carry out His commission.

So what do we do? How do we get around this?

Well, you’re probably reading this via a smartphone, tablet, or computer. I’m guessing that’s how you get a lot, if not most, of your information these days. 
And maybe the lighbulb hasn’t gone off yet that this could be one avenue for you to reach out to people.

But where do I start?

On this blog is a page entitled ‘About You & About God‘. This page contains a simple Gospel message in its’ entirety – taking the reader through God’s law to bring about the knowledge of sin, repentance, and faith in Christ.

Straight away, if someone googles the phrase ‘what about God?’, then there is the possibility of them stumbling on the truth on that page. If I wanted to make it so that every time anyone googled that phrase that my page would come up first, I would have to pay Google a lot of money, but this is something I wouldn’t consider.

I also have a Twitter account. On there, I post mainly Christian-related material. I can also link to my blog Gospel page. Occasionally, I bomb my Twitter page with this link, with click-bait like:

“Are you good enough to go to heaven? Take the test and find out!”
“Your good works won’t get you to heaven. Find out what will!”
“The love of God saves us from the wrath of God”
“One sin is enough for God to justify throwing you in hell. Repentance and faith in Christ is enough to send you to heaven”

I did about 15 of these Twitter posts over an hour. Later I checked my blog stats, and I received over 200 hits from 13 different countries around the world to my page, from those Twitter posts alone. Now, even if it was the same person from each country that looked at the page, that’s still 13 people that could have read the Gospel for the first time! And it just took 30 seconds to write and link each Twitter post. Who said evangelism is hard?

You can do exactly the same with your other social media accounts – Facebook, Instagram etc.

You don’t need to create your own blog to do this. There are tens of thousands of churches and ministries that have Gospel presentations on their websites. Make sure you pick one that is doctrinally sound – that is, the Gospel presentation AND the organisation. You don’t want to pick a church or ministry that will lead people astray, or produce a false convert. Write your social media post, copy the website link, and voila, you are doing online evangelism!

There is a character count limit on a Twitter post. That is, you are limited in the size of your conversations. If you are clever enough, you could squish a Gospel presentation into the limited size.
Some other social media platforms allow you to practically write a book in one post. If so, go for it!

If you come across a post that someone else wrote that contains or links to the Gospel, you can also re-share this in your social media. There is no copyright on the Gospel, but just like when you cite other peoples’ work in a thesis or paper, it is polite to include references to the author. If the work itself is copyright, you may need to ask permission of the author before sharing. If it’s already on social media, then most won’t mind you re-sharing it anyway, but if you are uncertain you might need to check first.  

In short, do anything to get the Gospel out there! Don’t hold back. The world is at your fingertips!

Online Chat

Photo from operation513.com website

 

Operation 513 is a street evangelism ministry, with teams based mainly in Australia, but also in the UK and New Zealand. 
Our church fellowship use some of their Gospel tracts in our Gone Fishin’ evangelism ministry.

I enjoy reading their ‘Battle Logs‘, which are details of their witnessing encounters.

Recently, just like most of the world, they found that due to COVID-19 social distancing restrictions, they could not meet together, let alone have their usual on-on-one Gospel conversations. So they ventured online. 

Their Battle Logs spoke of doing live face-to-face video and text chatting with random strangers on a chat sites, mainly Omegle

Straight away my conscience started to ring alarm bells. Often sites like these are are used for hookups – ways for teens with an over-abundance of hormones to have sexual chats with each other. It is also known that pedophiles can hang out in chat rooms like these, waiting to snag unsuspecting, innocent minors.

Still, I was intrigued enough to investigate. I informed Jan, my wife what I was going to do. She had the same reservations as me, but I told her nothing was set in stone, and that I was just going to check it out with the team first.
So at the allotted time on a Sunday afternoon, I clicked on the link to their pre-chat prayer and fellowship. Immediately I was welcomed by a pleasant gentleman named Glen, who was based in Christchurch, NZ. I gave him a quick run-down of who I was, where I was from, and what I was doing there.

After prayer, myself and a gentleman from Canada were partnered with Glen so that he could show us the ins-and-outs of an online chat. He shared his screen with me, and went to Omegle. In Omegle you can choose whether to do just text, or text and video chats. Glen advised that he does a combination of both. Before he opens a video screen, he covers the video feed with another application. This is because people can pop up on the video feed naked, and/or doing…um…things you don’t want to see (yikes!).

When you click on ‘New Chat (Video or Audio)’, in a few seconds you are chatting with a complete stranger from anywhere in the world. This could be both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. 

Glen chats with a stranger on Omegle (photo from operation513.com website)

 

Before uncovering the video feed, Glen starts the chat with “Hey, I’ve got a quick question for you. What happens after someone dies?”. Often the person at the other end ends the chat expecting someone differently, the wrong age or gender for a hookup, or someone that doesn’t ask such probing questions.

But that’s OK, you just go for another chat.
Eventually, someone answers Glen’s question. It’s a guy. He says “I don’t know, man”.
Glen slowly uncovers the video feed to reveal a late teen hispanic man in a hazy room. He says he’s from California.
Glen takes him through the law. He’s not very coherent with his responses. He looked like he was vaping, but he later admits that he’s completely stoned out of his mind. Glen quickly types in a link to Operation513’s presentation of the Gospel (needgod.net) before the guy gets annoyed and leaves the chat. He says “what’s that link for?” Glen answers “try and remember this link. It will explain what we’ve talked about”. I couldn’t make out his response, but he ended the chat after that.

We did a couple more online chats after that, then we debriefed. 

They have their own way of doing their Gospel presentations. It’s a bit different to the way I do it, but that is neither here nor there. The main point is that they use the law to bring about repentance, and explain the Gospel clearly. Everything else is just style.

I thanked Glen and the team for their hospitality, and said I maybe would give it a go, and check back with how I went.

So, when I drummed up enough courage later in the day, I asked my wife Jan to watch me do a chat. I had already decided that I would only do them by text. Text only chatting has its’ good and bad points. It has the comfort of anonymity, but can be laborious if you you’re not a speed typist (like myself). 

So, with trepidation, I clicked go.

Stranger: M 17 

 OK, a guy, maybe looking for a hookup. Boy, is he in for a surprise!

 Me: Can I ask you a quick question?

‘Stranger has left the conversation’. OK, that went well.

 I had about 5 of these on the trot, with differing genders and ages. To my relief, I did note that there were only 2 genders listed – you never know these days! 

 I decided to change tack with different questions with the next stranger I met.

 Below are snapshots of the next conversation I had. *WARNING* there may be some objectionable language for some:

 

It was an exhausting conversation, lasting over an hour. Afterwards, I could have been disappointed, and seen the time as a waste. But I know from experience that any evangelistic conversation is never a waste – the bravado may be thick, but underneath you don’t know what God is doing in their heart.

Even though I showed my wife the whole omegle transcript (you can download and save it as an html or take screenshots), she still had reservations about me going on the site. So I made a pact: So as not to cause her to stumble in her walk, I have chosen not to proceed with this sort of ministry. 

I can see the positives with this type of evangelism. When face-to-face contact is not possible, this is the next best thing to get the Gospel across. However, you do need to delve into dark areas of the online world. Prayer coverage is essential. All your spiritual armour needs to be donned, and securely fixed into place before venturing out (or in this case, in). 

Visibility is also essential, for accountability purposes. The more people that can see what you are doing online, the less the chance of temptation to sin. If you have the spiritual and intestinal fortitude, then go for it. But if it may cause someone else to stumble in their spiritual walk, then overlook it, and maybe use one of the earlier avenues mentioned to get the Good News out.

But never let it hinder you in your desire to fulfill the Great Commission! 

Blessings

Craig.

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