“Saving Souls” is what missions is all about… and the more you save, the better your chances are of being supported by a large-rich-anglo church. Unlike the supporting churches, however, where new members are not really wanted or welcomed, unless they fit certain criteria… a mission church is open and excepting of everyone. A good revival may have several people coming forward to be saved. The fact that some of them may have been saved once, twice, or several times before doesn’t really matter because no-one ever bothers to ask what happens to the converts. I know of an evangelist who went to a school and held revivals every week… she was very successful and recorded 20 or 30 new converts at each meeting. There were less than 500 students in the school yet she recorded over 1000 converts per year and did so year after year, and no one ever questioned it.
I had always thought of Missionaries as superheroes… called by God to seek the lost souls of far-off heathen nations, surrendering everything they had to live at the level of the people they served. I would soon discover, however, that many Missionaries were on the field because they did not do well in seminary and for that reason, no church had called them to be Pastor. Others were Bible School graduates who would never be a Pastor of a large church but were good enough to be missionaries. Don’t read me wrong here, there are many great people in missions and some that have sacrificed everything, to serve the God they Love… others, however, may start out with good intentions but soon get burned out on the assumed ignorance of the people they came to serve and end up living a life of luxury while making the native people their servants instead.
I didn’t see myself as a missionary or evangelist at the time and therefore was quite surprised when they invited me to become one of them, during the Navajo Fair. I was helping the construction crew set up the information booth the day before the Fair when they asked if I wanted to work with them. ”How I would go about saving a soul?” I asked, in all sincerity.
“Nothing to it” he replied, “just tell them Jesus loves them and give them a pamphlet… the Holy Spirit will do the rest.”
“Should I tell them anything about myself?” I inquired.
“No, No, don’t make it too personal. Most of them will be drunk anyway so you would only be wasting your time.”
It sounded easy enough… almost too easy, and so the following morning I reported in at the booth and was handed a package of 50 pamphlets. I left at the same time as one of the missionary wives, with the instructions to return in about one hour for refreshments. I followed the missionary wife into the crowd hoping to get some ideas from her, but she was not a large woman and I soon lost sight of her.
I started walking through the large crowd, looking for opportunities, but, as I had been told the day before, many of the people were already drunk or drinking and I didn’t feel comfortable approaching them. After about 15 minutes I noticed a young boy leaning up against a post. He looked more confused than drunk and so I decided to give it a go. “Good morning,” I said, a bit awkwardly. “How are you doing today?”
“What?” he asked, somewhat suspiciously.
“How are you feeling today?” I repeated… then added, “do you know Jesus loves you?”
“I am hungry,” he responded, seeming not to have heard my second question.
“I can’t give you money, but there is a coffee shop over there and I would be glad to buy you a sandwich if you like.”
He nodded his head and we walked over to the shop and set down at a table. I drank a coffee while he scoffed down a ham sandwich and drank a Coke. When he was finished he stood and thanked me for the meal.
I handed him a tract and watched him walk away. I looked at my watch and realized I had only 15 minutes left before reporting in and so I went back into the crowd looking for someone else to witness to. I handed out a few more tracts to people I thought looked sober enough to read them but most people just dropped them to the ground, before the Holy Spirit could enter them.
“How did it go?” I was asked as I approached the booth?
“Not so good,” I responded, “but I did have one good contact.”
“Well… any day you can save even one soul from Hell is a good day.” he responded reassuringly, “and how was it for you?” he asked as the missionary wife approached.
“Praise God, I ran out of tracts after 30 minutes but managed to save 53 people anyway,” she answered joyfully.
“Wow, that is fantastic. Praise God! Wayne saved one as well, so that’s 54 conversions in the last hour.”
“Praise God!” was her response, as she turned and looked my way.
I felt a bit embarrassed but also puzzled by her supposed success… how does one witness to 53 people in less than 60 minutes?