The Jesus Movement and Contagious Faith
By Jerry Wiles
In the Spring of 1971, as students at Union University and newly-weds, my wife and I moved from Jackson, TN to Akron, OH for a summer job. (I was selling books and leading a team of college students with The Southwestern Company (now Southwestern Advantage). At the end of the Summer we moved to Murfreesboro, TN and enrolled as students at Middle Tennessee State University. This was during a season known as the Jesus Movement, or the Asbury Revival. It was a turbulent time in many ways, as well as a spiritually transformational season for many of us. We had the opportunity of making lots of new friends and had some amazing experiences. One of the couples we got to know was a businessman and his wife, Wayne and Barbara, had recently had a life changing encounter with the Lord. They were excited about Jesus and were actively sharing Him with others. Their faith was contagious. The Lord greatly used them in influencing our spiritual lives and walk with God. In many ways they were models and mentors to us. We also began sharing our faith and seeing others come to Christ.
Better Caught, than Taught
We have often heard the phrase, “Our faith in Christ is sometimes better caught, than taught.” It is true that what others see in our lives is often more impactful than what we say. Sharing Jesus should be a spontaneous outworking of the indwelling Christ. Scripture tells us that it’s out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The way we treat people is often more important than what we tell them. However, our witness and ministry should be both showing and sharing our life in Christ. In the context of the mission of Living Water International and many other similar faith-based organizations, the focus is on integral mission, or wholistic ministry. People need to have a demonstration of the love of God, as well as a proclamation of the Good News of Jesus.
Life, Character, and Power
Sharing Jesus in the workplace can apply to our own workplace, as well as the workplace of others. Sharing Jesus should start with those who are closest to us, our families, neighbors and closest friends and associates. A foundational truth is a realization of who we are in Christ, and who He is living in us. As a result of our spiritual new birth and union with Christ, we are new creations, made righteous and are complete in Him. We are ambassadors of Christ, ministers of reconciliation, and have been giving the message of reconciliation. We have also been given all things that pertain to life and godliness through our union with Him. Knowing our true identity in Christ will give us the capacity to act on that truth and demonstrate it to those around us. God’s ultimate intention for each of His children is being an extension of His life, an expression of His character and an exhibit of His power.
The Power of Word and Deed
Over the years I’ve heard people say something like, “I just witness by my life.” That’s great and our incarnational witness is important. However, faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. So, at some point we need to communicate the truth of the gospel. That can take on many forms of expression. Sharing tracts, gospel literature and Scripture portions have been effective with many coming to faith. However, word of mouth, telling our story (testimony) and God’s story is really more universal and appropriate in many cases. Biblical storytelling and other oral art forms are gaining attention and momentum around the world. It’s returning to the most basic and the most effective ways that people have learned and communicated since the beginning of time. Again, it’s our witness in word and deed that enables us to effectively share Jesus in the workplace, and in any place.
Cross-Pollination and Collaboration
In 1994 Houston was the host city for the World Congress on Marketplace Evangelism. It was a season of accelerated learning for many of us about the numerous possibilities of ministry in the marketplace and the business world. There are several different streams and expressions in the Business as Mission movement. Some are referred to in terms such as Missional Business, Kingdom Entrepreneurs, Tentmakers, Marketplace Ministries, Corporate Chaplains, to name a few. The following year in 1995, as part of the AD 2000 and Beyond movement, the Global Consultation for World Evangelization took place in Seoul, South Korea. More than 4,000 church and mission leaders from 180 countries were participants. These and several other such conferences, congresses and consultations have provided opportunities for cross-pollination, collaborative learning, and numerous resources and strategies for advancing the Kingdom.
When we think of the diverse methods, resources and strategies, there are no shortages of examples. The various ways of sharing Jesus in everyday life can take on many different expressions. It will be different for a business owner or corporate executive than for a janitor, bus driver, security guard or salesperson. However, when we are in a right relationship with the Lord, every place provides witness, ministry or mission opportunities. A long-time friend in the auto sales and car rental business is a great model. Being the owner of the business allowed him to conduct Bible Studies and prayer times with his employees, as well as customers from time to time. The marque at this car dealership read, “Selling Cars is our Business – Sharing Christ is our Life.” That phrase was also printed on their business cards. A dentist friend has Scripture posters displayed on the ceiling in his practice, so his patients see them while have their dental work done. Not everyone can be that bold and upfront, but many can.
Orality Strategies and the Work of the Spirit
Another friend is an architect and has a construction company. Participating in Bible Storying and Orality training equipped him with some new skills he has effectively used in his business. He often takes lunch to his employees on the work sites and tells stories while having lunch with them. He has led several to the Lord using the skills of telling stories and asking questions. As valuable as acquiring skills, methods, and techniques for sharing Jesus, it is foundational to recognize the role of prayer and the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is creative and unlimited in the ways He can use us as salt and light, and as ministers of reconciliation in our spheres of influence.
The Best is Yet to Be
It is encouraging to realize that we don’t have to wait for some sweeping movement of God. We can enter the redemptive activities of the Holy Spirit at any time. He is ready when we are. Many are praying for another Jesus Movement, spiritual awakening, and revival in our time. It is important to realize that God has been, is now and will always be active in redeeming His creation. It is our own hearts that need to be changed, focused on Him, and obedient to His Word. The greatest movement of God may just be ahead. We can pray, hope, and act accordingly. The best really is yet to be.
For more information, visit: www.water.cc/orality-training or www.orality.net