Gavin Calver shares the one thing he wish he knew when he started preaching the gospel…
The one thing I wished I’d realised when I first started evangelistic preaching was that even what I think is almost too small to bother using and therefore worth so little, can be used amazingly when given over to God. Experience has taught me to find great comfort for this in Scripture, in particular the story of the feeding of the 5,000 in John 6. When you include the women and children as well you discover that there somewhere between 11 and 15,000 hungry people in a field at lunchtime.
Andrew goes up to Jesus and says, ‘Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?’ (verse 9). Andrew can’t understand how this small offering will help, but despite his lack of spiritual awareness he still knows enough to bring it to Jesus. He acknowledges that the packed lunch before him is not even adequate to feed one hungry man, but he is working with a Jesus who works wonders and so he takes it to the King. As a result, Jesus feeds the whole field with plenty to spare. Andrew is probably as surprised as the rest, but he is beginning to realise that this Jesus can take what seem like small efforts to use, and use them in incredible ways.
The same is true for us evangelists today. He can take the little we have to offer and do things with inadequate resources that we wound never dream possible. The plain and simple reality is that with Jesus on our side anything can happen.
For this reason, when we think we have nothing to offer, when we assume no-one will respond, we must still bring our little to Jesus. Just as he took a boy’s packed lunch and fed thousands of people, he can take our small evangelistic efforts and use them in incredible ways. He can change lives there and then through our small efforts.
It is of paramount importance that we avoid beating ourselves up by unfair comparisons to others too. There seem to be some people who just tell amazing stories of leading people to Jesus on trains, in parks and all over the place. Such tales make the rest of us feel like we can never live up to these standards. Let me be clear on something – we can’t! We are living testimonies of God’s grace, not people collecting Hollywood stories.
We need to celebrate the impact we are making in the everyday not just the kairos moments (the appointment moments in God’s plans). All of us today can bring our little to Jesus and He will use it to help bring others further towards Him. All od us can bring what we see as a small contribution and Jesus can use this to transform the lives of many. I wish I’d realised this earlier.
Gavin Calver is director of mission for the Evangelical Alliance and chair of Spring Harvest.