Evangelism in a Hurting World

Child praying while wearing mask
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

When there is a health crisis or economic pain, are people’s hearts softened or hardened to the Gospel? We asked our listeners on Facebook, but we also asked an expert. Stu Millar is the Director of Train to Proclaim, which offers resources to help people grow more confident in evangelism. He believes these unprecedented times offer unprecedented opportunities for spreading the Word.

2020 has been defined by droughts, bushfires, pandemics and protests. Anxiety is at an all-time high, and we’re only halfway through the year. So how can the Church act as “salt and light” to a world full of tired and traumatised people?

Stu Millar acknowledges that everyone has a lot to think about right now, especially as we approach the end of the federal government’s six-month relief window.

“There’s a lot of people, and businesses, that are operating ok,” he said, “but they’re being propped up by the government. And come September, there won’t be any more propping up. Then what’s going to happen? It’s certainly concerning. There’s a lot of fear, a lot of anxiety, a lot of hurt in our society now.”

But he also reminds us that the promise of Christ’s return offers us a different perspective. “We don’t need to worry or be anxious or anything, because we know the end of the story, and we know we have that hope. Now that doesn’t mean there’s not going to be massive challenges in our lives. But we have a hope that we can offer to the world, and we’ve got a massive opportunity at the moment.”

Even lifelong believers can struggle to evangelise at the best of times, fearing that in our increasingly secular world, they’ll be met with hostility or ridicule. But how do times like these change the way people respond to the Christian message? In our Facebook poll, 77 per cent of listeners said that peoples’ hearts re softened to the Gospel when things aren’t going well.

Stu Millar and family
Stu Millar from Train to Proclaim with his family.

Millar thinks it’s a little less clear cut. “I think human beings can go either way,” he said. “When there’s suffering, there’s some people who grow harder towards God, and they harden their heart, and they blame God for everything.”

Surprisingly, many of these people are Christians, who become bitter because they felt God should have looked after us better. “Often that’s a wrong understanding of theology, of suffering, of the Fall, and of the situation we’re in. And they’ve been told that God will bless you, and everything will go great in your life. But life is not always like that.”

For non-Christians, Stu says the opposite often happens. When everything’s going well, you don’t need to even think about whether or not there’s a God. “But when things are crashing around you, that’s often when you turn to the Lord.”

Without the sense of purpose which comes with Faith, people base their identity on their money, their social life, or their jobs. But the last few months have reminded us that each or all of those could disappear in a moment. If you know that there is a Creator, who wants relationship with you, that offers a solid, reassuring foundation, or as Jesus describes in Matthew 7:24-27, a rock that you can build on.

Stu says that’s exactly what people are looking for right now. “The storms of life can come, but you still have God in your life, and that’s an amazing thing. So we have a hope that transcends all these Earthly problems.” For more about evangelising in a time of crisis, listen to the podcast of Stu Millar’s Conversation with Neil Johnson below, where he discusses the fallacies of the prosperity Gospel, and the importance of including Jesus’ human suffering in our message, as well as taking calls from Vision listeners.

Train to Proclaim is also offering free evangelism training via Zoom this month. To learn more about that, and access their free evangelism resources, visit their website, at traintoproclaim.com.

Tune into 20Twenty and join the conversation with Neil Johnson, weekdays on Vision Christian Radio. Click here for your local times.

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