You have to notice those who are ready for the gospel or you will exhaust yourself trying to convince disinterested people. Learn what to look for. I will illustrate this with two people.
A tale of two hearts
Mike had been involved in a lot of stuff. He’d been doing drugs hard and selling them. Then, I began meeting with him and teaching him God’s Word. Another minister and I were able to pray with him and watch the power of God change him instantly. The agony of a life of sin gave way to an unknown tongue coming from his mouth. I got to see the beaming smile on his face as he came up from the waters of baptism in the name of Jesus.
Mike has never been the same. He started doing crazy things like witnessing in front of the liquor store and telling everyone he met about the amazing power of Jesus. Mike has been more active in his faith than most of the members of the congregation where he began to attend church, combined.
Contrast Mike’s story to my own. I have never dealt drugs or even used them (unless children’s Advil counts). At age seven I began to desire the Lord so badly I could not go to sleep at night. I would beg my mom to come pray with me (my dad got up at 3 AM and I knew better than to wake him).
I wanted the Holy Ghost so badly, I would cry and pray. I just had to be filled with His Spirit. She prayed with me nightly for a couple of weeks like this. As I grew in this new passion for prayer, my fear-motive (I was afraid of missing the rapture) gave way to faith and love for the Lord.
Sitting in my bed one night, I began to speak in tongues as the Spirit gave me the ability to do so. I, too, have lived a life of abandon for the Lord. I will do anything for Him and have given my life for His service.
Common factor: open hearts
What is the same with me and Mike? We both had our eyes opened and became aware of our need for the Lord. The awareness gave way to a love and total devotion to Him.
For me, it was good preaching. My eyes were opened by hearing the Word of God and being around those who loved the Lord. I was gently led into a right relationship with the Lord (and I am forever grateful to my mom and brother who prayed so strongly for me that night I was filled). Mike’s path was different.
You see, Mike’s eyes were blind to the Lord and his heart was hard against him. The breaking point came when he was arrested for drug-induced sexual misconduct with his stepdaughter. Losing his business, fighting for custody of his children, and much more all brought him to a breaking point. His eyes opened. He saw his need and wanted the Master.
We both came to the same point by different paths. But every disciple begins here: with openness. Once the potential disciple can see their need of the Lord and have an interest in Him, the disciple-maker can begin to go into action. That person is ready to hear the message.
Their eyes and hearts have to be open
When Paul went to Philippi, he encountered two key converts. One was Lydia, a powerful business woman. The other was a rugged jailer. When he got to town, the jailer was not ready for Jesus; Lydia was. Quickly, Lydia accepted the gospel was baptized right away, signifying her total devotion as a disciple of Jesus. Soon, she let the ministry team use her own home for a ministry base as they evangelized the city.
The jailer’s heart was not soft. Yet. When Paul and Silas landed in his jail, God was doing more than just saving their hides. When a mighty earthquake shook the building, the jailer was shaken. He thought his prisoners were gone and his life at an end (Rome would take his life for the life of any escapees). Paul stepped in and spoke with this suicidal man and led him to baptism—becoming a fully committed disciple.
We all are in a continual process of eye-opening moments with the Lord. Learn to live aware of those who are just opening up to the Lord. They will receive the Word you plant.
How do you get people to open up to the Lord?
One of the best ways to bring people to openness to the Lord is to share the Word of God with them. Just the teaching of God’s Word opens eyes and shines a light in darkness. This is where a weekly home Bible study becomes a powerful tool in the disciple-making initiative. If someone will let you teach weekly in their home, business, community center, school, or other location, do it!
Of course, being real with people, showing compassion, and loving others as yourself will go a long way to getting you those teaching opportunities. Help take away suffering and bring joy to people’s lives. They will listen to someone like that.
Go look for someone whose eyes are opening. Perhaps something changed in their lives last night. Be like Paul, ready to step in with the gospel the moment a person’s heart is opened to the Lord!