I’ve been a member of Calvary Temple Church in Sterling VA for over 25 years now. We are passionate about reaching the lost and encouraging the Believers in our community. We have many Events throughout the year to spread the Gospel. I hope you find the following story to be a blessing.
There was a time, back in the day, when Calvary Temple used to go witnessing in Georgetown, DC every Friday night. There was a diverse mixture of socio-economic classes. You had the college students out looking for a party at one of the many bars and clubs. The Yuppies were looking for some eclectic restaurant to talk about Monday morning. The tourists were wandering around looking at a map completely lost. And the homeless population was scattered throughout the neighborhood.
I was very zealous back then, which is a good thing, but I was not very compassionate, which is not a good thing. And I would often find myself trying to argue people into the kingdom of love. After a couple years of witnessing in Georgetown, I can’t remember one single person wanting to pray and ask the Lord into their heart. I’m older and wiser now. And some of my rough edges have been polished up by reproof and humiliation. I’m more keenly aware than ever that it is only by God’s mercy that I am saved and forgiven. Compassion grows more readily in a heart that knows “but by the grace of God there go I.” I try to approach everyone as if they want to hear about Jesus and were just waiting for someone to tell them the good news.
Pastor Scott has been teaching about compassion for the lost and reaching our community with the love of Jesus for over a year now. Our church is broken up into deacon’s groups and a different group goes out witnessing every month. I used to dread it. “People don’t want to hear what we have to say anymore.” “They slam the door in our faces.” “They are mean to us.” Whine, whine, whine. I would get so worked up with fear and dread when it was my group’s turn to go out over how people would respond to me?
I wrote a play a while back and one of the scenes is a conversation with John Wesley, an 18th century street evangelist. I wrote the entire scene as if John Wesley were talking to me about my own witnessing wimpyness. One line in particular comes up in my heart every time I am about to go witnessing and the fear of what people will think begins to rise up. “Are you so fragile that you’d crumple over an unflattering look? Are they going to set you on fire?” Translation: Suck it up you big baby!
Recently, the Lord has had us going door to door witnessing in Winchester with our Bible Study group. Winchester is a whole different world than Sterling or Georgetown. There is both a roughness and a friendliness about it. Many of the people are in much greater need of natural provisions. In Winchester, there is a soup kitchen serving a meal just about every day of the week. A whole community, many of whom are homeless, frequent the soup kitchen circuit. I have been impressed by how they look after and take care of one another. Maybe its because of their humble provisions, but the people of Winchester have been more open to the gospel than any other people I have witnessed to in recent years.
When we go witnessing I take two girls with special needs with me. My job is part teacher, part mentor, and part protector. The girls are very shy and look to me for prompting on what to say if someone opens the door. Their job is to invite the person to the Bible Study on Monday and Thursday nights at 7:00. Their big sales pitch is, “It’s not boring and we all get to read.” I worry that the possibility of having to read in front of others might be a deal breaker for some of our invitees but at least they know it’s not boring. Then the girls will ask, “Are you a believer?” At this point the person in the doorway will answer yes or no and the girls will blink for a moment then turn to look at me for what to do next.
I ask a couple of questions then present the gospel : Jesus loves them and died for their sins so they could have a relationship with God and go to heaven. Then depending on the outcome from that exchange, explain to the girls what we just saw. Here are a few of our experiences around Winchester:
When the person you are talking to doesn’t want to hear what you have to say, but they don’t tell you they aren’t interested. Instead, they start a long dissertation about something that may or may not be related to stop you from being able to say anything else hoping you give up and eventually walk away.
Solution: You have to politely interrupt and tell them, “thanks for talking to us but we don’t want to keep you any longer so we’re gonna go. Have a great day.”
The Too Polite
When they stand there glazed over and absently nod at you while glancing back at their friend who is hiding in the corner.
Solution: Politely ask, “Are you interested in hearing more right now?” They will most likely jump on that like a lion on a raw steak and take the way out you just gave them. Now you can move on to the next person the Lord would have you reach.
The Brush Off
They answer the door and take the tract like they are interested but while you are talking they slowly shut the door and disappear.
Solution: Say to yourself, “Oh, I guess we’re done here.” And move along.
The Silent Treatment
There’s lots of noise inside the house. Until you knock. Then it’s as silent as the grave. We know you’re in there.
Solution: Leave a tract in the doorway and keep going. They may have been abducted by aliens.
The Yell Through the Door
No one answers the door but they holler menacingly from inside, “WHO IS IT!!”
Solution: Holler back, “WINCHESTER BIBLE STUDY!” Sometimes the girls forget and leave part of it off and just yell, “WE FROM THE BIBLE STUDY!” I’ve been amazed that on every single occasion but one – the people answered the door after they heard “Bible Study” because they were interested.
The Walk of Faith
The walk down the dark, dirty, hallway of the “should have been condemned” apartment building, to knock on the door that may or may not have bullet holes in it.
Six Point Solution: 1. Pray. 2. Knock. 3. Listen for the sound of the shotgun being cocked on the other side. 4. Get ready to dive out of the way. 5. Holler back, “WE FROM THE BIBLE STUDY!” 6. Hand out the tract to the very nice people when they politely answer the door.
The Possible Demon Possession
Sometimes combined with the Filibuster. Don’t be fooled by this tactic of the enemy. You can’t talk your way out of this one.
Solution: As you are being followed around town by this person who is shouting random mystical sounding things out to you and everyone else in the vicinity, ask the Lord, “Lord, do we gotta cast a demon out of this dude?” Whichever way the Lord answers, follow up with the story about Paul being followed around by the possessed girl who kept shouting, “These men are servants of the Most High God …”
The Wild Card
When there’s the sound of chaos on the other side of the door – followed by silence – then someone opens the door holding a butcher knife and a cell phone. Once you are finished witnessing to them they will run after you to ask “You got a singles group there?”
Solution: . . . . . . . Yeah I have no idea. That’s new.
Every one of these situations has really happened to us. I can actually quiz the girls afterwards about which one we just saw and they will get it right. “THE FILIBUSTER!” The girls show up faithfully to go witnessing every other Sunday. If only we all had the child-like faith that they have. We would be so much better off.
We’ve had many wonderful opportunities to lead people to the Lord and minister to the Christians in Winchester. You can read more about the Bible Study and what God is doing in Winchester in the Calvary Temple Winchester blog.
About Calvary Temple
Calvary Temple is an independent church which holds to all Assemblies of God tenets of faith. Calvary Temple ministries include Discipleship Training, adult Bible college, media ministry, and an aggressive missions program.
Pastor Star R. Scott is Senior Pastor of Calvary Temple in Sterling, Virginia, where he has ministered since 1973. In addition to the pastoral gift, Pastor Scott functions in the five-fold offices of apostle and prophet. He has planted churches, and currently oversees the pastors and ministries of numerous satellite churches.