A few years ago, while on vacation, my husband and I visited a popular tourist attraction. Amongst the throng of happy visitors stood three scowling young men wearing sandwich boards.
One of the boards read, “Repent.” I don’t remember what the other two said. One of the young men pounded his Bible and spoke of hellfire and damnation. The other two stood on either side of him, glaring at passersby.
I’m sure these young men meant well. But I’m not prone to be receptive to a message that is screamed at me by an angry-looking stranger.
In fact, such displays make me cringe.
But this is the image many people conjure when we think of evangelism. In fact, the preface to this book begins by describing a scene similar to the one my husband and I came across.
Lloyd Pulley, in this book, offers us an approach to evangelism based on the acts of Christ Himself during his encounter with the woman at the well.
Drawing on the story told in John 4, Pulley examines how Jesus spoke with this woman. He characterizes the exchange this way:
Love for this Samaritan woman motivated everything He said and did. Jesus had a sincere concern for her eternal soul and a genuine compassion for her temporal situation. Both respect and truth seasoned His speech and drew her to want to know more (page 30).
He continues to describe the key characteristics of the encounter, which create the acronym SHARE: Jesus was sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading. He humbly chose to bridge the cultural barriers between the woman and Himself. He aroused her interest and curiosity to learn more. He revealed the problem of sin. He explained the plan of salvation (page 32).
Pulley reminds us that slick methods and well-written tracts mean nothing without the Holy Spirit’s leading. As he puts it:
Oftentimes there is too much planning and too little waiting on the Lord in prayer; too much organizing and not enough agonizing. God wants us to be a part of what He is doing. He is not interested in merely blessing our plans—He is looking for those who are willing to carry out His (page 54).
The author shares many examples of this Spirit-led, listening, caring evangelism. He offers practical suggestions for sharing the Gospel in this manner. He reminds us that we may be tending a seed that someone else planted and that yet another person may reap the harvest.
Some of the material in this volume originally appeared in Pulley’s Patient Evangelism: Reaching the Multitudes One at a Time. That book focused on the author’s ministry in New York in the dark, dark days following September 11, 2001. This newer edition will ring true for those of us who may never find ourselves at Ground Zero, but feel the Spirit tugging at us to share our love of the Lord with a lost friend.
It’s a short little book of just over 100 pages, and well worth your time. I hope you read it.
Everyday Conversations, Eternal Impact: Lessons Drawn from Jesus and the Woman at the Well by Lloyd Pulley. 2011: Bridging the Gap Publications