As 2006 rolled around, I was ready to share with others what God had been putting on my heart, specifically in the area of evangelism. We began offering regular Way of the Master training courses. Many were getting excited and more people were beginning to share their faith with confidence. It was an exciting time. We were doing more to go out to the streets to hand out Gospel tracts and talk with people about the Gospel.
In 2008, a group of men from the church went down to a Living Waters conference in West Virginia. It was there that God pushed me in a direction that began to alarm me. I left there feeling a burden to begin open air preaching. I never thought I would do that. Living Waters had just launched their Ambassadors' Academy, giving on site training, especially in open air preaching. I knew I had to go. But the cost was quite high. So, I told the Lord I would go someday, when we had the money. Well, someone in the church rallied support and one Sunday morning I was told that the church had come together to raise the money for me to go to the Academy, including airfare. I was excited, but scared because my excuse was now gone!
|Preaching on Hollywood Blvd.|
My time at the Academy was life-changing. I did things I never thought I would do. My shyness and introversion had inhibited my evangelism for years. Now I was open air preaching on Hollywood Blvd.! I left the Academy with a clear sense of what we could do back in Cleveland.
Evangelism really took off in my life, in the church, and God began connecting us with other evangelists across the greater Cleveland area. It was so refreshing!
|2009 Evangelism Boot Camp|
Along with all this evangelism, there was a renewed focus on the Word of God, especially in teaching through the Bible verse-by-verse on Sundays. One of the most shocking blessings I had gotten was to get a phone call from someone in Maryland who said that they found my sermons online and were listening to them every week with their home Bible study group. Wow - that was not me! That was God.
I wish I could say that everything was sunshine and candy bars. These two approaches to ministry were not well-received by everyone who knew me. Some were sharply against what I was doing. Others thought it was wonderful. Secretly, a dark side was brewing in me. In my sincere attempt to defend what I was doing, a subtle pride was emerging. I do not want to dismiss blame, but I allowed myself to be sucked into an attitude that is found heavy online of Biblical evangelists who see anyone else as less-than in a spiritual sense. Basically, we are doing it right and everyone else is wrong. I was blown and tossed by this for some time, and I didn't like the tension that was going on inside of me. By the end of 2010, something would happen that would blast my world apart.
Read Part 13