“Why did you wait so long…”
Vincent Donovan was a missionary who worked among the Masai people of Tanzania. In May 1966 he wrote to his Bishop about how after 100 years of missionary work building and running hospitals, schools and mission compounds (which by that very term sound more like defensive fortifications than a welcoming oasis) and attending some Masai ceremonies, there were no adult coverts to Christianity. A missionary colleague had told him that it would take another 100 years for the Masai to be ready to talk about God.
So Donovan proposed going out to where the tribes lived and just talking to them about God – and that’s what he did. He asked permission from the elders to speak to the community (not individuals), suggested a religious theme or thought, asked for their views and fed in his views as a Christian.
It was hard work but great work – Masai people believed in “the Man Jesus” for the first time.
The elder at the first tribe Donovan went to, after he had explained he had come to talk about God and Christianity said “If this is why you came here, why did you wait so long to tell us this?”
What can we still learn from Vincent Donovan?
(See Resources reviews below)
Evangelism work past
Preached at Great Leighs Free church on passing on the message of God from Jonah: some people said they were encouraged, some said they were challenged as we looked at why we too often don’t pass on the message because of doubts and fears. This sermon can also be heard by following the link at https://nigelbolitho.org/speaking/
Met with the preachers from Saffron Walden’s Deanery Evangelism Sundays to review how it went (good to hear people found the training we did in March helpful) and made plans for another one next year. It will include this time training churches in inviting people to come to these services.
Reviewed with Broomfield Road Evangelical church’s leadership team their evangelism strategy and suggest ways to build on the increasing links they have with their local community. It is great to see how God has worked through this church over the past few years and that they want to keep growing spiritually and numerically.
Attended a commissioning service for new Church of England Chelmsford Diocese Evangelism enablers including two who I worked with on the Certificate of evangelism training course – encouraging to see them ‘come through’.
Co – led the first day of Church of England Chelmsford Diocese’s Evangelism enablers training course – 6 great people committed to evangelism, open to learning, enthusiastic for discussion and up for laughing.
Discussed with leaders of Chelmsford Diocese ways that Evangelism enablers and Pastoral assistants training could be linked.
Evangelism work future
8th December / 9th February co – leading Church of England Chelmsford Diocese’s Evangelism enablers training course.
22nd January Saffron Walden Deanery’s Evangelistic preachers meeting.
Read Christianity Rediscovered (Vincent Donovan) (see above)
A mission and evangelism classic I have recently reread. It still seems to have as much relevance today as ever – which says something. Apart from the challenge to our approach (see above), he also challenges the way we see minorities, communities, church structures and church direction: an inward-looking Christianity is “no Christianity at all”. He refers back to Paul’s example and points forward to what we would call fresh expressions today. Essential reading reflecting the necessity and urgency of evangelism.
Use Talking Jesus (http://talkingjesus.org/)
“There are six encouraging, video-based sessions with short films, inspirational, short testimonies, real-life examples from people who are talking Jesus, and a short, easy-to-follow course book”. I still find some of the findings of the survey surprising e.g. “67% of the population know a practising Christian” if only 10% of the population go to church (and not all of them are actively sharing their faith) and “20% of people we speak to want to know more” about Christianity (my % is definitely lower than that – what about you?). But this course is down to earth and easy to follow.
Read The one about (https://www.licc.org.uk/product/the-one-about/)
8 stories about God in peoples’ everyday lives to help us see our daily lives differently. We can read it on our own or with a home group as it gives ideas to reflect on to change how we see things and what we do and say.
Use Resolve (http://220.127.116.11/theresolvecourse.org)
This is a 4 week course for people who are not Christians to explore making long term positive changes in their lives by looking at what experts say and discussing what other people on the course say before doing some practical tasks. A pre – Alpha type course – but according to Vincent Donovan (see above) it is arrogant to think people are not ready to hear the gospel and we should focus on just telling people it. Jesus says “preach the gospel” (Mark 16 v 15) – not “preach the gospel if they are ready”. What do you think?
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