We always have prejudices about the people we encounter.
Here is a good story:
After a morning walk, a group of Doctors were standing by a road crossing and enjoying a cup of tea, when they saw a man limping towards them.
One Doctor said he has Left Knee Arthritis.
The second said he is Plantar Fasciitis’.
The third said, just an Ankle Sprain.
The fourth said, see that man cannot lift his knee, he looks like he has a Lower Motor Neuron lesion.
But to me, he seems to have Hemiplegia Scissors Gait, said the fifth.
But before the sixth could proclaim his diagnosis…
The man reached the group and asked “is there any Cobbler nearby who can repair
my Slippers, please?”
That is exactly how prejudiced we are, and express our opinions about the people
who come our way.
Unfortunately, these too are the lenses we wear, as we reach out to communities around us. We wrongfully assume that we understand them and how we should reach out to them.
What is the correlation between meeting basic human needs as they are presented in our contexts, and evangelism? Scripture possesses a principle, which applies to our needs as humans.
Once understood, immediate human needs are great opportunities to introduce people to a personal encounter with the Lord.
Considering the example of the incarnation of Christ, how can the preaching of the gospel and understanding needs within our communities be integrated?
There is of course no wisdom in supposing that someone who has had some kind of blessing has also been saved. Neither can we meet the immediate needs of anyone, and ignore their need for salvation.
Understanding and tying the needs of our target groups to evangelism involves exposing with clarity what the Word of God promises concerning a situation or problem, and explaining how they can fulfill the conditions for that promise and live out its reality.
Jesus’ example of ministry clearly combines evangelism work (teaching and preaching) with meeting physical needs through healing and feeding in relevant and timely ways. There are also examples of him visiting homes of the sick and healing them.
In the earlier chapters of the book of Acts of the Apostles, the early church was involved in evangelism, teaching, and preaching. The disciples were also heavily involved in service and caring for one another.
Churches have found that benevolence provides a link to the preaching of the gospel and identifying potential prospects church membership. Missional churches and organizations have always employed benevolence or service projects to reach out to communities and establish contacts and bridges across which the gospel has been able to travel, and bring people to Jesus.
The next time we go out, let us not be like the doctors, who diagnosed the limping man without first listening to him. This is the secret of effective evangelism: people are more likely to listen to you if you give them an opportunity to share with you their stories.