by Raphael Anzenberger
Ein Evangelist ohne Charakter ist ein Krimineller!
[An evangelist devoid of character is a criminal!]
I can still hear Ulrich Parzany speak these words. We were traveling through Germany with a group of young evangelists to meet with several influential men in the field of evangelism. I saw the young people nodding their heads in agreement as he spoke the words. Ein Krimineller. No more and no less. Am I ein Krimineller?
In his first epistle, Peter strongly reminds us to:
…honor Christ the Lord as holy [in your hearts], always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil. (1 Peter 3:15-17)
The proclamation of the gospel cannot be dissociated from a holy life. We must sanctify the Lord Jesus Christ in our hearts as holy, always keeping in mind the hope that is in us. This is true for every Christian, including those of us who consider ourselves evangelists.
This was even Billy Graham’s battle cry. He talks about it in his autobiography:
From time to time, Cliff, Bev, Grady, and I talked among ourselves about the recurring problems many evangelists seemed to have, and about the poor image so-called mass evangelism had in the eyes of many people. Sinclair Lewis’s fictional character Elmer Gantry unquestionably had given traveling evangelists a bad name. To our sorrow, we knew that some evangelists were not much better than Lewis’s scornful caricature.
In order to protect the message of the gospel, Billy Graham set up a series of resolutions to help him maintain the biblical standards of purity that all evangelists must aspire to. Knowing that Ulrich Parzany’s ministry in Germany is a result of Billy Graham’s influence in his life, it’s easy to understand why personal integrity is so important to him.
When our lives are totally submitted to God and totally dedicated to His service, then we know that we are living a consecrated life, one where Christ is set apart in our hearts. This is the first prerequisite for biblical evangelism. Jesus taught it. Paul shows us how to do it. Peter reminds us of it. We would be fools to ignore it. Down with criminals!
 Words from Ulrich Parzany, “Jesus House” meeting in Stuttgart, 2011.
 Billy Graham, Just As I Am: The Autobiography of Billy Graham (New York: Guideposts, 1997), 127.
Raphael Anzenberger (@RaphAnzenberger) is CEO of France Evangelisation and president of the Francophone Evangelist Forum. He is an evangelist, missiologist, church planter, author, and speaker who seeks to raise a new generation of young evangelists who will bring the message of the cross throughout the Francophone world.