by Evi Rodemann
There are many discussions about how to evangelise rightly. Should it be a combination of word and deed? Does one play a greater priority, depending upon one’s personal theology? And what role does the actual word of God play?
On 11 July 2017, with 350 other people from Greece and 20 other nations, we celebrated the distribution of over one million New Testaments to the people in Greece. I mean, we celebrated! Even with ice cream and fireworks!
My friends at the Hellenic Ministries have the burden for every household in Greece to receive a New Testament. Over a period of ten years, each summer more than 4,000 volunteers were involved in distributing Bibles, leaving a mark on that country. They will aim to be finished with this project in about four years, now targeting the largest cities. The next step will be church planting.
What makes them so convinced and passionate about delivering the word of God? Several verses in the Bible speak about God´s word going out and causing a change, that whatever is sown from the word of God will not be passed out in vain.
In Isaiah 55:11 we read, “So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
In chapter 55, Isaiah extends an invitation to the needy, comparing the rain and snow which will come down from heaven to water the earth and produce crop to God´s word also to come and produce crop in people´s lives. We might not always see the immediate result of conversion, discipleship, and church plants, but giving out God´s word is never in vain!
What a comfort and a challenge! Too often, I see Christians being hesitant about passing the word of God, afraid that people might not understand the word of God on their own, but we will always be surprised again by the spirit changing people´s lives as they immerse themselves in scripture, starting to believe and seeing the word become reality.
How wonderful that we do not have to do it on our own! This summer at this Greek project “Operation Joshua,” 350 people (aged 0-87 years) in 65 cars drove 52,000 km in five days covering more than 262 villages and for the first time hit a major city where in one day we handed out 42,000 New Testaments door to door.
It was because one man, Costas Macris, had the vision for this. Costas unfortunately died in 2006, and left this legacy of reaching his nation. His son and team took it up!
Where are the people like Costas today, who dream for their nation and are willing to invest their lives into seeing a nation being transformed, even if it will involve hardships and trouble?
It wasstirring to bring Bibles into a nation where the Orthodox Church is still very strong and in control. In some areas, teams were hassled by the police and Orthodox priests because bringing the Bible to every home in their own language feels to them like a loss of control. I
n addition, the Orthodox believers perceive Evangelicals (who are only 20,000 believers in Greece) as heretics. Some people would throw the Bibles back at us and others got very aggressive, but there were some who got so excited to have a Bible, asking for the Old Testament as well. There were people coming after us and asking us for a Bible for an extra family member, a restaurant owner asking us to come back and give him a personal copy, etc.
It seems that times are changing, and for the first time in the history of the Hellenic Ministries, the Orthodox Church encouraged people to keep the Bibles (instead of burning them) and read them.
In the 1980s (in Europe!), Costas Macris was imprisoned for giving Bibles to teenagers in Greece. In spite of persecution, he continued, his family continued, and his ministry and legacy continue to grow.
How much do we believe the power of the word of God to hand it out no matter what the consequences might be?
May you and I be encouraged to believe that passing on the word of God is never in vain.Let’s spur each other on as we seek to see our nations being transformed by the power of God!
Questions to ponder:
As we think about the word of God and evangelism, below are some questions to ponder:
- How much do you really believe in the transforming power of the word of God?
- When was the last time you read the Bible with someone who is not yet a believer?
- Who around you has no Bible, and could you give him or her one?
Evi Rodemann (@erodemann) is part of the Lausanne European steering team and a member of the Lausanne YLGen Development team, living out her passion of reaching young people and developing younger leaders, especially with a focus on Europe. In 2016, she completed her MA on European Mission with Redcliffe College, UK.