Years ago, American evangelist Billy Graham came to Great Britain, hired large stadiums like football grounds, and thousands travelled miles to hear the gospel at these events. Thankfully, many were saved. I remember at that time correspondence in the newspapers, one contributor writing, ‘Why should I take my neighbour two hours’ journey across London to hear the gospel when I can tell it to him across my garden fence?’ From then on I became increasingly aware of my responsibility to at least try to make sure my neighbours, friends and colleagues had the opportunity to hear the gospel. I found that personal conversation is sometimes not adequate to make those we want to witness to aware of the gospel’s full content. Especially the seriousness of rejecting the Saviour and facing the wrath of God with eternal consequences.
I turned to writing letters and enclosing a personal booklet about what is important to me. I wrote two such booklets, one short and simple called ‘Seven steps to Heaven’ for such as drug addicts who more or less never went to school, then one for thinking family, friends and acquaintances called ‘My Faith’ to give credibility to the gospel. This has extended now far beyond people I know and whose lives have crossed with mine in some way. For some time now in the daily newspapers and television there have been constant reports of people’s misbehaviour put in the public domain. These persons, many of whom are well-known public figures, are obviously distressed that their behaviour is not only public knowledge, but their close family discover unpleasant things about their loved one. Also there are soldiers who have lost legs, for example, and persons who have been the subject of serious hospital errors. My wife and I can well sympathize with those facing severe health issues, as we have been through this ourselves. These occasions provide a wealth of opportunities to draw people’s attention to the fact that we have discovered there is no better way to face difficulties in life than to know God in a personal way and be assured of His forgiveness through faith in Christ Jesus. We don’t save people, only God does; so you and I have to know firstly that our exercise is from God; He must be in it. Then prayer, all our prayers are vital to support any work, whether the church as a whole or personal.
At first, my letters were too heavily weighted in favour of preaching to people. I soon realised that a better way is to win people’s confidence and then gently encourage them to read the booklet – let it communicate the essentials of the gospel. Most recipients do not reply, but there are sufficient who do reply to indicate that letter and booklet are appreciated and challenging, which of course is what the gospel does. Here is part of a reply, ‘I appreciate you sending me ‘My Faith’. I can see that you have put a lot of thought and effort into it…your faith shines through each page bringing hope and peace to those who read it… thank you for your kind thoughts and prayers…it means so much to me.’ With friends and neighbours, establishing friendship first is important, but even with that six people refused. The Saviour said that if the world hates you, remember it hated Me before it hated you. However, I believe that one day as a result someone will hear the knock of the Saviour on their ‘door’ and say, “Please come in,” (see Rev. 3:20).