PERSONAL WORK IN A REVIVAL
By: Evangelist Jesse M. Hendley
“And he brought him to Jesus.”–John 1:42
By personal work we mean person-to-person work; the individual Christian dealing with the individual needing spiritual help. This personal work of a Christian dealing with one soul may be a great aid to the mass meeting where the preacher preaches to the people as a whole.
Instead of inviting the individual to come to you, in personal work you go to him. We are commanded to, “Go . . . and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19, R.V.).
JESUS DID IT!
It was not beneath the dignity of ,Jesus to deal directly with a single lost soul. In John 1:43 He “findeth Philip.” Jesus Himself won Philip. Philip did not come to Jesus; Jesus went to Philip. Jesus sought for him until He found him. In John, chapter 4, His spiritual hunger and thirst were satisfied as He dealt with and won the sinful woman of Sychar! In John, chapter 5, He wonderfully healed the impotent man at Bethesda’s pool. In John, chapter 8, when Jesus was left alone with a sinful woman after all her accusers had fled, He spoke words that brought salvation to her heart. In John, chapter 9, He searched out the blind man whom He had previously healed, and when He had found him, led him into faith in Himself as the Son of God. In the three great parables of Luke, chapter 15, uttered by Himself, Jesus reveals His insatiable thirst for individual souls, placing the emphasis on one lost sheep, one lost piece of coin, and the one lost son. He left the many to go after the one. He found it and brought it home rejoicing. Jesus was happy when He won a single soul. He died for the individual sinner. He “loved me, and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20). People are saved individually as they believe and not in groups. John 3:16 translated literally is “Every ONE believing in him shall not perish . . .” Jesus honored personal work!
THE APOSTLES DID IT!
“He (Andrew) first findeth his own brother Simon . . . and he brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42). Philip findeth Nathanael.” Philip imitates his great Master who sought and found him. So he seeks out Nathanael and brings him to Jesus. In Acts, chapter 8, we have a Spirit-inspired account of Philip, the evangelist, doing personal work in leading the Ethiopian eunuch to Christ and salvation. What a wonderful example of a Christian, led of the Spirit of God, dealing with a lost soul over the open Bible until that soul is gloriously saved for eternity! Though they must part, the new convert goes on his way rejoicing.
WE ARE TO DO IT!
All born again believers are to do personal work! We read of the great persecution against the Jerusalem church in Acts, chapter 8, which resulted in a great blessing as “they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word!” Notice that they “WENT EVERY WHERE”! “ALL” the church was scattered (vs. 1) which certainly means the individual members. With burning hearts and flaming tongues they did personal work “EVERY WHERE”! Jesus says, “Ye shall be witnesses unto me”! (Acts 1:8). Christ’s witnesses tell lost souls what they know about Christ and His salvation that they may be saved! Surely this is our main business in life!
BELIEVERS’ SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY!
An old man who was dying called me to his home. He had listened to me as I preached over the radio on the believers’ responsibility to reach lost souls who are dying in sin. Pulling up a chair by his bed, I said,
“Brother, what can I do for you?”
Tears began to roll down his cheeks. He reached under his pillow, pulled out a dollar bill, handed it to me as he said, “Preacher, I was raised in the country and spent most of my life there. Only recently when I became ill my boy brought me here to his home to take care of me. He bought me a radio. I never had listened to one much and did not care for it, but he urged me to tune in your broadcast. I began to listen. You were preaching on the responsibility of Christians to reach others for Jesus. I had never heard this before. I know I was saved when I was a boy in the little old country church. I thought that all I needed to do was to enjoy my salvation all to myself. Nobody ever told me I should try to win others until these last few days, and now it’s too late. Preacher, I’ve wasted my life! I’m saved, but I’ve wasted my life!”
Oh, it was pitiful to see and hear the anguish of this old man on the brink of eternity! I tell you, next to losing your soul the most horrible thing I know is to lose your life!
STIRRING CHRISTIANS TO PERSONAL WORK!
The preacher must constantly remind Christians of their duty and privilege to win souls by personal contact. Certain truths from God’s Word will shock and awaken Christians to this great work that God requires of us and to the solemn fact that we must one day give an account of our Christian lives. These truths show us the great shame, the reproof, and the sorrow in store for those who disobey the Master’s orders and refuse to do the work He outlined for us to do! Such themes and texts as the following should awaken the most careless: (1) The judgment seat of Christ! (2) The awful sin of not doing personal work when God had ordained this means to reach lost souls! (3) “Blood required”! or When God requires the sinners’ blood at the hands of a Christian! (4) Disobedience– the Christian’s sin of ignoring and refusing his Master’s plain command! (5) Multitudes of Christians who will lose the soul winner’s crown! (6) The awful punishment for unfaithfulness! (7) “. . . that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten.” (8) Christians who will shine as the stars forever! (9) The glorious future and rewards for those who win many to Christ!
May I give a testimony to the glory of God? Eleven years ago when I began my ministry, in my church there was only one person, a lady, who could take her Bible and intelligently lead a soul to Christ. Now we have at least seventy-five, and have had for a long while. They are constantly bringing a stream of souls to Christ. Two things developed these soul winners: (1) Constant messages, as above, from the pulpit. (2) Actual personal contact and dealing with the lost in revival meetings and from house to house work. Oh, we Christians must be constantly reminded of our solemn responsibility! The preacher in the revival will do well to stir Christians constantly to do this work.
Where are we to do personal work? EVERYWHERE you find lost people and can possibly witness to them.
“Highways and Hedges”
Jesus commands us, “Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in” (Luke 14:23). The word highways means the ways, paths, roads where people are journeying. We are to go out on the roads to seek travelers and “compel” them to take Christ, the road to Heaven. The word hedges means a fencing in, and suggests farms or fenced in places in the outlying districts. How neglected are the rural districts while the more earnest efforts are given to the large cities!
Let us particularly note the Saviour’s command,
This is a strong expression. It is a command we cannot afford to disobey. The word compel means “to necessitate, compel by force or persuasion, constrain.” We are to press upon people the claims of God and Christ, earnestly showing them their lost condition, the danger of sudden death, the danger of a hardened heart; and we are not to let up until by earnest, serious persuasion we have compelled them.
“TO COME IN”!
We are not simply to drop a passing word of brief testimony. We are to press for a decision. We must get them in out of the approaching storm. At all costs we must win them now. “Today” is the day of salvation; “tomorrow” the day of judgment. We have not won a soul till he has signed on the dotted line, till he has “come in”! God’s invitation is not to be simply handed to sinners but they must accept it and signify their intentions. We must demand, in loving compulsion, that they send the Master word that they have accepted His great invitation!
Of Paul in Athens we read, “So he reasoned . . . in the market-place every day with them that met him” (Acts 17:17, R.V.). A better translation would be, “them that happened to be near or present.” The market place was the place in the city where people gathered together in large numbers. Here they traded, stood idle, greeted one another, and carried on conversation. Paul sought out these places to do personal work and win souls Lo his Master.
So in our revivals we must not think of the church building alone, but the influence should extend to those who otherwise might not attend the services-people on the roads, the farms round about, and especially the places where the most people gather together.
IN THE HOME
The other day in Mobile, Alabama, a lady came up to one of our personal workers and with shining face said, “Do you remember me? You led me to Christ in Columbus, Georgia, in my home.” There was no doubt she was “abiding fruit”; the joy of her salvation showed in her face!
I was preaching in a south Georgia town where we had held a revival a few years before. An old man came up to me and said, “Where’s my friend, Ernest?” I told him he could not come that night, and he said, “I sure would like to see him again. You know, he led me to Christ. He came to my home and asked my wife where I was. She told him I was working in my garden. He came back there and led me to Christ.” Paul tells us to preach from house to house together with the public meetings.
It is fine for Christians to turn in names of loved ones and friends who are lost and for whom they are praying, for workers to visit.
But now let us consider personal work.
IN THE CHURCH
or public meetings wherever held, whether church, tent, tabernacle or elsewhere. The main work will be done after the evangelist has finished his message.
IN THE AUDIENCE
It is well to have workers stationed in the back of the audience to watch for evidences of convicted people and to go to such people and with tact and loving persuasion urge them to go forward and accept Jesus as their Saviour. Worker, tell them you will go with them. It is ten thousand miles to the front for the poor lost soul. A sympathetic worker may help that soul make the start which will mean his open confession unto salvation.
In order to help personal workers know to whom they should speak, sometimes the evangelist has people desiring prayer for salvation to raise hands. Those who do so indicate they are lost and are somewhat concerned. Another method is to have saved people raise their hands. Still another is to have saved people stand to their feet. Whatever the method, the worker should be given a clue to those concerned. Sometimes one can tell by seeing someone weeping or that solemn look of misery, fear and anxiety on the face.
Do not be too conspicuous. As you move around, do it as quietly and inconspicuously as possible.
Do not talk too loudly; it will hinder the evangelist’s appeal.
Avoid embarrassing the person if possible.
Avoid familiarity in touching the person.
Never speak roughly but always in love. If a person does not respond, we should leave him willing to come again.
Only one worker at a time should deal with a person.
Do not preach a sermon.
If these suggestions tend to scare you, forget them. Just plunge in with the love of Christ in your heart and love for that lost soul. God will guide you. The main thing is to get the job done!
AT FRONT OR INQUIRY ROOM
There are various methods of dealing with souls who come forward or are brought forward by workers during the evangelist’s invitation. Some evangelists, greatly used of God, have them simply take the preacher’s hand, signifying their faith in Jesus and their personal acceptance of Him as Saviour and Lord. Others add to this the open confession at the close of the service, having all to stand in line facing the audience and each in turn to give his or her statement that he or she has trusted Jesus.
Some evangelists have the people come forward and go immediately to an inquiry room where workers may deal with them. There are two advantages in this method. The audience may be dismissed and go home while the people are being dealt with. It gives unlimited time to help people to the satisfaction and assurance of salvation. Some people are assured immediately while others may take a longer time to see God’s plan of salvation and to enter into peace. Then, too, many have problems distressing them, and it may take much time to give the answer from God’s Book. In such cases, when they are being dealt with at the front during the invitation, these may be asked to tarry and be dealt with after the service.
Still others like to have personal workers deal with them with an open Bible while they kneel together at the front, at which time the unsaved person may pray the sinner’s prayer, confessing he has sinned and asking mercy of God for Jesus’ sake and telling Him he definitely will trust Him from this moment on, as his Savior. God says, “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Rom. 10:13), and many souls enter into peace the minute they personally contact God in humble prayer. Then Scriptures on assurance may be read to them.
After this they may stand at the close and confess Jesus openly and publicly according to His Word, “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 10:32-33). The word confess means to acknowledge. The word deny means to refuse to acknowledge.
Who has not felt the mighty impact of the Spirit’s presence and realized that the eternal destinies of immortal souls were being decided while they sang “Just as I am,” or some other great invitation hymn? Heaven draws near and we feel the veil which separates us from the world of spirits is mighty thin at such times!
Be earnest. Souls are perishing-they are on their way to Hell. We must stop them, turn them back at all costs!
Be serious. There is not a joke in the Bible! God is serious with souls. Jesus was serious in dealing with souls. The house is on fire; we must rouse the sleepers lest they perish in the flames.
Speak in love. Harshness, anger, irritation and bitterness will never win a lost soul! Sympathy, love, compassion, a genuine interest will! “Love never faileth.” Everything else will. Sinners are lost, blind, deceived, whipped by the devil and in bondage to sin! Ezekiel said, “I sat where they sat” (Ezek. 3:15). Sit in the sinner’s place and treat him like you would want to be treated.
GET HIM CONVICTED IF HE IS NOT ALREADY SO!
Read to him the solemn portions of God’s Word that describe his lost condition, and he is apt to call on the Lord. A drowning man does not want the lifeguard until he knows he is going down.
It is best to have sinners pray if they will and to ask God to forgive them and save them for Jesus’ sake. Many may say they do not know how to pray. It then would be best to lead them out in prayer, with the worker praying a sentence and the suppliant following. A suggested line of prayer:
God be merciful to me, a sinner, and forgive me for Jesus’ sake. Lord Jesus, I do receive You now as my personal Saviour. I believe You died for me on the cross; that You took my Hell, my judgment, my sins, my punishment, so God can freely forgive me. And I do now surrender my life to You, intending to serve You the rest of my days. And when I come to die, I believe You will take me home to Heaven, not because I am good but because You loved me and died for me.
ABOUT THE BIBLE
As a rule it is best not to use too many Scriptures, but let them base their assurance on some one promise of God even as Paul said he was, “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, PROMISED” (Titus 1:2). It may be necessary to explain several verses before the soul sees God’s plan clearly. A soul should not be left until the way is clear and, as far as possible, he is assured all is well with him.
GET HIM THROUGH
The businessman has not been successful until he gets the signature on the dotted line. A football team may run the ball much between the goal posts, but only when they cross the goal have they scored! The fisherman has failed if he does not come home with a string of fish. Oh, how much witnessing is done without bringing souls to a decision! It is “they that TURN many to righteousness” who shall shine “as the stars for ever and ever” (Dan. 12:3).
It is “He which CONVERTETH the sinner from the error of his way” who is doing the job God wants him to do.
ABOVE ALL DEPEND ON GOD!
All the power of the sacred Trinity is with the clean, prayerful, godly, surrendered Christian who goes after souls! The power is God’s but He operates through willing tongues, hands and feet! Salvation is God’s work (“They shall be all taught of God”–John 6:45) through Christ (“That He [Christ] should give eternal life”–John 17:2) by the Spirit (“He will reprove the world of sin”–John 16:8; “Born of the Spirit”–John 3:6) working through yielded and witnessing Christians.
He will give you the words to say! “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual” (I Cor. 2:13). The other night a mother who had recently buried her little girl came forward at the invitation and was saved. Her husband did not come. Right after the closing prayer a personal worker felt led to speak to a man and stepped up to him and said, “Brother, is there anyone in Heaven you want to meet?” The man, greatly moved, hurried with the personal worker to the front where he knelt and received Jesus! Not until then did the worker learn he was the father of the dead child. The Spirit gave him the exact words to win the sinner to Jesus!
THEY ARE WAITING
In a Florida town a lady heard a gospel broadcast over the radio during a revival. She wrote that she was convicted and asked for prayer. The preacher and I drove to her home; she was ripe for salvation. We knelt and prayed for her. Then she prayed and received Jesus. As she closed her prayer, she burst into tears and said, “Oh God, save my daughter.” We turned to the daughter and she also was saved. When we read the Scriptures and started to go, the mother said tearfully, “I’ve been worried about my sins, but I didn’t have anybody to tell me how to be saved!” Beloved, millions are like that! Let us reap the harvest and go home, “bringing our sheaves with us!”
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