Much has been made in recent years of the fact that the church in the Third World has taken on the mantle of missions instead of simply being its recipient. I would like to issue a challenge to the North American church to regain the evangelistic fervor so evident among many Third World Christians. As the apostle Paul put it, let us follow them as they follow Christ.
My recent crusades at El Paso-Juarez (Texas/ Mexico) and Bristol, England, showed me the sharp contrast that exists in the level of evangelistic energy within the evangelical church. Great hope and a sense of thrill grip the church in Latin America (including the many Hispanics of El Paso-Juarez). Pastors are preaching the pure gospel without apology. Laypeople share their faith with authority.
In North America and Europe, however, I find that while there is much discussion about evangelism, real evangelism is hard to detect. "There simply isn't the same enthusiasm for evangelism there was ten years ago," Anthony Bush, the mission chairman for the crusades in Bristol, told me. Unlike the El Paso experience of revival, Britain greeted us with empty, frigid cathedrals that serve as little more than museums of long-ago revivals. For all but a small percentage of the people in Britain and Western Europe, Christianity is ancient history, not a living relationship.
As an evangelist, I measure the pulse of the church by its evangelistic fervor. Church historian Kenneth Scott Latourette writes that throughout its history, "the primary emphasis of the Church was upon the salvation of the individual for eternal life." Charles H. Spurgeon, the great nineteenth-century British preacher, believed that "the work of conversion is the first and great thing we must drive at; after ...1
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