by: Dr. Steve Heidenreich
So many times we think that the world of missions is someplace far from us. We must realize that we are standing on the mission field every day. We need to be careful that we are not so interested in reaching people in a far distant field that we ignore the people around us. When Jesus said, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” He meant everyone around us. Many people will give their finances to see people saved around the world, and never win people to Christ in their own area.
Please allow me to give you a few examples from my personal experience of winning people to Christ around me. As a missionary to the world, God has allowed me to be in many places and be around all kinds of people. Because of this, there is a great responsibility in making sure that the Gospel is given.
As a missionary, I spend a lot of time at the airport. While at the airport I have a lot of time, and of course there are a lot of people coming and going. As I allow the Holy Spirit of God to work in my heart, He is always preparing the hearts of people around me for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have witnessed to many people of different languages and religions from many other countries. God has allowed me to win many of these people to Christ. Of course, there are many people who need the Gospel. One of these was a young military man on his way to be stationed at one of our military bases in America. My heart always goes out to these young military men because when they are shipped out they are put in harms way. We have done a great job in preparing them for the battles they will face, but my greatest concern is that they’re prepared for eternity. I talked with this young man, Jacob, and he allowed me to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him. In about 25 minutes, right there at the airport, he bowed his head and trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour.
I also spend many days at hotels as I travel across America and around the world. This is another great mission field that is always around me. I have been able to win many of the hotel maids and workers at these hotels to Christ. I also have been able to witness and win some of the other guests to Christ who are staying in the hotel.
One of the most exciting places where God has allowed me to win people to Christ is on the airplane. I told God that I will do my best to witness to the person who sits beside me. It is amazing the people that God has put beside me on the airplane. On one trip I was able to board before many of the other people. As I sat in my seat and wondered who God would put beside me, I saw a rough looking man come down the aisle. This man was big and tough enough that he could probably eat nails for breakfast. Like many of you, I asked myself how I’m going to be able to get past my fear and witness to him. During the flight I was trying to figure out when it would be the best time to speak to him. Would it be during the flight when I had no way to escape, or while we were landing and time would be short, or just wait and witness to him as we got off the plane. The Holy Spirit convicted me that I should witness to him during the flight. As I introduced myself and began to talk to him, I found out that man was on his way to his mother’s funeral. As I began to show him that God loved him and wanted to comfort him during this time, he began to weep. As I shared the Gospel of Jesus Christ with him, it wasn’t long before he trusted Jesus Christ as his Saviour. It is always amazing how God brings the right people at the right time that He has prepared for one of His people to share the Gospel with them. Sometimes the most difficult people are the most prepared by God for the Gospel.
What I’m trying to say is that the mission field is always around you. I preach and teach mission conferences around America. I’m always encouraging people to give so that many people around the world will have an opportunity to hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. Yet, there are many people around us who need to hear that same Gospel. I hope you understand that your family, neighbors and people you work with are just as important as reaching the people around the world. By the grace of God I’ve been able to win people to Christ in the parking lot, at the grocery store, the hospital and in my own backyard.
The greatest blessing of being able to win people to Christ is to be able to win your own children and grandchildren to the Lord. One of the bonuses is not only seeing your children and grandchildren saved, but also seeing them grow spiritually in the Lord and become great soul winners themselves. Many years ago I won my youngest son, Sam, to Christ, and now he is a missionary in the Philippines and God has used him to win thousands of people to Christ.
Would you please allow me to share one great blessing with you about winning people around you? Just a few Sunday’s ago, our church had a special day where every member was asked to bring one person to church. Our church was packed and there were over 100 adult visitors who attended. Our pastor did a great job preaching, and when the invitation was given and many people raised their hand for salvation, my daughter, Sandy went to a lady who had not raised her hand for salvation, but was visiting and began to talk to her. The lady responded to the Gospel and was saved. One of the ushers brought to me a young 17 year-old boy who was not saved, and asked if I would lead him to Christ. I took him down to the front of the church, and on the front row I was able to lead him to Christ. It was a great blessing to see both of these people saved, and also a great blessing to me because my daughter and I were both winning people to Christ. I pray that God would use you and your family to win people to Christ around you.
I want to remind you that there is a world of missions around you. I challenge you not only to be concerned about reaching the people around the world, but also be concerned about the people whom you see everyday and everywhere you go. I know many people will never go to what we call the mission field, but I do know that they are already on the mission field wherever they are, and God has many people around them who need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Dr. Steve Heidenreich