Boldness, Bravery, Risk and Change

Emboldened.

I went to the Open Air Campaigners evening yesterday “Breaking New Ground” conference and was struck afresh by the power of faithfully witnessing…

Nigel Farmer, shared how his brother Darren went into town to ‘have a laugh’ at the Street Preachers, not realizing that God himself was going to have the last laugh as Darren and many of his family were converted and later ended up planting 7 Churches, planting the one here in Staple Hill/Bristol when they were in their early twenties.

Denis Adide, shared how he had a long and combative conversation with a couple of Street Pastor types, before going home and encountering Christ in his bedroom… Denis is now training to be a Vicar…

A guy called Gordon shared how a young guy he was disciple-ing was emboldened by a mission, and this brought a friend at work to faith, who  just 10 days ago saw one of his friends come to faith…

These great stories of ‘ripple effect’ all started with someone stepping out of their comfort zone, someone had to bravely speak in that town center in Birmingham for Darren to listen to, someone had to keep on talking to Denis even when he kept arguing back and back…Or Gordon investing in his friend with discipleship…

All these things were sacrificial, all of these things required a first step of bravery, Bill Hybels talks about evangelism just being a “walk across a room” yet often it is the first step that’s the hardest, or that conversation opener which is often the hardest… yet let’s be emboldened and actually do it.

I was reminded of the story of the 5 loaves and 2 fish, of God using the little we have and doing something with it beyond our wildest dreams!
Yet it took courage for the little kid to say to Philip and Andrew “hey does the preacher want my lunch?”
I think so often it is fear that stops us speaking up for Christ, or stepping out for him.
The fear of rejection, ridicule?
Or perhaps it is internal fears such as feeling unqualified? ill-equipped? unworthy?

The thing I was struck with tonight was everyone think Mission and Evangelism is a good idea, but we need to be people who actually do it, rather than just be warmly disposed in principal to doing it.

I remember preaching once about Peter stepping out of the boat and walking on the water, with his eyes fixed on Jesus, and then he took his eyes off Jesus and he began to sink…

In life we have a choice? Do we Panic or Pray?

Which is going to be our motivation fear or faith?

Yet the sinking Peter was grabbed by Christ who saved him from the waves.

In the midst of the storms we have a faithful God.

God promises that ‘he will direct our steps’ and that ‘he will give us the words to speak’.

I am encouraged too that Philip ended up sharing his faith with the Ethiopian Eunuch, which Church history believes brought a continent to faith, starts with a simple question “What are you reading?” -and from that small question, that moment of sticking his neck out and opening his mouth, led to a world changing conversation.

So let’s be emboldened people, actually doing the walk across a room, actually opening our mouths and discovering the amazing opportunities that God gives us.

Yet, sometimes I worry, as today heard a story of someone who went to one of my Churches services in Kingswood and was largely ignored by most people; which makes me wonder how we can transform the world -and people who don’t know Jesus- when we won’t even welcome a guest.

Pray for radical change and emboldening of Christ’s Church and his people, that the stories of people like Daren and Denis aren’t just cool stories to build faith, but a reality we see happen among us on a regular basis.

Being emboldened isn’t something for someone else, we all need it, God give us the courage to walk and talk, to greet and to love with your power and for your glory. Amen.

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