In the midst of much MS fatigue and some discouragement, I recently took a long, close look at my life and ministry. I was chagrined to find that I was coasting. Coasting has never been my way of life. I began daily to pray a three-fold prayer:
1. Lord, help me to want to want to love you more than life itself.
2. Help me to understand and love more than life that which You are doing through
3. Help me to have Kingdom expansion eyes every day where ever I go.
As I searched the scriptures I was hit square in the face with Matthew 4:19 where Jesus says, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Church planting has been my passion for many years. Being a “fisher of men” is the first step in church planting. Now that I was not actively planting churches, even though I wanted to, somewhere along the way being a fisher of men fell in the cracks. Through His Word God reminded me that being a fisher of men has always been my first calling.
To be or not to be. I had to make a decision either to follow God's Word or not follow. I chose to follow. In the past three months I have seen more miracles than in the past 20 years. Fishing has become an everyday way of life for me. I invite you to join me in the most exciting fishing trip I have ever taken. Being fishers of men is the first calling of every person who has been born again.
What does the Bible say?
In Luke 19:10 the Bible says “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”
Note in John 20:21: So Jesus said to them again, “Just as the Father has sent me, I also send you.” For sure there a connection between why Jesus came and our mission. He came to seek and save the lost. In a sense we are an extension of the incarnation. Jesus is The Son, we are the sons. We are to seek and let Him save the lost.
Jesus drew near and said to them, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20 GNT
For I have an obligation to all peoples, to the civilized and to the savage, to the edu- cated and to the ignorant. So then, I am eager to preach the Good News to you also who live in Rome. I have complete confidence in the gospel; it is God's power to save all who believe, first the Jews and also the Gentiles. Romans 1:14-16 GNT
Jesus said, “Do you not say, ʻThere are yet four months, then comes the harvest. Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” John 4:35 ESV
As we are going what do we see?
In Wal-Mart what do we see? When we go to the doctor what do we see? When we go to a real estate office what do we see? When we go to the attorney's office what do we see? When we go to a retail store to buy clothing what do we see? When the plumber comes, what do we see? When we go to work, what do we see? In the fast foods places what do we see? We need to see people.
When we look at a person, we should ask ourselves, “Is that person worth Jesus dying for? If so, what is that to me?”
You get the picture - Jesus said as you're going...lift up your eyes.
Secularism has invaded the Church to the extent that our vision is blurred. Lost people sometimes say the church is full of hypocrites. They may be referring to members who swear, gamble and get drunk, etc. This is hypocrisy, but there is a much greater hypoc- risy that is overwhelming....white collar hypocrisy. This is pretending that all is well if we are good folks, go to church and read our Bibles and pray a little and give a tip. All this is commendable (except the tip). But to know the teachings of Jesus concerning wit- nessing and evangelism and not be fishers of men is hypocrisy at its worst. Our primary mission is to experience Acts 1:8 But when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, you will be filled with power, and you will be witnesses for me in Jerusalem, in all of Judea and Sa- maria, and to the ends of the earth. We are to realize Matthew 4:19 as we are going - daily. Not to do this is the ultimate hypocrisy. The Church is riddled with serious hypoc- risy from top leaders down to pastors and members. I want out of the traditional box and to get on with the ministry to which Jesus called us.
There are folks who spend thousands of dollars to go to another country to minister, but at home can go weeks - or months - without deliberately seeking out the lost and shar- ing the Gospel. We can keep on preaching, doing seminars, writing books and teaching, but never get a hook wet. (SeeThe Fisherless Fisherman at end of this paper.)
Jesus said to them, “Come with me, and I will teach you to catch people.” Matthew 4:19 GNT Another translation says, Jesus said, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men."
• If I am following Jesus what will I be doing?
• If fishing for men is not my primary business am I following Jesus?
So what am I doing?
1. I am seeking fish that are hungry. (Holy Spirit prepared soil)
2. Discipling newly caught fish to get busy immediately catching fish themselves. “As for you, my son, be strong through the grace that is ours in union with Christ Jesus. Take the teachings that you heard me proclaim in the presence of many witnesses, and entrust them to reliable people, who will be able to teach others also.” 2 Timothy 2:1, 2 GNT
It is a high priority - every day, everywhere I go. There are times when the Holy Spirit says go to a place and we arrive to find a person waiting.
Note Phillip and the Eunuch - Acts 8. At noontime, still hot, the Lord said go. No ques- tions asked, Phillip immediately went. Convenient - no. Comfortable - no. Time consum- ing - yes! Under the direction of the Holy Spirit he went and he found a lost, hungry man. Miracles happen as we are obedient. Could this happen today? For sure. Not in meetings where we talk and teach about outreach. Not behind a computer. Sometimes intentionally going, but always as we are going.
There are excuses - too busy, too shy, don't know what to say, afraid of what the lost will say, I don't have the answers....Satan tells us those things. For some it may be that the new birth is not a reality in their own lives. For some it may be a watered down false re- ligion - orthodox, but doctrine only.
So how does it work?
The question that needs to be asked of people is not:
- Are you a Christian? Too general and often meaningless.
- What church do you go to? For an unbeliever this is irrelevant.
- Are you a believer? Everyone believes, even the devil.
- Come to my church. This is not the greatest need of a person who has not been born
How do I approach people? I strike up a friendly conversation to break the ice. Then I ask if I can give them a gift. The offer of a gift will automatically bring down walls. I have in hand copies of the evangelistic tool, Good News For You. I then let the person know that I am not a crazy religious nut. I explain the nature of the book, showing questions on the left with the answers coming directly from the Scripture which is included in the booklet. As the situation becomes more relaxed, I say, "May I ask you a question?" Al- ways they say yes. Then I ask them, "Have you been born again?" If they say yes, I congratulate them and suggest they look the book over and give it to someone who has not been born again. If they say no or seem not to understand the question, I suggest they work through the study guide to find what the Bible says about how to get to heaven. I then thank them for their time and say, “May God bless you.”
It is very important to be sensitive concerning the time spent with people. Remember they have a purpose for being where ever we meet them. They often will be focused and in a hurry. So cut the talk time. Normally a long conversation will be inappropriate and people may not want to hear what we have to say. The message is in the tool (Good News For You). Donʼt preach, teach, or give opinions, but let Godʼs Word be made known through the study guide. A cashier at the check out line or at the bank will not have time for a conversation. There may be times when I will only say the following. “May I give you a gift? It is Good News. It tells the way to go to heaven. May God bless you.” There will be times when I donʼt ask them if they have been born again, although I usually find it convenient to ask. It is this question that they will remember for years.
In John 3:3 Jesus said that unless a person is born again, he will not see the Kingdom of God. Jesusʼ statement is pointed, specific, and leads to the most relevant question on earth - Have you been born again? People who have been born again will know it.
That is the question - only five words. Have you been born again? There is the tool - Good News for You. Not my words, not my sales pitch, not my personality, not my experience, not my education, not my denomination, not a program out of an office, - just Godʼs Word and the Holy Spirit. Mark 4:14 “The sower sows Godʼs Message.”
Just asking the question would not normally be effective. There would need to be a re- sponse and comments and people are not normally interested in what a stranger has to say. But I leave them with the Good News for You booklet in hand. It has the answers. No preachy stuff - just the questions they need to be asking and the answers from the Scriptures.
This tool is like a hand and glove with the question, have you been born again?
It is a self study guide which is totally nondenominational. The lessons are designed to gently lead a person to a clear, complete understanding of what it means to be born again, to become a genuine follower of Jesus Christ. The lessons are progressive in moving toward a decision based on Biblical knowledge. People are not intimidated, preached at, lectured, or persuaded by a human. A person who has been born again through the use of this tool can effectively and confidently lead another person to Christ using the same tool. It is designed to be reproducible, thus simple and Biblical.
The combination of The Word and the Holy Spirit is the secret.
This is quite opposite to the "easy believism" which is very prevalent even in Bible teaching churches. This explains why our churches are filled with members who never lead a person to Christ. It is difficult to be motivated to be serious about doing what Christ told us to do if we have not been born again.
There is a simple principle that is critical - we must remember that what Godʼs Word says is more important and more powerful than anything we have to say about Godʼs Word.
Every day, every where I go, having Kingdom expansion eyes I pray, dear Lord guide me to thirsty people. I carry copies of Good News For You (large edition so people will see it) into every store or public place I go. I carry English and Spanish copies. I keep plenty of copies in my truck and my car. On the back of each book I place a mailing la- bel with my name and phone number on it. This link is very important.
Questions? More books? Free! Please call: 417-592-0059
I do not give out books indiscriminately. Sometimes I walk an hour or more in large stores like Wal-Mart and give only four or five books away.
There are so many creative ways to start a brief conversation. Positive comments often open doors. God will open doors as we go. Nearly every day I sense a miraculous inter- vention of Godʼs leadership in opening doors.
Recently the Lord led me to a record 21 people in one day. I was fishing intentionally from morning until 10 p.m. The evening at a county jail was joyful yet heartbreaking. I was there close to two hours. Among those I met: A grandmother, wife, 4 children said goodbye to their father, who is to be deported this week; a 65 year old couple visiting their 33 year old son - drugs; a Hispanic wife and 9 year old child visiting husband in jail; a man seeing his 19 year old son - drugs. He had another 15 year old son in a boys home. He said, "All went to _______ when their mother died young from cancer.” In ad- dition to these, many of the inmates were given copies of Good News For You books.
Another day, I was thrilled to see doors open. I was in bed most of the day from MS fa- tigue. In the evening I felt compelled to go "fishing", so to WalMart I went. When I got out of my car I saw a purse on the ground behind the car parked next to me. I took it to the service desk. It was found to contain a lot of cash and several credit cards. The service people called the name but no one came. I left a copy of Good News for You with the purse. When I returned to my car, I saw the doors open to the car next to mine. A woman was looking under the seats. I asked her if she had lost something. Crying, she told me about her purse and the contents. I told her I had good news for her. I said, "Your purse is in the store at the service desk, but I have even better news for you.” I gave her and her daughter a Good News for You booklet. I thought she was going to hug me to death. She sent me a very nice letter - a thank you for the books, plus a gift card.
There is a word my family uses often concerning these contacts: providential. God has the people waiting to receive the Good News. Stories are common that illustrate the promise that He will be with us as we are going sharing the Good News.
My initial goal is 10,000 questions asked and 10,000 books given out.
More and more pastors, DOMs and other servants are catching on. One Director of Missions said this is “long overdue truth and so liberating.” The printer of the Good News for You booklet said, “I want to be a part of this, I want to donate 1000 copies of this booklet to be used in fishing for men."
One pastor said, “Every time I get an email from you about what God is doing through you and the red books, I get convicted because I am not doing it and I am not pushing my church to do it. With that in mind, I no longer want to be convicted by the Holy Spirit for doing nothing.”
A Director of Missions said, “this is hard truth and it is time we accepted it.”
A leader from the Ohio Baptist Convention after receiving this article and the Fisherless
Fishermen, said “I stand convicted, send me 100 copies of Good News For You.” Bottom line: “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is
sin.” James 4:17
The motivation of love is the key - look again at the prayer at the beginning of this
Matthew 23:37 - “Jerusalem, Jerusalem! You kill the prophets and stone the messen- gers God has sent you! How many times I wanted to put my arms around all your peo- ple, just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not let me!”
Jeremiah 8:20-22 - The people cry out, “The summer is gone, the harvest is over, but we have not been saved.” My heart has been crushed because my people are crushed, I mourn; I am completely dismayed. Is there no medicine in Gilead? Are there no doc- tors there? Why, then, have my people not been healed?”
Jeremiah 9:1 - “I wish my head were a well of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I could cry day and night for my people who have been killed.”
Why have I been so complacent about that which God is so passionate about?
To God be the glory!
Used with permission
The Fishless Fishermen
By John Drescher
NOW IT CAME to pass that a group existed who called themselves fishermen. And lo, there were many fish in the waters all around. In fact the whole area was surrounded by streams and lakes filled with fish. And the fish were hungry.
Week after week, month after month, and year after year these who called themselves fishermen met in meetings and talked about their call to fish, the abundance of fish, and how they might go about fishing.
Year after year they carefully defined what fishing means, defended fishing as an occupation, and declared that fishing is always to be a primary task of fishermen. Continually they searched for new and better methods of fishing and for new and better definitions of fishing.
Further they said, “The fishing industry exists by fishing as fire exists by burning.” They loved slogans such as “Fishing is the task of every fisherman,” “Every fisherman is a fisher,” and “A fisherman’s outpost for every fisherman’s club.”
They sponsored special meetings called “Fishermen’s Campaigns” and “The Month for Fisher- men to Fish.” They sponsored costly nationwide congresses to discuss fishing and to promote fishing and hear about all the ways of fishing such as the new fishing equipment, fish calls, and whether any new bait was discovered.
These fishermen built large, beautiful buildings called “Fishing Headquarters.” The plea was that everyone should be a fisherman and every fisherman should fish. One thing they didn’t do, how- ever; they didn’t fish.
In addition to meeting regularly, they organized a board to send out fishermen to other places where there were many fish. All the fishermen seemed to agree that what is needed is a board which could challenge fishermen to be faithful in fishing.
The board was formed by those who had the great vision and courage to speak about fishing, to define fishing, and to promote the idea of fishing in faraway streams and lakes where many other fish of different colors lived.
Also the board hired staffs and appointed committees and held many meetings to define fishing, to defend fishing, and to decide what new streams should be thought about. But the staff and committee members did not fish.
Large, elaborate, and expensive training centers were built whose original and primary purpose was to teach fishermen how to fish. Over the years courses were offered on the needs of fish, the nature of fish, where to find fish, the psychological reactions of fish, and how to approach and feed fish.
Those who taught had doctorates in fishology. But the teachers did not fish. They only taught fishing. Year after year, after tedious training, many were graduated and were given fishing li- censes. They were sent to do full-time fishing, some to distant waters which were filled with fish.
Some spent much study and travel to learn the history of fishing and to see faraway places where the founding fathers did great fishing in the centuries past. They lauded the faithful fishermen of years before who handed down the idea of fishing.
Further, the fishermen built large printing houses to publish fishing guides. Presses were kept busy day and night to produce materials solely devoted to fishing methods, equipment, and pro- grams to arrange and to encourage meetings to talk about fishing.
A speakers’ bureau was also provided to schedule special speakers on the subject of fishing.
Many who felt the call to be fishermen responded. They were commissioned and sent to fish. But like the fishermen back home they never fished. Like the fishermen back home they engaged in all kinds of other occupations.
They built power plants to pump water for fish and tractors to plow new waterways. They made all kinds of equipment to travel here and there to look at fish hatcheries. Some also said they wanted to be part of the fishing party, but they felt called to furnish fishing equipment.
Others felt their job was to relate to the fish in a good way so the fish would know the difference between good and bad fishermen. Others felt that simply letting the fish know they were nice, land-loving neighbors and how loving and kind they were was enough.
After one stirring meeting on “The Necessity for Fishing,” one young fellow left the meeting and went fishing. The next day he reported he had caught two outstanding fish. He was honored for his excellent catch and scheduled to visit all the big meetings possible to tell how he did it.
So he quit his fishing in order to have time to tell about the experience to the other fishermen. He was also placed on the Fishermen’s General Board as a person having considerable experience.
Now it’s true that many of the fishermen sacrificed and put up with all kinds of difficulties. Some lived near the water and bore the smell of dead fish every day. They received the ridicule of some who made fun of their fishermen’s clubs and the fact that they claimed to be fishermen yet never fished.
They wondered about those who felt it was of little use to attend the weekly meetings to talk about fishing. After all, were they not following the Master who said, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men?”
Imagine how hurt some were when one day a person suggested that those who didn’t catch fish were really not fishermen, no matter how much they claimed to be. Yet it did sound correct. Is a person a fisherman if year after year he never catches a fish? Is one following if he isn’t fishing?