Winning the West- Going Out of Your Way
By: Pastor Harvey Seidel
We have talked about two important things in reaching the west. First, the principles of letting the Holy Spirit work and using the Bible, God’s word, as a powerful tool. Also, we spoke of becoming friends with those who you plan to reach for Christ, and how this "friendship evangelism" is vital in the western culture.
Western people are probably the most independent people you will ever meet. Many of them have been here all their lives and their parents and grandparents, before that, founded this western culture. We often hear the phrase, “If you need some help, let me know.” Well, after all these years I have yet to have anyone “let me know!” I think after all these years out here, I have become that way too. No, I won’t ask you, but if you want to help, do it. If you really mean it then you will put action to your words.
Many years ago, here in Thermopolis, we bought an older house that needed a lot of remodeling. Lois and I were doing it ourselves. One day, unbeknownst to us, a crew came to help us…and what a surprise. They did everything that was needed. We pulled up old carpet, tore down some walls, cleaned floors. It was great fellowship and what a blessing. If someone is remodeling, show up to help. If someone is landscaping, help, show up.
Often, we say to someone “…come visit us sometime…” they will never do it. As a pastor, I wanted to know when people were in the hospital. Do you think that anyone would call me? No, you usually found out they had been in the hospital, but they never told you and you had to hear it from someone else. Now don’t get me wrong…. they will help you and be there when there is a need, but they do it on their own. What I am saying is you and I should be that way too, we know something in some way we can help, then do and don’t wait for an invite.
How do you reach people like this? I think it goes back to finding people who are interested. If God works in their heart to hear the gospel, listen to the radio, attend a service, then you can depend on them having an interest and following through. But more than that, it seems that we have to be interested enough to keep working with them.
On one occasion I went to an auction and a man was there I had been witnessing to. He needed a refrigerator; I needed a refrigerator. I let him buy it (I didn’t bid against him, but I really wanted that refrigerator) and then offered to help him take it home. There I met his wife and family, invited them to church and they got saved and have been faithful ever since. We can’t reach people without expending ourselves to meet other’s needs.
Our Lord showed his interest in others by feeding the 4000 and the 5000. He knew if they went away, they would not come back. But more than that, he gave to them what they needed. First physical food, then spiritual food. See the principle? Help with other’s needs. Fix a tire, haul some water, mow a lawn. Learn what talent you have, then use it for the Lord. He will bring people along that you can help.
One day at the door in going door to door in Cheyenne, I invited a lady to church. Talked to her briefly through the screen. Saying, “we need to thank the Lord for his provision.” she said, what provision. Quickly, coming from Iowa I said “rain.” Her reply was, “…. don’t need the rain, have the irrigation ditch.” Of course, the argument would be where does the water in the ditch come from, but that was not the point, the point was, “I don’t need God, we are self-sufficient.”
Think about how you can help someone that you know needs help and in so doing, reach them with the truth of the gospel. I have no idea who you know that needs help. Here is where you do what God tells you to do and it will come out right. Know a person you can share a meal with. Don’t take them out to a restaurant, call and say: “We are bringing supper over tomorrow night, don’t fix anything, we have it all. Don’t drop it off and say enjoy! Sit with them and eat it too. (Now comes the arguments you start giving: Maybe they don’t want a meal, maybe they won’t like what we fix; maybe we would be imposing; maybe you just don’t want to go out of your way to reach them!)
To “Win the West” for Christ, we must learn to go out of our way!
Next week we will talk about how to get around to discussing what your main goal is… giving them the message of the gospel. Thanks for listening!
Harvey Seidel recently retired as the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Thermopolis where he had pastored for 26 years. Before Thermopolis, he was the founder and director of Baptist Church Planting West where he spent 30 years in Church planting all over the West. Bible teaching and expository preaching define the pulpit ministry of Pastor Seidel. Making the Bible both real and practical is his goal in ministry