It’s amazing the sort of impact one book can have. 20 years ago, in 1997, the book The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus was published. At the time, author John R. Cross and the men working with him had no idea that it would be the catalyst for a global ministry and how many people would come to faith in Christ through it. It was just one book with a simple message: a straightforward, systematic presentation of the gospel from creation to the cross.
The writing of The Stranger was drawn from decades of missionary experience of those working among tribal people in Papua New Guinea and elsewhere. These tribes, previously unevangelised and ignorant of the Bible’s message, responded well to a chronological presentation of the gospel. So well, in fact, that whole villages were putting their faith in Christ, without the age-old problems of syncretism and “rice Christians.” When the Bible was presented from creation to Christ, it made profound sense. The people would understand and believe. Lives were transformed.
But was it only tribal groups who responded so well to the creation-to-Christ method? What about the Western world? As John and his colleagues interacted with people back home in North America and around the world, they realized that some of these people were just as ignorant of the Bible as the tribal people. They knew nothing about God. They didn’t understand who Jesus was and why he came. We live, for the most part, in a post-Christian culture.
The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus was, in a sense, an experiment. It was a book that used the same method that had proven so effective with tribal groups—a chronological approach to explaining the gospel—except this time for the Western world. It was designed so that it could be given away or used to guide people to a clear understanding of the Bible. But would it be relevant and effective?
In Using the Worldview Survey, Part I: Sharing the gospel when time is short, we shared how the Worldview Survey questions can be used as a springboard to sharing the gospel when you only have a short time with an individual (perhaps in a waiting room, interacting with a door-to-door salesman, or in a street evangelism context). In this second article, we share more specifically on how you can use the questions to discover the beliefs of the individual before moving on to share the gospel.
The conversation was going so smoothly. The young woman in front of me seemed to be eagerly digesting each point I made as I walked her through the gospel message. She was nodding her head, agreeing with me when I’d ask her questions and assuring me she understood. Great! Next up, the sinner’s prayer, right? We’d been conversing for some time when she finally began to open up more about her own worldview, extinguishing my optimism. Apparently she was exploring a pagan religion. She worshipped the earth. She wasn’t terribly bothered by her sin. Surely God could be expressed in many forms and there were many ways to seek him.
It was surprising to me that she could both agree with what I’d been saying, while at the same time hold to these very opposing viewpoints. She was, by definition, a post-modern thinker.
As she walked away from me a little later, I realized that I’d spent a long time sharing the gospel to a woman who did not have the foundations in place to understand it. While I knew God could still bless and use my feeble efforts, surely I could be more effective if I’d had an idea of the worldview of my listener before I dove into sharing the Bible’s message.
I realized I needed a method of quickly determining one’s worldview and finding a way to discern their true understanding of the Bible’s message, so that I could know how to proceed with the truths of the gospel
The Worldview Survey (originally published in the book And Beginning with Moses), a list of nine simple and objective questions, is designed to give a person a good idea of what their student believes. It’s a helpful tool for many situations, but especially handy if you’re not sure how to approach sharing the gospel with an individual or what tool would suit them best.
Five full days of street evangelism! Under normal circumstances, if someone had suggested this idea as a potential evangelistic pursuit, my response would have been, “No thanks! Not for me!” However, here I was in a large van heading to the big city. My husband, Troy, and I were the designated leaders, no less, for a dozen or so college-aged students. And we’d be standing on a street corner in no time at all, attempting to get into deep spiritual conversations with all kinds of scary strangers.
The first day went by much as I expected. Many were closed to hearing about the Lord, a few were willing to get into a discussion and most walked by completely indifferent. That week on bustling city streets was quite the adventure, arming us with stories and experiences that still effect our approach to sharing the gospel when time is short.
Even if you never participate in street evangelism, it’s good to be prepared for the moment when you have a quick opportunity to share the Bible’s message with a passing stranger. Your brief opportunity may come while sitting in front of your hairdresser, or with the salesperson at the door, or while you’re passing time in a waiting room. No matter the scenario, there are certain common obstacles that brief interactions present, as well as good ideas to navigate those obstacles.
Ken and Maryanne Stacey* are a couple of volunteers who live in an area with a high volume of internationals who desire to learn English. They are often in contact with a mostly male population from the 10/40 Window of Asia.
For the last 12 years, the couple has been effective by simply befriending the internationals who came to study English. Maryanne said, “We do what we as believers would consider to be normal kindnesses and then let them see the love we have for them. [They often] start to wonder why we love them when there is no ‘payback’ for us. All through this process we are open about our faith in Jesus, and we are looking for open doors to conversation about him.”
And often those doors do open. Maryanne says that when that happens, she and Ken gladly share the good news of the gospel with their “sons.” But it’s not necessarily a simple matter to do so. Many of those they interact with come from cultures very hostile to the gospel. For them to be seen with a Bible or any Christian literature could invite persecution.
So the Staceys have discovered that quietly passing Christian materials to these men via thumb drives is very effective. The couple is even careful to use a flash drive that looks discreet, so as to not draw unnecessary attention to their method of relaying the materials. In this way, they have passed on Bibles, Christian teaching, and more recently, All that the Prophets have Spoken, GoodSeed’s tool written specifically to those from an Islamic cultural background.
Our translation teams have worked on these two books for a number of years. Though there were challenges and occasions when the work had to halt, we’re thankful they are now ready to be used in discipleship and evangelism.
Additionally, these other translations are now completed:
The faint sound of the Muslim call to prayer from Bethlehem’s mosque blended curiously with the warbling of a bird outside the open window. Nasir’s* fingers hovered over the computer keyboard. He looked at the screen and read what he had written so far:
“Dear sir, I am so honoured and glad that you wrote to me. What I said about the book was not just nice comments. It was the truth.”
Now how to articulate just what he felt. He thought back to when he had first received a copy of All that the Prophets have Spoken. He remembered meeting Dale at a wedding of a mutual friend. They got to talking about how Nasir had come to Christ. As a parting gift, Dale gave him a copy of All the Prophets, saying it was written with the Islamic worldview in mind. This immediately tweaked Nasir’s interest. While Nasir had not been raised Muslim, he lived in the West Bank, in the heart of the Middle East, and knew from experience that reaching Muslims with the gospel was a challenging task.
Today, we’re excited to announce the launch of two new resources: All that the Prophets have Spoken Interactive Edition and All that the Prophets have Spoken Leader’s Guide.
All that the Prophets have Spoken Interactive Edition
As the influence of Islam becomes more widespread, we meet more Muslims. But how do we communicate with them the central message of the Scriptures? While it is true that many Old Testament stories are mentioned in the Quran and that it refers to some of the same prophets, there are significant differences in interpretation and understanding.
While the book is packaged with an accompanying DVD, we recognize that many people have smartphones and tablets. We wanted to marry the effectiveness of video with the convenience of watching on a mobile device. So now, readers will have a choice of watching the video clips on DVD or on their smart devices.
Editor’s note: One of our GoodSeed staff recently interviewed Veronica,* who spends much of her time teaching English as a second language (ESL) and doing evangelism Bible studies with Asian international students at a large state university. So, how does she do it?!
Read this inspiring interview that is chock-full of typical examples of how GoodSeed tools are used to lead people to a clear understanding of the Bible…
Like every other country in the world, Togo, West Africa, desperately needs to hear a clear Gospel. 70% are animist, 10% Muslim, and 20% “Christian”. Confusion abounds even among many who call themselves Christians. Many have given their businesses names like “Jesus Loves You Pizzeria,” “Thanks to God Bar,” “Jesus Saves Grocery,” yet relatively few have a clear understanding of the Gospel.
In the summers of 2003 and 2004, some of us were privileged to hold several TERM seminars for Christians in Togo. We taught through the French version of All that the Prophets have Spoken. The seminars included teaching the believers how to use simple, indigenous visual aids—which serve to grab and hold people’s attention, as well as strengthen their understanding and retention of God’s story and message.