hank you for calling Jesus 2000. This is Pat. How can
I pray with you?
Pat was answering her first call as a telephone encourager.
After a moment, the caller said, I just have to find a way to get rid of
this hole in my life.
Youve come to the right place, Pat responded, and in the next half hour she
discussed with Marge how Jesus could fill that hole.
Ralph picked up the phone, thrilled about the news he was bursting to share
with his brother, halfway across the continent.
After brief chitchat, Ralph got to the point: James, something great has
happened, and Ive just got to tell you about it. Remember how we used to wonder
about all that church stuffwell, its real! A few weeks ago I decided to follow
Jesus Christ, and its the best thing thats ever happened to me. Let me tell you
outhern Baptists have an opportunity to use the
telephone in evangelism through the Evangelism Response Center (ERC) of the
North American Mission Board. The ERC provides a network of believers trained
to communicate the message of Jesus Christ through the telephone and the
Internet. From the comfort and privacy of their own homes Telephone Encouragers
(TEs) and Internet Encouragers (IEs) share Christ with seeking people. Southern
Baptist churches covenant with the ERC to provide follow-up for people in their
area who make spiritual decisions on the telephone or through the Internet.
A TE must be a Christian and an active member of a Southern Baptist church
in the United States or Canada, a growing disciple, a caring friend, and at
least 18 years of age and not a current high school student. A two-hour
training session offers information about qualifications, preparation,
connecting to the system, sharing the gospel by telephone, focusing the call,
handling difficult situations and reporting. For more information, to schedule
a TE training in your area, or for information about how your church can become
a Covenant Church and receive referrals from calls and Internet responses,
contact the ERC office in Fort Worth, telephone 817-570-1410, email email@example.com, fax 817-570-1469; 6350 West Freeway,
Fort Worth, Texas 76116. For information about Internet Encouragers contact
Siam Rogers via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sues heart ached as Rachels despair over her marriage spilled out during a
long-distance call. Rachel had moved out of state a year ago, but she and Sue
still talked often on the phone. Today, as Rachel poured out her agony, Sue
knew she needed to get to the real
heart of the matter.
After silently asking God to give her the right words she said, Rachel, I
want you to have the same kind of peace Ive found in hard times. Wont you let
Jesus take you through thisand everything else in life? He wont make the pain
go away, but He will go through it with you and help to make it bearable. Let
me tell you how you can have Him in your life.
The telephone. Nearly everyone has oneor more than one, judging by the
recent proliferation of area codes. We use our telephone to order pizza, keep
in touch, confirm plans, reserve theater tickets, discuss business. But how
often do we consider it as an effective tool for evangelism?
Usually when we think of evangelism we imagine someone preaching an
impassioned sermon in a stadium, or we envision a person sharing the gospel
face to face with one other person. Mass evangelism will always have a place,
and face-to-face evangelism may always be the most effective way of sharing the
Yet the telephone can be an important resource for our on mission lifestyle.
At the beginning of this article we eavesdropped on two examples of
intentional telephone evangelism
(Pat witnessing to strangers who call an evangelism helpline, Ralph sharing his
faith with his brother) and one example of incidental telephone evangelism (Sue
responding to the anguish expressed by her friend). Whats the difference?
Intentional telephone evangelism. This is more proactive. You
deliberately use the telephone to talk about Christ to someone who doesnt know
Him as Lord and Savior. A few tips for success:
Consider volunteering for a phone ministry.
Plan how you want to share the gospel. Have a witnessing tract handy, even
if you dont follow it precisely. Having an outline helps to keep you on track,
especially on the telephone.
If you initiate the call, set up the sharing with your usual level of
friendly conversation. Introduce your story about why you place your trust in
Christ into the natural flow of your conversation.
Dont allow yourself to be distracted by the callers rambling, arguing or
distress. Stay focused on your purpose of helping the caller find the needed
answers in Jesus.
Incidental telephone evangelism. This is more reactive. Maybe when you
least expect it, an on mission opportunity presents itself during a phone
Be alert for chances to share the gospel on the phone, just as you would in
person. In the course of a fairly routine business or personal phone
conversation, does your caller reveal a crisis, a question about values,
admiration for your ability to handle difficult situations?
Make a statement of faith even when telephone time is limited or the
non-confidential setting limits your ability to share the gospel more
completely. Even just telling your telephone partner Im praying for you can
open the way for a more complete discussion about Christ later.
Both intentional and incidental telephone evangelismsome calls have
elements of both.
Stay real. Whether youre talking to a stranger, friend or family member, you
need to care genuinely just to
earn the right to share Jesus.
Dont be discouraged if your talk about faith doesnt result in the other
persons receiving Christ. Just be faithful in sharing your faith, and leave the
results to God.
Try to arrange for follow-up by personal contacteither by you when
appropriate, or by a local church. What you have done on the telephone is
great, but on-going support is essential.
There it sitsthat instrument you pick up most days. The telephone cannot be
an evangelist. It can be a tool in your hand for evangelism.
God asked Moses, Whats that in your hand? Then He transformed a rod first
into a snake and then into an instrument to be used for the delivery of Israel
from Egypt. A simple rod became a powerful tool in the hand of Gods servant.
Will you pick up the telephone and use it as an instrument of evangelism?
Joy Neal, Ph.D., is a decision counseling associate for the North
American Mission Board, sharing in the responsibility of coordinating NAMBs
Evangelism Response Center.
A Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program and theAnnie Armstrong Easter Offering® ©Copyright 2013 North American Mission Board, SBC