I waited apprehensively at the entrance to the platform as I stood behind the lead pastor. He was training me in my first assignment as an assistant pastor. Earlier, he had informed me that at any moment, I should be ready to preach or die. As we prepared to step on the platform, I didn’t know if he or I would preach. As we started to walk out on the platform, he told me, “You’re preaching this morning.” I didn’t know which I would do: preach or die.
While the congregation was singing, I attempted to prepare myself mentally and emotionally. Having been forewarned that this might happen, I had prepared a message and kept the notes “just in case.” Now, it was actually happening – and the Lord helped me through this first of several similar experiences over the next few months.
The pastor wanted to keep me on my toes. The “mother” church, where the pastor served, had many little country church “preaching points” scattered through this rural South Louisiana area in the 1960s. All of them needed ministry. So, my wife and I (we were married in the middle of this five-month assistant pastor tenure) went out to minister in each of these preaching points. Sometimes, there were two or three different churches each week. I preached at each church, and we conducted Vacation Bible School at some of them. At the end of our first three months of marriage, we counted only six nights that we had to ourselves without a preaching or teaching engagement.
But it was all good preparation for the next church where I would pastor after a few months. 1 Peter 3:15 commands, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and BE READY ALWAYS to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” We should always be looking for and be ready for opportunities to tell people about Jesus.
As retired, elderly persons now, we don’t get out as much as we used to. But there are always opportunities. When we eat out, we prepare by carrying a unique “thank you” gospel message tract to give our waitperson along with a tip. Lately, we have needed repair persons at our home. These repair persons give us several opportunities to witness. Also, In our neighborhood, opportunities to minister and to witness develop.
So whether at home or going out in public to eat or to shop, we need to be prepared with gospel tracts and a ready mind and heart to give out the gospel.
Like Paul, we should pray and also ask people to pray for us “that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ.’ (Colossians 4:3).
Jesus, in Matthew 9:36-38, had compassion on the multitudes as sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to the disciples, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest that he will send forth laborers into his harvest.” In chapter 10, he sent out into the harvest the very same ones He had asked to pray for laborers.
The time is short. The need is stupendous. The urgency is overwhelming. Are you ready to do your part in giving out the gospel message?