Encouragement for the Discouraged Evangelist
We’ve all been there—on our knees before the Lord, questioning our call as an evangelist. The funds are tight, our board is frustrating us, and the opportunities for ministry seem scarce. Have you been there? Are you there now?
When I am discouraged as an evangelist, I always look to God’s Word for encouragement and often find myself in Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When we are weak, He is strong. In times of discouragement, fall into the arms of your Savior Jesus and trust Him. Here are a few things I have learned that have helped me in times of discouragement, and I pray they will help you as well:
God is faithful. 1 Thessalonians 5:24 says, “The One who calls you is faithful, and He will do it.” Yes, the Lord is faithful. He called you as an evangelist and you need to trust Him to see you through. I love how Paul finishes this verse “… He will do it!” God is going to get you through this difficult time. Remember this will pass. Stay close to Jesus and trust Him!
The evangelist must persevere. Charles Swindoll once said this about the minister of the Gospel not giving up. “Stand still… and refuse to retreat. Look at it as God looks at it and draw upon His power to hold up under the blast.” Charles Spurgeon, as well, echoed these words to the persevering evangelist: “Many men owe the grandeur of their lives to their tremendous difficulties.” When I feel discouraged, I often ask the Lord two questions: One, Lord, what do you want to teach me during this time? Two, Lord, how can I grow as an evangelist and follower of You during this tough time? My friends, I truly believe that God is more concerned with what He is doing in you than through you. In tough times, the Lord can draw us closer to Himself and mold and shape us like Jesus.
The evangelist must live by faith. Earlier, I mentioned the importance of going to the Lord in prayer and His Word during times of discouragement. I believe the key is living by faith. Another passage I often turn to is Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” Paul also tells the church at Philippi in Philippians 4:19, “And my God will meet all your needs according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.” And finally, Hebrews 11:6 says, “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Living by faith isn’t easy, but it is essential for the evangelist. When you feel discouraged or like giving up, remember God saved you, called you, loves you, and He will see you through. Trust Him!
You are not alone. The life of the evangelist can be very lonely. I have several friends who are evangelists, and they have often told me how lonely they feel. I, too, have had moments of loneliness, but we need to be reminded that we are not alone. God has raised up other evangelists in whom we can confide and trust as friends and partners in the Gospel. If you don’t already, I encourage you to have mentors and accountability partners who are evangelists. They can encourage you. You are not alone. Remember when Jesus gave the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. He reminded the disciples that He would be with them “… Always, even to the end of the age.” It’s true for you and me, as well. Jesus is with us always. We have the Holy Spirit to work in and through us. The Father loves us and will always be there for us! As evangelists, we may feel alone at times, but we are never alone. Jesus loves us and has called us to preach His Good News to as many people as possible, as long as we have breath. My friends, in times of discouragement, turn to the Lord in prayer, His Word, and fellow evangelists for encouragement. It takes a team to reach the world.
I’ll close with this story. I was in Africa in an area extremely hostile to the Gospel. Our team was holding the first citywide festival in over 25 years due to persecution. This city was known to be opposed to Jesus and His Gospel. I’ll never forget that night at the festival. I had just preached the Good News and was calling people forward to give their lives to Jesus. Right at the invitation, about 400 men came forward, yelling and shaking their fists at me. They rushed toward me, loudly yelling and banging on walls across the street from the festival. I honestly thought I was going to be killed. I was so discouraged to see this happen, especially during the invitation for people to be saved. As I stood on the stage completely discouraged, a boy came up to me. He was about 12 years old, which was the exact age of my son Azlan at the time. The boy handed me a note (which I still have today) that said in perfect English, “Never give up!”
My friends, we must never give up! No matter what you face in your life and ministry, I want to encourage you to never give up. Stay close to Jesus, live by faith, and remember He who called you is faithful. Keep doing “the work of an evangelist!” Together, let’s reach as many people as possible … All for Jesus!