And so today, pastor announces that we would be going for evangelism. My brother pre-warns me before we get to church, and watches carefully for my reaction. I’m kind enough to give him a piece of what he expects, and he good-naturedly rewards me with a hearty laugh.
It’s been a while I evangelized, and even so, only in the confines of school and its immediate environs. I belong to that class of people who realize that nothing should replace personal/ one-on-one evangelism. It’s not just enough to claim I’m writing about God, or singing gospel songs or acting Jesus-films, and then proclaim that I’m justified of Mark 16: 15. We love to get comfortable, don’t we?
I think I’m a bit rusty, so I try to mentally rehearse my self-developed skills at evangelizing. I ask God for utterance and pray for the people I was going to minister to. I never bother if they believe what I’m saying. That’s God’s part of the deal. He’d earlier said, “Faith comes by hearing the word.” He also said if I lifted Him, He’d draw all men to Himself. The Word has been trusted to transform a man, so obviously, that’s not my job! By default, when anyone turns me down, I don’t feel bad. What can I do? I only feel sorry for them.
So I begin to evangelize, and then I get to this man, Onyekachi, and when he opens his mouth to reveal his name, the offensive stench of cigarette [or maybe it’s ‘weed’ for I can hardly tell them apart (I simply group them together)], charges at me.
“Yes,” he replies when I ask him if he is a christian and if he is born-again (usually, we have to make the distinction in instances as this). “How do you know?” I probe further, and then I get blood-shot eyes gaze fully at me, perhaps suspiciously. I afford him the slightest smile, notice him ease, and then proceed to make the question more explicit. He doesn’t know how he knows he is born-again. As I begin to explain to him the Word of God, I notice his eyes become watery. He nods his head from time to time, and I believe he understands.
“If you have anything to make me stop to dey drink and smoke, just give me. Feel free. I wan stop. I drink and smoke too much.” he tells me when I pause. I go on to explain to him that I did not possess such powers, and that only God can cause a true transformation if he yields himself. He looks pathetic, so I tell him God has not condemned him, “In fact, if Jesus were to live in these times, He would hang out with you,” After which he looks less pathetic.
As I round off with him, in typical evangelism tradition, I asked for his phone number and address. He looks at me for a while and says he doesn’t like bringing out his phone in public. “Oh,” I assure him sweetly, “you don’t have to bring out your phone. Just your number…For follow up,” I offer hopefully.
He must consider himself generous indeed for he suddenly comes up with a bright idea, “Lemme have your number. I go call you, e hear.”
“Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat,” the alarm in my head goes off, and I stammer. “Emm, I may not be the one to call you. It may be the church secretary. As in, we are to call… I mean, get the numbers of everyone we speak to. Do you understand?” He brings out an ‘mtn’ wallet on which a number had been scribbled, and reads it out.
“Thank you for your time,” I tell him.
“I love you,” he responds.
After I speak with one or two other persons, I walk back down the street, and Onyekachi is pulling dedicatedly on a stick of cigarette. I wave at him and he waves back.
I thank God for the salvation of his soul.
Chinazar Okoro © 2011