HYDERABAD, INDIA CHRIST-CENTERED EVANGELISM CONFERENCE FOR PASTORS

The year of 2016 began with our Lord gracing me with the opportunity to teach my workbook entitled, ‘Christcentered Evangelism’, to 100 pastors in the capital city of the state of Telangana, which is called Hyderabad, India. Telangana is one of the 29 states within the vast nation of India. These precious pastors travelled from as far as 300 kilometers, to give a week of their time to study the word of God, concerning this essential theme of biblical evangelism. This means that the workbook was translated into its 9th language for this conference! I was well aware that there are certain forces, within the government and religious circles of India, who could easily have attempted to disrupt this conference. As a matter of fact, there were multiple attacks of persecution against Christian pastors and churches, which were occurring simultaneously in other cities, even as I was teaching this group of spiritual leaders. For this reason, I did not want to give the specific logistics of the conference in advance.

The Spirit of God graced all of us with an awesome ‘touch of a reformation revival’, in these precious days! These pastors were so hungry, so teachable and so quick to repent. The Spirit of Truth revealed areas of their evangelism where their needed to be personal repentance and reformation in their methods and their message! You may be surprised to know that there are MANY unbiblical traditions, techniques and tactics that have infiltrated the evangelical churches in India, concerning both the methods and the message of biblical evangelism. The ‘Christ-centered Evangelism’ study continually calls these leaders to return fully to the instructional manual, for the purpose of “Doing God’s work; God’s way; for God’s glory”. It was astounding to hear that many of the pastors were staying up ALL NIGHT, (for the first couple of nights), as they wrestled with the realization that they had been using unbiblical, man-invented methods and even felt-need centered messages, to attempt to carry out God’s great mission. And yet, they were absolutely focused and attentive everyday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m., as I taught these truths. I am so thankful to say that, ‘they searched the scriptures’, to discover if what they were hearing was biblical; then, having seen that it was biblical, they were publicly repenting of attempting to do God’s work in man-concocted schemes and strategies and felt-need centered messages!

I want to praise our awesome God for His mighty illuminating work in their hearts, their minds, their lives and their evangelism. It was absolutely glorious to teach these life-transforming truths and to personally witness the Holy Spirit’s powerful illumination and renovation in their lives. I am already hearing reports that there is “much fruit that remains”, as these pastors return to their various churches and multiply these truths in the lives of their church members. As always, God supplied the funds to feed these pastors 3 meals a day; pay for their workbooks; pay for their bus tickets; give them a place to stay; as well as cover all of the other possible expenses for this conference.

I want to praise our awesome God for His mighty illuminating work in their hearts, their minds, their lives and their evangelism. It was absolutely glorious to teach these life-transforming truths and to personally witness the Holy Spirit’s powerful illumination and renovation in their lives. I am already hearing reports that there is “much fruit that remains”, as these pastors return to their various churches and multiply these truths in the lives of their church members. As always, God supplied the funds to feed these pastors 3 meals a day; pay for their workbooks; pay for their bus tickets; give them a place to stay; as well as cover all of the other possible expenses for this conference.

However friends, God supplies these needs through brothers and sisters in Christ, who joyfully and sometimes sacrificially give for the purpose of supplying all of the various aspects for these international conferences. My passion has always been to pay for all of the possible expenses that a pastor may need to attend a conference like this. These international pastors and church planters live on very little income. In view of this, we only ask that the pastor give of his time to come under the truths of God’s Word! I truly believe that foreign missions is ‘far more than only sending people to other nations’. On the contrary, foreign missions should be focused on sending ‘TRUTH IGNITED BY THE SPIRIT, THROUGH DISCIPLES’, to other nations! Friends, I want to express my deep appreciation for all of you who prayed for this conference.

Always be Ready to Give an Answer - I Peter 3:14b-15

In 1 Peter 3:14b-15, we find this mandate to each disciple of Jesus. “…And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled. But sanctify the Lord in your hearts, and always be ready to give an answer to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you; with meekness and fear.” Many of us face a certain fear and consternation, when we witness to an unconverted person who lives within our sphere of influence. We have all experienced that personal apprehension and anxiety, as we seek to proclaim the “bad news and the good news” to those whom we long to see converted to Christ. We live in a world of sinners who love the darkness of their self-centered lives and hate the light of a ‘Christ-centered life’. And yet, each of us are commanded to be light in the midst of that darkness, both through the life which we live and the message which we proclaim. We are given a command from our King, to take opportunities and make opportunities to give an answer for ‘our steadfast confidence of eternal life’. And we are well aware that the one and only answer is found in the glorious Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!

Please notice that Peter is not speaking to pastors, when He calls us to be faithful witnesses in the midst of a “light hating and darkness loving” world. He is speaking to every born again follower of Jesus Christ. He begins by saying do not fear the possible negative reactions and intimidation of sinners. We must not be afraid of how others may respond to us. For even if we suffer verbal persecution or social alienation for the Gospel’s sake, we are blessed by the Lord our God. Instead of fearing men, we must reverence the Lord in our hearts. Everyday that we live within our sphere of influence, we have a personal and practical choice to make. Are we going to fear men and their potential reactions and responses to our gospel witness? Or are we going to possess a holy fear of our Lord Jesus Christ and be ready to give an answer? We must always regard the displeasure of God as more fearful, than the prospect of being verbally or socially persecuted by sinners. Our Lord and Savior powerfully declared this sobering truth in Matthew 10:28, “And do not fear those who can kill the body but are unable to kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell”. If you pay careful attention to this verse, you will find that our Lord was speaking to His disciples, when He made this startling statement.

However you might think, “Ed, if I am a courageous and compassionate witness for Jesus, it will expose me to the verbal assaults of those sinners”! Dear disciple, Peter has already promised us that if we are persecuted for Jesus’ sake, we are blessed! He is certainly reiterating the teaching of our Lord Jesus in the beatitudes, when He says, “Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be exceedingly glad, for your reward in heaven is great”. The unconverted world was extremely hostile toward our Lord; consequently, if we publicly identify with Christ and fearlessly proclaim Jesus as Lord, there’s always the possibility that the world will be hostile toward us - (John 15:18-20). But God has left us here to be His ministers of reconciliation toward those who live within our circle of influence.

Hence, how do we faithfully carry out this great mission of being ardent ambassadors for our Lord Jesus Christ? Well, Peter continues on with this imperative to every follower of Jesus, by calling on us to “sanctify the Lord in your hearts”. Our Savior has bought the sovereign right to be Lord of every compartment of our lives. We must sanctify ‘Jesus as our Commander’ in the inner core of our being. (Continued on next page) STRIVING TO DO GOD’S WORK, GOD’S WAY, FOR GOD’S GLORY This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. (251) 660-8942 (251) 423-3528 WWW.EDLACYMINISTRIES.ORG MARCH 2016 2 One essential meaning of this word ‘sanctify’ is directing us to personally and purposefully set apart our lives unto the agendas of our Lord Jesus Christ. Of course, we are fully aware that our Lord’s great commission is a major part of His agenda for our lives. The apostle is actually echoing that great commission in the remainder of this passage. For Peter says, “Always be ready…”. He is saying that we must be willing and available to proclaim His saving message. However, being willing and available is not enough to fulfill this mission. We must also be equipped for this vital mission. And what is the task? He reminds us of the mission with these words, “to give an answer to every man”. He is calling on each one of us to be able to articulate a ‘Jesus-centered Gospel message’ of reconciliation; and to herald that message lovingly, humbly and biblically! God will give us open doors to declare His glorious gospel, if we will simply trust Him. To fear the possible response of sinners is to distrust and displease God. Consequently, we must reverence our Lord Jesus in our heart of hearts. Each of us must personally embrace the truth that, to distrust and displease our Lord is far more frightening than anything a lost sinner can say or do to us. Oh, may each one of us fear God and not men. May we all be ready, willing, available and equipped to give an answer concerning the Person of Jesus; the sinfulness of sinners; the glorious work of Jesus; and the conditions of our King, by which a person can enter into a saving union with Him!