LOCAL CHURCH REACHES OUT TO A LOST COMMUNITY!

I have just returned from a glorious week of outreach at Fellowship Baptist Church in Steinhatchee, FL. My heart has been both encouraged and exhilarated, because of their new pastor’s desire and determination to evangelize this needy community. Steinhatchee is well known for fishing, scalloping and crabbing. However, it is also a tragic fact that well over 30% of their population lives below the poverty level. That is obviously far above the average of the rest of the state of Florida. Oh, but Pastor Jeremy Tatum sees this physical poverty as a tremendous evangelistic opportunity to reach out to the spiritually poor! The following words are the personal testimony of Pastor Jeremy:

 “Bro. Ed Lacy has been coming to minister to Fellowship Baptist Church of Steinhatchee for 10 years. But this past week was the first time that I personally sat under his teaching. It was a tremendous blessing to my life! Bro. Ed kicked off the week by preaching about the terrible tragedy of being “Christianized; but not converted”! This was a wonderfully challenging message, which caused the people to examine themselves. Each message that followed seemed to build upon the previous one. In each sermon, the gospel message was clear and relevant. Sinners were called to repentance and Christ-followers were admonished to examine themselves.

Our church has been reaching out to the multitudes of ‘the lost and poor within our community’, through our food pantry ministry. It serves as a means for us to proclaim the gospel ‘one on one’, to those who come to receive food. On Wednesday evening, we offered a free spaghetti dinner to all of those who we are ministering to at the food pantry. God blessed us with a tremendous attendance from the community on that final evening. It was especially encouraging that many people, who attended the service, were powerfully impacted. They heard a clear and powerful presentation of the Gospel. We saw the Holy Spirit bring sinners under conviction. I believe that God will use this evening of evangelistic outreach to accomplish His purpose in the salvation of many souls. As a matter of fact, I am very excited to hit the streets and go door to door, in follow-up of this wonderful week of outreach!

 

During our time with Bro. Ed, many seeds were planted and watered. Sinners were confronted with their desperate condition and their urgent need for the Lord Jesus. Furthermore, the body of Christ at Fellowship Baptist Church was edified, admonished and encouraged. Even my wife, (who was baptized as a young child, but not truly converted until a few years ago), has expressed her desire to be obedient and follow her Savior in believer’s baptism. Additionally, a 83 year-old man from our congregation also wishes to be obedient to the Lord in believer’s baptism. For he has come to realize that he was not converted until 3 years ago, when Bro. Ed taught his ‘Christcentered Discipleship’ study. I can gladly say that it was an honor to have him fill the pulpit at Fellowship. We are assured that the people of God were greatly benefited. As a matter of fact, the people are still talking about what a blessing it was! We cannot wait until next year’s meeting!”

GOD’S TRUTH EXTENDED THROUGH HIS ANSWER TO THE PRAYERS OF A DESPERATELY NEEDY PREACHER!

I have been graced with the precious privilege of preaching the Word of God in 20 different nations, as well as in 25 different languages. It is quite amazing that I have always been blessed with tremendous interpreters, in every one of these approximately 170 foreign mission adventures. There has never been a problem with the translation of the message, UNTIL THIS TRIP! However, I realized in the very first session of teaching, that the young man who was my interpreter, although well intentioned, was struggling to translate the teachings correctly. He must have asked me to ‘repeat my statements’, on at least a hundred different occasions, during that first day. Additionally, the more that he struggled in his interpreting work, the more nervous he became. Friends, it was extremely frustrating to me, as well as to the room full of pastors who were attempting to listen and learn. I was preaching in 90º heat. I was preaching on the other side of the world; so this meant that I was preaching throughout the night, as far as my body clock was concerned. And now, this young man was failing to rightly communicate the truths that I longed for these spiritual leaders to grasp. At the conclusion of that opening day, my mind and heart were being severely tempted to be torn-apart by care, concern and discouragement. On that first evening, I fell on my knees, in the place where I was staying, and began to call out to the Lord. This needy preacher was desperately crying out to my Father to, “please be GRACIOUS and MERCIFUL to us”. For here I was, on the other side of the planet, without a competent interpreter.

 My heart went out to this young man, for I knew that he too had realized that he was not up to the task! I also knew that, if it was at all possible, we needed to make a change of interpreters the next day. For the most important reality that must occur, is for these Indian pastors and evangelists to receive a clear and concise interpretation of the vital truths, which are contained in “Christ-centered Evangelism”. However, I had absolutely no idea where we would find an interpreter, or who could accomplish this daunting task. As we began the next morning’s teachings, I noticed that there was a pastor on the 2nd row, who was repeatedly and faithfully correcting the young interpreter. Not only was this older pastor correcting the interpreter in English, he was also employing theological terms in his corrections. Upon the conclusion of that session, I hurried outside to attempt to speak with this brother. For both the young interpreter and everyone else in the congregation knew that we needed another interpreter, who would be equipped to fulfill this great need! As I talked with this older pastor, he informed me that, he had been a professional interpreter for a number of years! He also had earned three master’s degrees in theology! Moreover, he was presently studying for his doctorate! Immediately I asked him, “Would you be willing to be my interpreter for the rest of the week”? I am so grateful to testify that he responded with these words, “I would be honored to”! Then I asked him, “By the way, what is your name?” He introduced himself with a name that I will never forget. He replied, “My name is GRACIOUS!” Oh, my dear friends, our faithful Provider had been GRACIOUS to answer the prayers of this desperately needy preacher! The new interpreter was absolutely excellent. The Spirit of God united us as one. God graced both of us with a precious liberty and the manifested power of the Spirit of the Lord! Furthermore, the young man, who was my first interpreter, sat on the front row with a smile of thanksgiving and relief!

 I was absolutely amazed to witness the mighty work of our Lord in the midst of these pastors from the state of Kerala! There was a tremendous teachability, a holy humility and a sweeping repentance, which consumed these spiritual leaders. Even though they had been in doctrinal error, (both in their message and methods of evangelism), they exhibited an openness to the correction of the scriptures. When I would speak on a particular area, in which they had fallen into doctrinal or practical inaccuracy, GRACIOUS would begin to weep as he interpreted God’s corrective teaching! As a direct result, the Spirit of God would employ his “broken and contrite heart” to literally sweep through the congregation of spiritual leaders. When I returned home from the Trivandrum conference, I was greeted by the following words of testimony from our dear brother GRACIOUS.

He writes, “Our Lord has given the pastors of the state of Kerala a tremendous New Year’s gift, through our beloved Ed Lacy. God sent him to the state of Kerala to equip us to be both ‘biblical and fruitful’ in our evangelistic mission in India. Even though I have been a ‘mission driven believer’ since 1989, I realized that I had been wrongly taught, concerning many aspects of evangelism! My teacher was a well-meaning teacher. However, he and many others were teaching us many unscriptural things, in relation to both the message that we are to proclaim and the methods that we are to employ! Our Indian preachers and teachers were being taught a ‘Heaven-centered message’, from American preachers who had come to train us. I am sad to say that we Indians are tempted to assume that, ‘if something comes to us from America, then it must be good and right’! However, there have been many doctrines and methodologies that have come to us from the U.S. that had been neither good nor right! For we discovered that the message that we were being taught to proclaim was nothing more than an enticement for people to go to Heaven. We were absolutely shaken with the discovery that the biblical Gospel message does not put the spotlight on a place. The authentic Gospel proclamation places its main focus on the Person and the work of our Lord Jesus Christ! The Spirit of God revealed that we had been critically wrong in both our message and our methods. Consequently, we had also been guilty of deceiving and damaging many souls. These biblical truths were there, before us, the entire time. But we were listening to man-made traditions, instead of carefully examining the instruction manual, in light of the clear teachings of the Word of God! But we have all turned away from our ‘heaven-centered message and our humanly invented techniques and tactics’. We have returned to the biblical ‘Christ-centered message’ that was proclaimed in the Book of Acts. We have committed to employ only God’s ordained means to carry out God’s mission. Bro. Ed, we will never be the same! For our evangelism has been mightily transformed; and we are all eternally grateful.”