Torch, Fall 1978

I I I· 6 .THE BASIS OF BOLDNESS Harold Green The story is told of a primary-age boywho had to recite a short verse for a Sunday School program. His line was very simple: "It is I, be not afraid." He stood paralyzed with fear, opened his mouth, and not one word came out. Finally, with all the inner power he could muster, he blurted out: "It's me, and I'm scared!" How often this is the experience of the Christian who is faced with the opportunity to be a witness for Christ. We may never admit it, but we all have experienced that initial fear. In my years of working with students at Cedarville College, I have discovered that fear can be overcome when we realize God has been preparing the way as we take on the responsibility of evangelism. The college provides many opportunities for its students to experience the joy of witnessing for Christ and, in so doing, to overcome many of their natural fears. Out of these varied ministries have come many illustrations of students who have experienced the enabling work of the Holy Spirit and have overcome fear. Fifty-thousand college and high school students crowded the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale during this year's spring break. For the ninth year, Itook a group of Cedarville students to reach those thousands through Beach Evangelism. During our daily Bible study and prayer time, the team members asked one another to "pray that I'll have boldness." Let's be honest-that translated is "I'm scared!" But as those students went out and began sharing their faith with other young people, those fears melted as they discovered that the Holy Spirit had been preparing the way. This is vividly illustrated in the case of a graduate student from a school here in Ohio who was approached by one of our students on the beach.The Cedarville College student hesitantly opened the conversation with an expression of concern for what was taking place in our country. That remark immediately created an opening to witness. It turned out the boy to whom he was talking had recently gone to the movies and ended up in a theater where the film "The Late Great Planet Earth" was being shown. As a result, he had been challenged to think about the events and problems of our world to the point that he was troubled and had real unrest in his soul. His heart having been prepared for a personal application of the gospel message, there on the beach he received Christ as his Saviour. Not only does God work in the lives of those to whom we witness, He also prepares us for the task. This summer one of our freshman students had the joy of seeing how God had prepared her in a practical and effective way. She was serving on a music evangelism team to Brazil under the Missionary Internship Service (M.l.S.) program. Although she had taken only one year of high school Portuguese, the language seemed to come easily to her. On the fourth day of the tour, the team was asked to sing in a "night club," which was actually a simple building in the center of town where young people spent their free time. Following the program, the young missionary found herself mingling with a group curious about the group's message. One young man in particular was interested in what had been said in the message and songs. When he discovered that one of the team spoke a little Portuguese, He immediately began asking her questions. Suddenly she had to go beyond "Good evening, we're really glad you came to our service tonight" to try to communicate clearly the message of Christ as a personal Saviour. The thrill was that she found she could communicate with the young man. The excitement she had over the discovery that she could witness directly to the people was evident by the way she tackled every opportunity that followed. Was she scared? Naturally. Imagine the trouble if she had said the wrong things. Did she think she could do it? Not really. But she had discovered that God had been preparing her for this ministry. From then on, while the rest of the team was huddled around a translator, there she was, talking to people about Christ in their own language. Other ministries also give opportunity for our students to experience God's power over fear and the joy of being used of Him. All the contacts are not successful, but all serve as a challenge. One of our young men involved in a jail ministry had the privilege to talk with an inmate who had been convicted of a serious crime. Our student was as nervous about witnessing as most are, but he had asked God to give him boldness to speak openly about the Word of God and salvation. The first week the prisoner was not interested, which made communication difficult. During the following week, the team prayed that the prisoner would still be there when they returned and that his heart would be open to the gospel. The team rejoiced when they found he was not only there, but willing to talk. The plan of salvation was clearly presented, but when the opportunity to receive Christ was given, he hesitated, saying he was not ready. Our student cautioned him not to put a decision off as none of us are sure what lies ahead. The prisoner responded: "True for you, but I'm here for a long time." When the time was up and our team had to leave, the inmate was still unsaved. On the following Wednesday morning, when the jailer was making his rounds, the young man who, as far as we know, never received Christ, was found dead. Evidently he had