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Archives / 2017 / February

 

Editorial: Love, listen, and lead

Robert Costa

 

There is nothing more disarming than the power of love. And this is especially true when presenting the gospel message to the world. “If I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1b, GW). As a pastor and evangelist, sharing the good news without love spells disaster.

When we love our audience, our churches, and those for whom we labor, they know it and respond. Love takes away all fear—in ourselves and in others—and allows us to present the full prophetic gospel message without fear, because love ultimately draws everyone to Jesus.

I have seen the power of love and compassion lead people to Jesus in every corner of the world. Let me share just a few of the stories I personally witnessed during an evangelistic series I held in Chile this past November:

Mario, the best known of the 33 miners rescued from a mine in Chile and portrayed in a film by Antonio Banderas, attended the series. He gave his testimony of how God and the Bible helped him during the 69 days in the bowels of the earth. He was overwhelmed by the love and support of our local church in Chile, and I have kept in touch with him and his wife, encouraging them in the study of Bible truths so they may experience true rescue.

Manuel, a high-profile engineer in the country, was given hours to live due to a failed liver transplant. One of our churches learned of his plight, and a group went to pray for him in the hospital. Miraculously, his body accepted the new liver, and he recovered. When I spoke to him during the series, he said, “All I can remember in my time of agony is a group of people praying for me.” He is now studying the Bible with another engineer from our church.

But the story doesn’t end there. One of the hospital volunteers, impressed by the love shown to Manuel, attended the series and was baptized the last Sabbath I was there. Ten of her friends from work attended her baptism in full hospital uniform and enrolled in Bible studies.

Daniel, a teenager who attends one of our schools, was led to Christ and baptized thanks to the unceasing work of the chaplains. He became a missionary in his home, bringing his mother, Elizabeth, to Christ. As she exited the baptismal pool, I asked Daniel, who stood next to her, “What’s next for you?” He replied without hesitation, “Now we go for our grandfather. He is next.”

Javier, a young architect who designed the central church in the city of Concepción, Chile, as well as the Adventist college in Talcahuano, after struggling each night with the biggest decision of his life, finally surrendered his heart to Jesus and was baptized on the last Friday of the series. His testimony was, “I want the Divine Architect from here on to do His work in me.”

Oscar, a pastor of six Pentecostal churches, attended the series every night. He has now decided to keep the biblical Sabbath. One of his churches, while still holding meetings on Sunday, has already started worshipping on the Sabbath. I keep in contact with him as well, as do the local pastors.

Nilse, a young saleswoman, stopped by the church to sell seaweed and other health products. The ladies from the Dorcas society bought some of her products and invited her to study the Bible. She and her children were baptized during the series.

This past year alone, I participated in more than 4,000 baptisms and witnessed thousands more making decisions for Jesus, due to the fearless testimony of others.

In this issue of Ministry we will see how the power of love can move people to reach out in different ways and by different means to tell the world the good news of salvation. But many times reaching out requires listening. And one aspect of love is caring enough to listen and learn about the needs and interests of others.

It was said of Jesus, “He reached the hearts of the people by going among them as one who desired their good. . . . He met them at their daily vocations, and manifested an interest in their secular affairs. He carried His instruction into the household. . . . His strong personal sympathy helped to win hearts.”*

This suggests that in Jesus’ method of soul winning listening is crucial. Listening is a divine attribute, and as we listen and guide others, we are given the assurance that God is ready and waiting to listen and guide us. “This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14, NASB).

* Ellen G. White, Christian Service (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Pub. Assn., 1999), 119.

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