The whole idea and vision of Advance has impacted me significantly, not including the people in my Advance Group! Since I first met Jesus the need to tell others has always burned within me but that did not necessarily mean I actually did it very much. Being in a team and holding one another accountable has put witnessing very much in the front of my mind. Whether going to the shops or playing golf or talking to my neighbours, I find myself thinking and praying and being alert to a possible opportunity to speak.
When I first dropped the idea of starting an Advance Group on my church around a half dozen of totally different various people signed up: a businessman, a young mother, a retired engineer, a teenager and possibly the most surprising to me, a couple of elderly ladies in their seventies! I’ve known these ladies for years and, had it not been for Advance, I never would have realised that these elderly women actually were far more than witnesses, they are true evangelists! The little nudge and encouragement that Advance has given them has kindled what were tiny embers into roaring flame. By meeting intentionally in our Advance Group we have all moved forward in our evangelism whereas beforehand we simply wouldn’t have thought it was something that needed work on. Through just our group alone almost one hundred people received some Gospel witness since we started meeting – that’s people who probably would not have been talked to but for the encouragement of being in this group.
At our first Advance Group meeting I encouraged all the members to each identify three people who they cared about/loved/who were on their heart and wanted to see come to Jesus. We committed ourselves to pray for them by name on a daily basis. One member of my group, Debbie, said to me, ‘Only three? But I have so many more than that!’ I laughed and assured her that God could handle 10, 20, or however many more she wanted to put on the list; but make sure there were at least three.
We all choose a time and a place (Mark 1:35) each week, where we made an appointment with God and prayed for each person on the list, as well as for the people on the groups lists. In one month I saw three of the people who were on the group list – Chris, Mitch and Mike –accepted Jesus into their lives after being prayed for. I have not spoken to them at all, just to God ‘about them’. It cannot be forgotten that prayer is very much essential in our Gospel sharing mission!
Our Advance Group continues to meet on a regular basis and each time we come together I notice the change these sessions have on everyone. I know that as we continue to gather, Jesus is going to continue growing and sharpening us in our evangelism and I couldn’t recommend enough to consider starting you own Advance Group, it really does have an impact!
Written by Harry Miller, UK Advance Group Leader