If there was one thing I wish I’d known before I started to share my faith it would be ‘remember to keep the focus’; keep the focus on sharing the good news that brings hope and life to people who are searching, every day, for something to fill a void that they feel in their lives.
I think of my own experience when I say this. I’ve been surrounded by evangelists my whole life. My dad, Luis Palau, was hugely influential in my life. I saw him living out the words he spoke to so many people all around the world. My brother, Andrew, quickly followed in his footsteps as a gifted evangelist, and my sister-in-law, Wendy, came alongside Andrew in that same way. Even now, for the past 36 years I’ve been working at a ministry focused on evangelism, leading the charge as president for the last several years.
You would think then, that drifting or losing focus on sharing my faith personally would be impossible in my case, but that’s untrue.
I live in Portland, Oregon. Portland is a very unchurched city – very much like the United Kingdom and much of Europe. Years ago, we started to experiment with different forms of evangelism here, all in hopes of changing the atmosphere of the city by loving and serving those who live here. We focused on evangelism training and city-wide evangelistic festivals. We proclaimed the good news widely and worked to raise the temperature of evangelism throughout the city. With that, came an increased commitment to service as well, supporting our foster care system, servicing our public schools, helping our refugee community, and so much more. It was an exciting and thrilling time.
A few years ago, a handful of leaders came together to evaluate where we were as a city. We found ourselves encouraged and blessed as we recognised all the areas that had continued to thrive. However, we quickly realised that the heart for direct evangelism had waned. We realised that without a clear, intentional commitment to evangelism—it dwindles to nearly nothing very quickly.
And in all honesty, in the middle of it all, I found myself in that same mode – so excited and focused on service that I had lost my own personal passion for sharing the gospel, allowing the world to squeeze me into its mould, which Paul warns against in Romans 12:1-2.
In a city with a culture like Portland, working for the common good is the easiest thing, and it’s so important. It blesses our neighbours and helps alleviate pain and suffering. I don’t regret any of that work. It’s so vital! But we must not forget to share the good news as well – the reason behind our service. It is our greatest joy and responsibility to share the message of Christ verbally, joyfully, and passionately.
As I drifted, ever so slightly and quietly, I didn’t even recognise it in myself. My dad and brother Andrew were the ones to notice it at first. They tried multiple times to bring it to light. In the midst of it, I wasn’t always the most receptive, but God was so faithful to me, and over time, the Holy Spirit guided me to see what was really going on – that I had drifted away from my personal commitment to evangelism. That conviction from the Holy Spirit awakened in me a drive to prioritise evangelism and to keep it a priority always.
From that moment on, I knew we, as the body of Christ in Portland, needed to make a change. All of us did. So, several of us leaders gathered together to pray and plan and the result was the birth of SharePDX – an evangelism team focused on keeping evangelism a priority in our city and churches.
Like it or not, many of us must work at maintaining our zeal. We have to challenge, encourage, support, and hold each other accountable.
If I could leave you with one piece of advice, it would be this: Find people to hold you accountable. If you are naturally passionate about evangelism, don’t forget that most of the pastors and leaders in your life are going to consistently need inspiration and encouragement to remain faithful in season, when we see the harvest clearly, and out of season, when it may feel like a drought.
The hope we have in Christ is life changing, and the work he has given us while here on earth is profound. The enemy will stop at nothing to discourage, distract, and destroy us. We must stand strong, encouraging and supporting one another, so that we never lose our focus.
1. What is the Christian environment like where you live?
2. How does the environment where you live impact you in your faith and evangelism?
3. Have you forgotten about the importance of evangelism? Or have you lost some of your evangelistic focus? Why not message someone you trust who can hold you accountable, or consider starting an Advance Group where you surround yourself with people regularly to grow and sharpen in evangelism.