But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. [Acts 1:8 (NLT)]
Several years ago, Pastor John, the youth pastor at our mountain church, shared his experiences while on a mission trip to Malawi, Africa. Here in the states, we expect our pastors to keep their messages to thirty-minutes so we can get a table at the Pancake House or arrive home in time for the game. In Monkey Bay, however, the pastor is likely to speak nonstop for two hours or more. Shortly before the day’s service began, the host minister, Pastor Paul, informed our young pastor that he would be speaking that morning. John quickly declined saying he hadn’t prepared a sermon. He usually worked several hours to prepare a Sunday message and was sure, without notes, he couldn’t possibly wing it for thirty minutes, let alone two hours. Pastor Paul was not to be rebuffed and insisted that John could and would do it. Paul assured him the words would come and, indeed, they did! Pastor John reported that he was still going strong two hours later! In spite of John’s fears, the words kept coming because he tapped into the power of the Holy Spirit.
Recently, another young pastor conceded that his sermon is not the most daunting part of Sunday mornings. The real challenge for him comes when someone asks a question after the sermon and he doesn’t have a prepared answer. If pastors can experience stage-fright when it comes to talking about Jesus, what about us lay people? While we’re probably not going to be asked to give an impromptu sermon, I think we’re offered many opportunities to start Jesus conversations that are missed because we think we don’t have the words. Instead of worrying that we don’t know enough, we should remember that Christianity isn’t rocket science. The story of Jesus isn’t complicated, no one expects us to be theologians, and “I don’t know,” is a perfectly acceptable response when we can’t answer a question. While it’s good to be able to quote chapter and verse from Scripture, it’s more important to know and share its message of Good News. If we trust the Holy Spirit, we will find the right words.
There is not a better evangelist in the world than the Holy Spirit. [Dwight L. Moody]