What they really believe
Most people when thinking of Beach Missions think of tug-of-war, red t-shirts, choruses, memory verses and games with children on the beach. However, even before schools have finished for the summer holiday the Beach Team can be hard at work. But what is there to do? In fact, there are many opportunities for evangelism.
In Llandudno one Sunday morning early this summer, three of our team members were on local radio sharing the gospel. Over 500 children heard the good news through assemblies and lessons in local schools. Meanwhile open airs through the week were invaluable in reaching holidaymakers and locals alike.
One interesting aspect of the work was a series of questionnaire interviews carried out in the town. This gave rise to many good conversations and opportunities for personal witness. The questionnaire responses showed us some interesting facts.
Over three-quarters of those asked claimed to believe in God, with the remainder divided between those who asserted there is no God and those who were unsure.
It was pleasing to discover after further conversation that half of those asked said they would like to know God personally; and many wondered how it could be possible. A wonderful opportunity!
Due to the cultural background of most of our sample it was unsurprising to find that 92 per cent had attended Sunday school. Most had fond recollections – including of barn dancing! But further conversation revealed that little of spiritual value had been retained, and some even spoke of brainwashing.
Despite any fond memories, our results showed that only 35 per cent claimed they went to church now. Even for the majority of these, visits were occasional at best.
A similar percentage said they read the Bible. But many admitted that this was infrequent and often for reassurance. One gentleman read it to help with the crossword!
In response to the question, ‘Who do you think Jesus Christ is?’, 48 per cent asserted that Jesus was the Son of God. For many, however, we felt this was answered as if trying to give a correct answer rather than from personal experience.
Some were unsure about Christ, whilst others dismissed him as merely a good man or even a fable. We were surprised to meet one person who viewed Jesus as an early communist!
But the result that challenged us most was the response to: ‘What is a Christian?’ Although a minority of 8 per cent spoke of hypocrisy and brainwashing, the overwhelming response was: ‘a Christian is a good person who believes in God’.
This worrying reply seems to cover anything from a charitable Muslim to dear old ‘Mrs Smith’ who attends church at Christmas and Easter and runs the local WI. If this is all that the average man on the street sees Christians as, then something is sadly lacking in Britain’s Christian community.
Why are we not seen as salt and light in a dark world? Are we keeping our light hidden from those who desperately need its searching gleam to pierce their hearts? Jesus said, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven’.
We are indeed called to do good to others, but the aim is not to be seen as good people, but through our lives to point to Christ and show his beauty. We need to use every aspect of our lives to proclaim Christ Jesus to the lost. Deeds may raise curiosity, but that will not give them the knowledge of the way of salvation. Let’s tell them!
If we look to the scriptures we read, ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your heart and always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’.
We are not required to wait until people ask us, and be on the defensive. Let’s seize every opportunity to share what Jesus has done for us and what he can do for them. He said, ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’.
Therefore, Christians must be more than just good people who believe in God; they must be beacons in a dark world, those who causes lives around them to be transformed. They should point through word as well as deed to the great Transformer of lives – the Lord Jesus Christ.
Miriam Fay & Ben Gill