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Evangelistic opportunities

September 2003

Roger Thomas is a full-time evangelistic worker for the Welsh-speaking Evangelical Church in Aberystwyth. ETasked Roger to outline his work — to stimulate all of us to consider the evangelistic opportunities open to our own churches, and to help us pray for those engaged in such ministries. He writes:

I became a Christian in 1989 during my first term at Swansea University. A young man from the Christian Union was going from door to door in the hall of residence where I was staying, sharing the gospel with people and inviting them to church. A few weeks later, after hearing the gospel from this student, I became a Christian.

In 1993 God called me to preach the gospel, and after four years theological training I began to minister in a Baptist chapel in the South Wales Valleys.

God closed the door on my ministry there towards the end of last year, and in January 2003 I became a full-time worker in the Welsh-speaking Evangelical Church in Aberystwyth.

The church has been concerned for some time about the need to reach the lost in Aberystwyth and the surrounding area, especially the Welsh-speakers. Therefore, my main aim is to take the gospel to these people.

The verse which motivates me is Mark 16:15 — ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’. In obedience to that command, I have sought to reach out to four groups of people.

University students

In order to reach to reach the Welsh-speaking students in the university, I attend both the Christian Union meetings for Welsh-speaking students and those at the Agricultural College.

By going to these meetings I get to know the Welsh-speaking Christian students and also those who are searching. During term time I try to help these Christians to reach out to their fellow students, visiting both them and those that are seeking.

I would have liked to visit ‘door to door’ in the halls of residence, but this has not been possible because of university regulations.

However, I have made contact with other students while visiting Christians and seekers and having meals with them. With some of these I have been able to share the gospel and, in time, I hope such opportunities will grow.

Welsh-speaking schools

Every week I take one school assembly in a Welsh-speaking/bilingual school and aim to visit each of these schools once a term. The way this door opened for me was by approaching schools which already have a link with someone in the church.

They were asked if they would be interested in my taking a school assembly. With other schools, where there was no previous link, I simply telephoned them, explained who I was, and asked them the same question.

The response has been very encouraging. Every school I approached expressed their willingness for me to come in. We thank God for opening this door for us.

One exciting development in this work has been the formation of a ‘schools network’. A meeting was held where all Evangelicals involved in schools work came together.

After establishing which school each of us visited, we made a list of schools which did not receive a visit from any of us.

We propose to approach all of them to offer to take an assembly once a term. At the moment we are in the process of contacting these schools and so far the response has been encouraging.

Surrounding villages

Once a week I go from door to door in the surrounding villages. Sometimes I go by myself, sometimes with others from the church. We knock on every door. Where we get an answer we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with them.

We make a note of any who show an interest, and revisit them later. Where we do not get an answer we leave literature — information about the church and a tract presenting the gospel.

Very few people say they don’t want to speak to us. Most do listen. However, unfortunately, few of those we speak to show much interest in the gospel. Apathy would sum up the response of many.

Nevertheless, a few have expressed a desire to talk further. Therefore, God willing, we plan to visit these people again.

The lack of response does lead us to ask, ‘Is there a point in doing this work?’ or ‘Am I doing it right?’ How do we answer these questions?

Sowing and reaping

In response to the first question I remind myself, first, of the commandment to take the gospel to those who have not heard it and, second, of the day of judgement when we will give account if we have failed to do so.

In response to the second question I consider the fact that there is a process in the work of the kingdom — sowing and then reaping. I tell myself that I am at the planting stage. Perhaps, at some time in the future, I shall have the joy of seeing some of this seed growing and bearing fruit.

Passages such as the parable of the sower (Mark 4:1-9 and 13-20) and the parable of the growing seed (Mark 4:30-32) give me a quiet confidence that at some point there will be fruit.

One difficult thing about this work has been dogs! Thankfully, I have only been bitten once. One farmer advised me to take dog biscuits with me!

During the weeks of door to door visitation we have met a number of Christians. Once a month the minister of the church where I work leads a Bible study with these people. The aim is both to encourage these Christians and to reach out to the lost in their villages.

Shows, fairs and the future

Finally, we seek to take the gospel to those attending the Aberystwyth Winter Fair (December), the Royal Welsh Agricultural Show (July) and the National Eisteddfod (August).

In the respective months, I join with others to take the gospel to those attending the various events — we have a tent where Christian literature is sold and tracts distributed.

My present appointment is for 18 months. When this time is completed, I hope (if the Lord so leads me) to carry on with this work and develop it in various ways — taking the gospel to many of the other annual agricultural shows and fairs in Wales; and helping local churches to evangelise the communities around them.