Coconut Apostles: Principle #6
Evangelists are great speakers but not often great listeners. I guess each strength has its corresponding weakness. They are great at starting new relationships and less motivated to maintain existing relationships.
In the Pacific Islands, where everything appears peaceful, there is often a lot of conflict. Sometimes it is hidden. Sometimes it flares up. This made counselling skills useful in Vanuatu alongside peacemaking, community development and evangelism.
The Evangelism Conference in 2001 promoted both evangelism and counselling. However, John and I lacked counselling skills and I think it is fair to say that John was sometimes opposed to counselling. He saw counselling as inadequate if it relied on human thinking more than it relied on the Holy Spirit. Therefore little attention was given to the afternoon counselling sessions scheduled at the conference. Instead we used them for prayer in small groups.
Photograph courtesy of Jon Tyson on Unsplash
The results were dynamite. I think the mixture of basic teaching about Jesus from the Gospels, combined with immediate application, accelerated the revival that broke out that week. One French Protestant woman did not believe that God gives visions and spiritual gifts. While we were praying (in my small group of 5 women and me), she fell back into some bushes and did not wake up even when it rained. After perhaps 20 minutes she came back to us and told us about the vision and “out of body” experience she just had where God showed her the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It was extraordinary to witness such a powerful experience.
We simply taught stories about Jesus from the Gospels but God gave people faith and repentance. We saw immediate changes in people and they testified publicly to meeting God personally. An encounter with the risen Lord Jesus Christ accelerates personal transformation.