Happy New Year! The phrase “new year” took on a whole new meaning for me and my family this year. After serving on staff in wonderful churches as youth pastor and senior pastor over the last 17 years, we now embark on a new missionary journey. We stepped out in faith and answered the call to evangelism in September 2018. We entered a time of transition that was filled with excitement, anticipation, and if I’m totally honest, fear of the unknown. We have trusted God to direct our steps and He has been faithful, as always. Our focus for the remainder of 2018 was to have a healthy leadership transition from a church plant that I pastored the last four years. The church has been so gracious and supportive every step of the way, and we are so grateful for such a loving church family at New Heights. We thank God for His great faithfulness and provision during this transition, and we also thank YOU for your prayers and support. Many of you I have never met, and you don’t even really know me yet. But you know the heart of Dennis Nunn and the vision of Every Believer a Witness, and you have prayed for me and my family. THANK YOU!
With the beginning of 2019 our family has launched into a new beginning of our own. I am absolutely thrilled to be on board as the Next Generation Leader of Every Believer a Witness!! God has affirmed my calling to full time evangelism in various ways, but none greater than with my own family. I am blessed with a beautiful wife of 15 years and two children, Evan (13) and Shailynn (12). They take this calling seriously, and they have embraced and modeled a Gospel advancing lifestyle in their own circles of influence. Along with my personal commitment to share the Good News of Jesus, my wife and children also have Gospel conversations regularly and have all led someone to faith in Christ recently (praise God)! I could not do this without the love and support of my family, and their response has been the most inspiring part of this journey (and it should be)! Why does my family have such an urgency? Because God has used Every Believer a Witness to challenge and impact them personally. How are they able to share the Gospel so fluently? Because they have been trained and equipped! With every new person I talk to about our ministry, I hear a deep concern from them about the spiritual condition of their family, friends, and co-workers. With every pastor I meet with, I see a holy discontent in them about how most of our churches and leaders are not prioritizing what matters most. This is the reality across our country, which is why we have set a God-sized goal of training 50,000 pastors by the year 2026! By the grace of God, we plan to accomplish this with our development of online training and the multiplication of church-wide and pastor equipping conferences. Pray with us and this bold vision that can only be accomplished by the power of God through the radical obedience of his people! God is up to something massive in our midst, and YOU are a part of this as you partner with us in prayer and financial support. I sense revival brewing, and God knows we need it now more than ever. Please join me in calling down the fire of revival from Heaven! Only God can send it, but I believe He is looking and longing for living sacrifices like us. In our response to God in praying, giving, and sharing the Gospel, may our actions echo the cry of Isaiah: “Here am I! Send me!”
God bless you and thank you for your partnership in the Gospel!
If you receive our monthly newsletter you may recognize this story. I received the following from Dr. Alex Duvall of Georgetown, South Carolina in April:
Hank Winter, a retired U. S. naval captain, is a 94- year-old veteran of both WWI and Korea where he served as a fighter pilot. He is my wife’s grandfather, and I have known him for about 20 years. He has always epitomized gentlemanly behavior, generosity, and graciousness. For the past few years, he attended church regularly, but if you asked him about his faith, he would honestly admit that he was not a believer in Jesus Christ. About two years ago, we had a conversation about his objections to belief from an apologetics approach, and it went nowhere. My wife and her sister both wrote letters encouraging Hank to come to faith. While appreciated, these letters did not bring him to faith in Jesus Christ.
Then in the fall of 2016, my local church hosted Every Believer a Witness with Dennis Nunn for their annual revival week. Despite being a believer for many years, evangelism was a great struggle for me. I was hoping this event would be a help in that department; boy, I was not disappointed! Never had I encountered such an encouraging, Biblically-based, and practical teaching on the reason and way to be a faithful witness for Jesus Christ. Over the course of five sessions, I gained both the easy-to-understand methods and the opportunity to practice witnessing that made filling the Great Commission in my daily life seem not only possible but even rewarding! I continued to not only pray for those who God had laid on my heart for salvation but to look for ways to witness to them. Hank was at the top of my list, as well as on several others’ prayer lists, and it was not long before it appeared time was running out for him to accept Christ.
In January of 2017, the heart failure that for so many years had not been able to slow down Captain Hank Winter began to take its toll. He was hospitalized twice that month with trouble breathing and also had an infection in his lungs and blood stream. He would have periods of time where he was short of breath even sitting in a chair, and despite good medical care, he had minimal improvement. During both his hospitalizations, I took my Bible and with his permission read various passages to him and discussed the gospel. I concentrated on passages such as the sinner on the cross and the Parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard to emphasize that the grace offered through Christ is available to latecomers just as much as those who accept it early in life. We discussed these spiritual matters for awhile, and although he considered them more seriously, still belief eluded him.
Shortly after coming home from the hospital for the second time, Hank went to his doctor who is a Christian partner of mine and had prayed for Hank and witnessed to him in the past. Hank was given the choice to go to the hospital yet again with little chance of significant improvement or to take a palliative approach to his illness by concentrating on his quality of life at home with hospice. Hank chose the latter option. I visited with him a few times at his home and had some good discussions, but Hank was still unconverted. I remembered Dennis teaching that we are just as faithful when we share the gospel with those who reject it as we are with those who accept it; salvation is of the Lord. However, I, along with many others, sure was praying hard for Hank’s conversion, including my young children who knew the stakes. All the while, Hank’s health continued to be precarious.
Then in the course of just a few days, I experienced a barrage of adverse events that started with a brand new generator suddenly breaking with no explanation and culminating on a Wednesday at work with me having the most crushing day in over a decade of practicing medicine. I recalled what Dennis had said in his last session: if you are serious about sharing the gospel, expect some resistance from Satan. I almost was not surprised, and looking back, God had prepared me for it. How do you respond to the worst day you have ever had at work? Comfort food or drink? Sulk? Retreat to a circle of close family and friends? Exercise? Listen to music? In and of themselves, most of these are not bad things, but perhaps something bigger was going on, and I felt the Lord had shown me what it was. In a strange way, I was encouraged because if there was truly spiritual warfare at play and all this trouble had suddenly appeared, Hank must be close to salvation. I responded in the only way I felt was truly fighting back; after work, I went back to Hank’s with my Bible and witnessed to him again. He did not convert then, but I felt I had responded faithfully and that God would not lay Hank’s eternal soul on so many hearts without plans to show His power to save.
After hearing that Hank had further declined, I went back over to his house the following Sunday evening. There were no high and holy prayers or notable special preparations; I just went. Hank had a lot of questions about dying and was having fears about death and hell now that he felt he was staring over the edge of the cliff. I read a few passages emphasizing the open invitation to come to the One who gives peace and takes away the sting of death. I, along with my believing mother-in-law who is his ever-present caretaker, held his hands and prayed. The Holy Spirit did the work only He can do, and Hank Winter repented of his sins and called on the Lord to accept him. When he opened his eyes, his fear and shortness of breath had passed. At 94 years old, his spiritual man had just risen from the dead.
I am sharing Hank’s conversion story with his permission. He may be late to the fight, but Captain Hank Winter made the decision to be faithful to his Lord’s order from Acts that “you will be my witnesses.” He has fired one last missile despite being unable to leave home and struggles to even walk to his front door. It just goes to show, every believer can be a witness.
From Dennis: “Don’t give up on sharing your faith with your family and friends!”
As I read the history of Israel and her kings, I am reminded that there is a great difference in evangelism methodology in the Old Testament (Covenant) and the New Testament (Covenant).
In the Old Testament, Israel was God’s chosen nation. When the temple was built in Jerusalem for his Name, God’s presence dwelt visibly in the Holy of Holies. Outsiders (foreigners, non-Jews, gentiles) were welcome to come and worship Jehovah in Jerusalem. When Solomon prayed his prayer of dedication, he said:
“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for men will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when he comes and prays toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.”
Even when Jesus was in his earthly ministry, it was still “come and see”; e.g. Andrew & Peter and Philip & Nathanael (John 1) and the woman at the well (John 4).
But when Jesus gave what we refer to as “The Great Commission” to his disciples, He told them “go”, “I am sending you”, and “be witnesses” in various locations to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).
The most common philosophy today in our churches is more like the Old Covenant than the New Covenant. Many Pastors exhort their people to invite their friends to church. I read on one church web site where members were exhorted to “get them here and we will share the Gospel with them”. And while we certainly should invite our friends to church, this should NOT be our primary focus, but rather one method.
The primary focus should be exhorting and training our people to share Jesus in the “as you are going” of life.