‘Do the work of an evangelist’
THE WORK OF AN EVANGELIST is not outside a pastor’s role. This conclusion was drawn by the President of Trinity Annual Conference (TRAC), the Rev Dr Wee Boon Hup, as he gave his sermon at the Closing Service of the 36th Session of TRAC at Toa Payoh Methodist Church on Nov 24, 2011.
He had drawn this conclusion from 2 Tim 4:1-5, where the apostle Paul charges the young pastor Timothy to “do the work of an evangelist”.
Turning to the book of Acts, the Rev Dr Wee explained what it meant to be an evangelist, using the example of Philip who was referenced in Acts 21:8. Observing that Philip had, in Acts 8, ministered to the lone Ethiopian eunuch as well as to crowds in Samaria, the TRAC President summarised the work of an evangelist as consisting of the “personal dimension” – being led by the Holy Spirit to speak personally to someone and explain the Gospel to them, as well as the “public dimension” – preaching Christ and doing miracles through the Holy Spirit.
The Rev Dr Wee shared his own challenging journey of taking up the work of an evangelist in his role as a pastor, by preaching Christ, issuing altar calls every Sunday, and offering to pray for church members after the worship services. He noted that there was very little response initially, and surmised that church members were not used to such initiatives. “People don’t bring non-Christians to church – perhaps they think church is only for Christians!”
However, he persisted and found that “people catch on”, even bringing their non-Christian friends for prayer to be healed. This gave non-Christians the opportunity to respond to the Gospel, and as the Rev Dr Wee struggled to understand the theology of healing, he noted: “More importantly, what I learned was how to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit. You do the work but the Holy Spirit brings healing.”
He noted that the work of an evangelist is not reserved only for those who are in office, that is, the pastors and leaders in the church. “Pastors must make it a specialty in their lives, but it is something every disciple of Christ must do.”
“I believe it’s a challenge to many of us, but it’s a challenge worth taking,” he said, encouraging both pastors and lay people to take up this work of evangelism.
It was a resounding call to the pastors as Bishop Dr Robert Solomon proceeded to conduct the ordination of five Deacons: the Rev Chan Siew Chye, the Rev Anthony Lee, the Rev Joshua Loo Chee Keong, the Rev Ming Feong Ching, and the Rev Ivan Tan Meng Cheng. The Rev Loretta Lim Swee Gek and the Rev Reuben Ng Lee Keong were also ordained as Elders.
After the reading of pastoral appointments for 2012, the congregation of pastors and lay members were sent forth, with the combined choir exhorting all Christians to keep “preachin’, teachin’, reachin’ … building His Kingdom of love”.