May 1 2016   Starting at the River by Rev June Fothergill Acts 16: 9-15 A woman once criticized D.L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting  to win people to the Lord. Moody replied, “ I agree with you. I don’t like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?”  The woman replied, “ I don’t do it.” Moody retorted, “ Then I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it.”  ( p. 28 An Encyclopedia of Humor ed. Lowell D. Streiker. Hendrickson Pub. 1998) Maybe some of you remember back in the  1980’s when each church was asked to come up with an evangelism plan?  At the time I was serving a church in a town of 300 people.  We struggled with what it meant to do evangelism.  Many of us weren’t even to sure we liked the word.  Some folks remembered uncomfortable experiences with evangelists and methods they found too pushy or didn’t trust.   Yet, we were being asked and still are to share with others the good news of Jesus Christ and his love for our world. I still wonder:   What is the method of evangelism that fits us and our situation?   Can we learn something from the methods of Paul, one of the first and very successful evangelist for Christ?     Let’s see what this story reveals.   Paul had a vision that led him to move to a new geographical area of Macedonia, which is in what we today call Greece.  He was led there by his sense of God’s invitation to reach out to a new group of people.  But where does one start in a new place, with new people? What can we learn from Paul’s approach in Philippi? I notice that Paul started at the river.   Apparently he asked around for where people gathered to pray in the Jewish way.  He discovered that people were praying to God at the river, so he went there.   He started with people who had an openness to God.   He discovered that this was a group of women.   Maybe there hadn’t been the ten men needed for a synagogue prayer meeting, yet these women still decided to spend time together in prayer and worship.  They had shown initiative and hunger for a life of faith. I also notice what Paul did not do.  He did not immediately take on the pagan practices of the town. He did not try to preach in the streets.  He didn’t hang up a sign and expect people to show up.   He went to where the people were.  He investigated to discover where people interested...

Read More