All posts in Evangelism

A Passion for Christ

“I’ll tell you how to be a witness for Christ! You need to be filled with the Spirit!” Mike Schadt’s voice rose with passion and conviction as he spoke. Except for a smattering of ‘Amens,’ the room was pin-drop-silent.

He read the 23rd Psalm according to couch potatoes. ‘The TV is my shepherd, I shall not want…’ Many squirmed. It’s hard to be in the world but not of it. I struggle with it everyday. He continued.

The congregation listened as Mike described how a man from Honduras became a follower of Christ. Once a voo-doo-witch doctor, he planned to execute the missionaries from SOS Ministries. When he tried, he couldn’t. The man realized that his god, Satan was no match for the One True God. The Great I Am.

The new convert lives in a mud hut, and asks God each day to keep him safe from those who would now assassinate him because he now serves The Living God.

Mike took us to the book of Acts, where time after time, Luke describes someone as being ‘filled with the spirit.’ I listened with a gut-wrenching, stomach-twisting desire to be like that. But how?

Of course, it starts with prayer. The desire. That is all the Lord needs. He knows that we are but dust. He gives us strength. He gives us wisdom. He gives us courage. He gives us opportunity. He even gives us His Words so we don’t mess it all up.

Our job is to listen and to obey. Kind of hard to hear him with the TV blaring, the microwave beeping, and the phone ringing.

At the end of his message, he asked if any would stand and show that they are committed to living a sold-out-life to Christ. Without hesitation, I stood. My husband did, too. I’m glad he did but I didn’t care if he did. I don’t know what others did around me. That was between them and God. I just knew that burning desire to make a difference. To share the Good News of Jesus Christ.

My heart’s desire is to be a light for Christ. My flesh wants to live for self. It’s a good thing that God knows we are just dust. He can do a lot with dust—take Adam and Eve, for instance.

So this pile of dust is thanking the Lord for men like Mike Schadt. God puts people like him to speak forth His Word to dusty people like you and like me.

I’m glad.

A Caring Life—People

I entered the large store promptly at 7AM as the doors opened. Checking in, I noticed the clerk I’d known for years. I knew that her mother was about the same age as mine, and recently had been ill. I’d even added her to my prayer cards.

She was busy, so I made a mental note to see her on my way out.

After I finished shopping I headed toward the door.

“How’s your mom? I’ve been praying for you.”

Jan’s face clouded at the question. “They’ve had to restrain her because she’s had so many infections. Every time she gets a little weird, which is most of the time.”

“Is it a urinary tract infection?” I knew all about those. Dad had one most of the time. Trouble was, he never had the normal symptoms of fever and pain. He went straight to ‘crazy’. He was on an antibiotic most of the time, but days after they were gone, ‘crazy’ began again.

It was frustrating. For him, for Mom, for us.

I knew Jan’s look. It was exhausted, angry, sad, and overwhelmed all wrapped up in one.

“I think God is cruel,” she stated.

My heart hurt. “God isn’t cruel, Jan.”

“Mom has no life. She is just existing. I guess God isn’t cruel, but I don’t understand why He does things.”

Join the club. I watched as Dad lost his independence, his legs, and his will to live–all within a few short years.

Rarely do I know why God does things. But I know this; He is good, He is love, He is just, He is righteous, He is incomprehensible.

Even through those difficult years, I tasted His goodness. Now, in retrospect, I’m drinking it up.

My thoughts returned to Jan. Don’t know if she knows the Lord. That’s what my prayer card is asking. That she will know Jesus. I don’t have all the answers, but I have Him. That is enough.

“I’ll keep praying for you and your mom.” She thanked me.

As I drove home, I wondered about how many Jans there are in the world. I’m glad I took the time to care.

A Caring Life—Monday’s Musings

“Hi. My name is Pauline Hylton. Are you a visitor?”

I’ve said that countless times at my home church. Sometimes they are visiting and I show them to a Sunday School class. Other times, they’ve attended for 3 years and I either haven’t noticed, or much to my embarrassment, I’ve introduced myself 6 times and my middle-aged-menopausal brain doesn’t remember. I figure it’s more important to be friendly than to risk looking like a complete idiot.

Introducing myself to a stranger isn’t difficult for me. Raised as an Officer’s Brat in The Salvation Army, I had no choice. Like the regular army, we were ‘stationed’ at a ‘corps’ (aka-church) for a few years, and then my parents would receive ‘marching orders.’ Three weeks later, we’d show up in a new city, often a new state, a new house—and for me a new school. If you weren’t outgoing, you’d spend your life eating potato chips in your room. I didn’t. (Except the potato chip part.)

I also didn’t have a choice about caring. I rang the bell each Christmas, visited the sick, and handed out toys at Christmas to the less fortunate. And did I mention that my parents ran a transient lodge for homeless people? The lodge foreman, who taught me how to play pool, spent 17 years in prison for murder.

So when a homeless man began to attend our church in the evenings, of course I introduced myself. I didn’t remember his name, and I felt, well, awkward. What do you ask a homeless person? How’s the family? You like your job? How many children do you have? I was afraid.

Afraid of being taken advantage of. Afraid of feeling like I had to invite him to dinner. Afraid of the unknown. If I were grading myself on the Lord’s caring scale, well let’s just say I’d lose my college scholarship.

It bothered me. I sensed that he chose to be homeless, and that scared me, too. A few weeks before Christmas, I marched to where he sat and re-introduced myself. This time I remembered his name. Mark.

After some small talk I said, “How could I minister to you this week, Mark?”

He cocked his head and tightened his mouth. “I have a ministry that I do on Martin Luther King Boulevard on Saturday nights. Right after 7PM there is a local dentist who is throwing a Christmas party and I’d like to attend. I’m having trouble with my teeth.” With that he smiled to show a few were missing. “The trouble is that I need a pick-up to move the equipment.”

I had no idea why, but I knew Tom had a pick-up.

“Just pray about that for me. There might be a guy there who could help.”

I didn’t forget, and I did pray. I was familiar with the area since I’d run a Salvation Army girls group in that area as a young married woman. Often I’d pick up the girls or drop them off. The neighborhood wasn’t known for being safe. Tom and I agreed to be at the corner that he designated at 7.

It was a record-breaking cold night for The Tampa Bay area. I wanted to stay home in my heated house with my pink slippers, but we bundled up and drove there. We weren’t sure what we were looking for since we didn’t know what kind of ministry it was.

The streets were almost empty. A few Christmas lights adorned some old buildings. Newer buildings were added since I’d last been there. A group of young men hung out on a corner—pants low on their hips. I tried not to stare.

Then I heard a voice projected from up the street. A shabby, white van positioned itself in a vacant lot, with trunk-sized speakers placed on both sides. An African-American man read scripture interlaced with commentary in a Jamaican accent. Mark sat hunkered in the back seat.

He looked pleased to see us. We shook hands and talked a few minutes. Turns out Tom couldn’t move the equipment since his Toyota had a topper. The white van would do. He thanked us and we left.

As we rode back in the heated truck, I sobbed. This unnamed man from our congregation was faithfully ministering to people who weren’t listening and maybe even didn’t care. And until then, I didn’t care.

But God cared.

I’m studying the book of Isaiah in Bible Study Fellowship this year. No one listened to Isaiah. He wasn’t popular with Judah. God even had him dress in a loincloth for a few years to get people’s attention. I doubt that pleased his wife. He didn’t blend in with the culture of his day because God called him to be different. Like Mark.

I want to be different, too. My family and friends think I already am. What I mean, is I want to be obedient to God in whatever He has called me to do. Like Mark who ministers on an empty street in Florida. Like Isaiah, who ministered to a ‘stiffed necked’ people in Judah.

I believe He’s called me to be obedient to sit in front of this computer screen to tell you stories about others. So that we can all learn.

Happy New Year,


A Caring Life—Thursday’s Thoughts

I saw Mike at the back of the sanctuary and pushed through my church family to greet him. He looked ill.

“Hey, Mike. How was the Nigeria trip?” Mike is involved with an international college ministry that plants churches in other countries.

He paused before speaking. “The first part of the trip went well. It was a great blessing.” His gaze shifted as if he were struggling with words. “The second half of the trip was sobering. A few of us remained and visited believers in a more remote, dangerous area. When we arrived, huts still smoldered. Islamic extremists had been there only hours before. They’d set the homes on fire, and then when precious believers ran outside, they were either shot or injured with machetes.”

This was not your typical Sunday after-church conversation.

“Seven Christians died. Many were wounded. We visited two children in the hospital, which looked more like a hut with dirt floors. A 12-year-old girl was shot in her left leg.”

He crossed his arms, as tears welled in his eyes. “We share in the sufferings of these brothers and sisters in Christ! Like I said, it is sobering.”

I went home to football and fried chicken—they suffered in the smoldering remains of their homes. It was hard for me to imagine from my American, middle-class, worldview.

Do I really suffer with them? The apostle Paul speaks of this in I Corinthians 12: 26-27, “And if one member suffers all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

It seems to me that as believers, we are all caregivers. We care by serving where God has placed us—serving our family and those in our local church body. We serve by caring for those who are part of the body of Christ who hurt all over the world. We care by sending His representatives to them. We care by going ourselves, or like I did this morning and will continue to do all day—praying for them. We can all do that.

Christ’s life was a life of compassion. A caring life. That’s the kind of life I want to lead.

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Mallory Square-Monday’s Musings on Tuesday

I sat on the cement ground, mesmerized by the man. His tools were a giant, white writing pad and 4 large, almost-dried-up markers. He told the ‘old, old, story’ in a brand-new way. It was a perfect fit for the audience.

Next to him, a solidly-built, older gentleman walked a tight-rope as he conversed with a spell-bound crowd. In front of him, vendors of art, jewelry, and colored fabrics pedaled their wares to content tourists, warm with sun, some hot with alcohol.

As he spoke, adding marks to his picture, filling in shapes to make words, some laughed at him. Others passed within inches of him, trying to provoke a comment. Still others outwardly taunted and made faces while the ‘show’ of Mallory Square continued on.

The scene of the cross came to mind. Heads wagging. Sour wine offered. Gambling beneath as ‘the old, old, story’ played out. A precious treasure available as passerbys grapple for trinkets that will one day burn.

After he finished his presentation, I turned to my daughter Sarah and said, “He must find it extremely difficult to come out here week after week, sharing the gospel with people who don’t care or who make fun of him.” We agreed, teary-eyed.

Just then, a younger man joined the speaker and their conversation floated over the ocean breezes to us. “I know. I can’t believe that the Lord gives me the privilege of speaking His Word here each week! I sometimes have to pinch myself,” he informed the young man.

My heart lifted while my opinions melted. The ‘old, old, story,’ is new and exciting and, shucks, it’s even good news. The Good News. And this man knows it and cherishes it and is faithful to preach it for 25 years now in Mallory Square.

And everyone said, Amen.