Transform 2016: In the footsteps of Paul

Following the opening conference of Transform, OM's summer outreach to the Mediterranean, one team went to Malta. Team members share how they learned about evangelism as a lifestyle during their two weeks on the island:

Before our team even stepped foot on the island of Malta, we already knew we were treading in the footsteps of the greatest evangelist that ever lived. The apostle Paul preached the gospel to the people of Malta very early in Christian history, when he was shipwrecked on the island for three months (Acts 27-28).

Today, the spiritual condition of Malta is mixed. The population is fiercely rooted in Roman Catholicism and, for the most part, secularism does not seem to have taken a strong hold of the nation yet. Islam adherents are also growing with the influx of refugees from North Africa.

In this spiritual climate, under a hot sun and surrounded by the beauty of the island at every turn, our team dedicated two weeks to follow in the footsteps of the apostle Paul and to preach the gospel. Our leader, Dirk W.L. Knies, originally from the Netherlands, has been a missionary in Malta for many years. The 11 participants hailed from eight countries in Europe and North America and, although we were of various ages, various Christian backgrounds, with various testimonies, we combined to make a united team in Christ under Dirk's capable and enthusiastic leadership.

What we did

What we did? In two words: street evangelism. We travelled the island in all directions and talked to people about Jesus, the Son of God. We spread the good news of the death and the resurrection of Jesus and of a personal relationship with God marked by repentance of sin and salvation through grace alone by faith alone. And God surely used us to accomplish through us his saving work. We saw several people make a commitment to follow Jesus, we gave a few Bibles in Arabic to Muslim men, we prayed with many, and we planted the seed of the gospel in many hearts.

What we learned

God taught each team member principles we have taken back home with us and now wish to put into practice. Specifically, through his dedication to the gospel and his example, Dirk demonstrated to us the practice of daily evangelism or 'lifestyle evangelism'. In addition to the occasions when we specifically approached people to tell them about Jesus, we learned to share the gospel at every turn of our daily life.

So, we shared Jesus with the tow truck driver when our car broke down, with a group of boys playing Pokémon Go in the town square, with the vendor selling us ice cream, with a mother and son swimming in the sea, with a man travelling with us on the ferry boat, and with the children at the park while playing hide and seek with them.

Now that each team member has returned to their jobs or schools or families, we wish to look for opportunities to share Jesus at the doctor's office, standing in line for coffee, registering for school, etc. Evangelism is not a thing that we do, by appointment-only on certain occasions. Rather, it is a dynamic life that we live out through our daily activities. As someone has said, "I am not a mechanic who is a believer. I am a disciple of Jesus cleverly disguised as a mechanic."

We also learned that discipleship must follow evangelism. Our work is to multiply disciples (or "Maltaply" as we jokingly called it). That is, we lead a person to Jesus and we disciple them so that in turn they can lead another to Jesus and disciple them, who in turn can lead another to Jesus, etc. Therefore, as important as it is to preach the gospel, it is just as important to follow-up with the new believers. Praying with them, reading and studying God's word with them, attending church with them is crucial follow-up for disciple multiplication.

Also impressed on our hearts throughout the two weeks was the reminder that time is short. Some team members shared nudges that we received from God that Jesus is coming back soon as Lord and King. We have been reminded of the urgency of evangelism and the words of Jesus, "Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done." (Revelation 22:12) 

And we say, "Come, Lord Jesus!  And until you do, may we be faithful in continually multiplying disciples on the earth!"

For more details about the work of the Transform outreach team on Malta, please visit their blog: maltateam2016.wordpress.com

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