1/10. Do you think you can bring 1 person to Christ if given 10 years to do so?
That was the question that tugged at the heart of Jason Wong, the founder of Yellow Ribbon Project and Dads for Life, as he felt that God was stirring in him a new burden for evangelism some three years ago.
That desire has since grown and given birth to a new Christian movement, One For Jesus (OFJ), which was officially unveiled this week.
Speaking at the launch event at Bartley Christian Church on Wednesday (December 1), Jason shared candidly how it all began.
THE CHURCH HAS STOPPED GROWING
“The first time I caught this burden of the Lord was when Bishop Rennis Ponniah was conducting the roadshows for Celebration of Hope (COH),” explained Jason from Cornerstone Community Church.
“One of the things he said that I never forgot was: The Church has stopped growing.”
When Bishop Rennis showed a graph on the percentage of the Christian population in Singapore and pointed out how its growth had plateaued in recent years, Jason was saddened at the shape of the curve.
That was in early 2019, months before the three-day gospel rallies were due to be held at the National Stadium. But even after COH had ended, God continued to bring to mind Bishop Rennis’ words.
Jason knew God wanted him to act, but he hesitated as he knew how difficult evangelism could be. He didn’t feel qualified too.
“(But) the Lord reminded me, Yellow Ribbon was never easy; setting captives free was never easy. Turning the hearts of fathers to the children was never easy as well.”
Realising God was right, Jason asked Him how he should proceed.
That was when God dropped in his heart the question about bringing one person to Christ within 10 years.
“My answer was ‘yes’,” recounted Jason. “But the question kept coming… And I realised that the question was not just meant for me, but also for every Christian.”
When he started asking this question to everyone, they all said “yes”.
Struck by what would happen if this were to be a reality, it would mean that in 10 years, the Christian population in Singapore would double from 12% to 24%, which has never happened before, stated Jason.
WORKING TOWARDS A NEW CURVE
With that goal in mind, the team behind OFJ is united in its vision to see Christians all over our island coming together to share the Good News of Jesus and bring at least one non-Christian to Him over the next decade.
Wanting to first get a good understanding of the state of evangelism in Singapore, the OFJ core team – which comprises Christians across different denominations – conducted a National Survey On Evangelism In Singapore Churches from April to June 2021.
A total of 1,463 respondents from more than 17 different churches participated in this survey that focused on five broad areas. Here are some key findings.
1. Why Christians aren’t sharing the gospel
“Most of us would think that it’s because of time, that people are busy. But actually, it ranked number six,” said principal researcher Dr Ho Boon Tiong on why Christians don’t share the gospel.
Instead, the top three reasons are: I don’t want to offend others in a multi-religious society (19.8%), I fear rejection from others (18.8%) and I don’t have opportunities to witness (15.3%).
However, there is a silver lining, added Dr Ho, who is also the LCEC Chairman of Bedok Methodist Church.
The least ranked reason was the belief that it is the job of pastors to evangelise (0.43%), meaning that most respondents recognised it to be a personal responsibility.
2. How are Christians sharing the gospel and what difficulties do they face
When asked about which gospel tool they were most familiar with, the respondents cited:
- The sharing of personal testimonies or other testimonies (e.g. videos) (30.2%).
- The sharing of Bible verses (14.9%).
- Friendship evangelism (14.7%).
The findings also revealed that Christians believed that building relationships (25.9%), being authentic (22.5%) and having the willingness to listen (20.7%) are the three most important aspects to create a positive experience in witnessing.
“Now these three (most important) aspects were consistent with the earlier findings of sharing the gospel through testimonies based on friendship evangelism, and not wanting to offend others that will cause Christians to lose their right and respect of being heard,” noted Dr Ho.
The survey also sought out what questions Christians faced while sharing the gospel.
It found that the three most difficult questions people faced during witnessing were:
- If God is love, why is there suffering in the world?
- All religions are good. How can Jesus be the only way to God?
- Why are some Christians behaving badly, isn’t that hypocritical?
3. Who are Christians sharing the gospel with
Predictably, the survey found that Christians frequently shared with their friends (62.4%), family (58%), followed by colleagues (38.2%) and lastly strangers/acquaintances (22.2%).
Interestingly, Mandarin congregations shared more frequently compared to English congregations both at home and at the workplace.
Dr Ho also pointed out that close to half of respondents (47%) already knew two or three people they wanted to share the gospel with.
“So this has gone beyond One For Jesus,” he quipped. “At least three for Jesus, if not more.”
4. Beliefs about sharing the gospel
Given that 78% of respondents believed that sharing the gospel requires face-to-face interactions, you might think that this would be a problem in the pandemic since organising physical meet-ups remains a challenge.
However, Dr Ho emphasised that witnessing can still happen.
“Even during these high restrictions where you can only have two of you at the coffee shop or hawker centre, that’s one-on-one (witnessing),” he said.
In fact, this sentiment was echoed by many respondents, as an overwhelming 90% of them agreed that, in a post-COVID-19 world, one-on-one evangelism would be relevant.
5. Views on the role of their church in evangelism
When asked what more their church can do to help them be more effective in evangelism, organising training/equipping sessions (14.8%), sharing stories of life change (13.6%) and conversational evangelism (11.7%) were the top programmes stated.
Conversely, the least desired was holding praying sessions on evangelism (7.6%).
“This is very striking,” admitted Dr Ho. “I don’t know if this is our culture… But I feel that this is important to note and maybe we can do something about it.”
In addition, when respondents were asked about the type of evangelistic event or effort they would like to see more, the top four listed were:
- Love in action efforts.
- Community outreach (evangelistic) programmes.
- Special evangelistic events
- Outreach in the marketplaces.
Another thing worth highlighting is that more younger Christians wanted to see evangelism as a national effort instead of leaving it to individual churches.
This percentage was much higher among the young — 77.9% for those up to 21 years of age versus only 59.3% of those above 65 years of age.
Hence, it stands to reason that youths and young adults could well be more receptive to OFJ’s advocacy role and campaign work.
ENGAGE, ENCOURAGE, EQUIP
“The church is the main conduit that we’ll work through,” said core team member Benedict Leh, explaining that OFJ was set up to be not just an evangelistic movement, but also a unity movement.
A member of Barker Road Methodist Church, Benedict is also an Independent Director at Far East Hospitality Trust.
“We’re here to work alongside each of you to bring more workers,” he added.
For this purpose, OFJ aims to be the one-stop place for churches on evangelism, aggregating resources as well as activating more labourers for the Great Commission through prayer and equipping, social media engagement and sharing of insights, with more surveys in the pipeline.
Recognising the importance of having an online presence, one of the key access points will be through digital platforms.
“For many, being online is as real — if not more real — than being face to face, especially in a post-COVID world,” shared Pastor Norman Ng, Deputy Senior Pastor of 3:16 Church, who is also part of OFJ’s core group.
From December, there will be live conversations where Christians who have shared their testimonies will speak about their experience, while tough questions such as “If God is good, why is there suffering” will be addressed.
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There are also plans for face-to-face events, such as One Hour For Jesus, a monthly prayer meeting that will begin next year; and One Day For Jesus, an annual national rally to charge up the Christian community.
Finally, OFJ even has music videos!
THE HEART OF EVANGELISM
As a young person reflecting on all that was shared at the launch event, one key message I got is that evangelism should be a lifestyle.
When we attempt to find people to share the gospel with, we often fail to realise that God has already given us our one (or even two or three).
“God has put all of us Christians in our respective stations in life, where there are already significant others, be it friends, relatives, colleagues or family members,” said Benedict. “You can share without offending (them) because of your relational capital.”
Because these are people who already know us, they would have seen how God has worked in our lives, he explained. “And it’s really through that, that you make the faith real.”
Finally, while we ponder how to evangelise, let us remember that catching the heart of evangelism is perhaps even more crucial.
When we abide in Jesus, the Holy Spirit inspires us to be God’s witnesses, reminded Dr Ho. And as witnesses, we’ll naturally evangelise to others.
“One For Jesus is about mobilising that 80-90% who are very comfortable in church to go out, so that all of us will be out there looking for the lost and bringing them home,” said Jason.
Making evangelism our lifestyle means both living out the gospel so that every good work we do can reveal Jesus, as well as being prepared to share our faith in a sensitive way when opportunities arrive.
This can seem tedious or difficult, but that’s exactly why OFJ was created: to ignite our passion, empower us and equip us with what we need to carry out God’s Great Commission.
Would you consider today to make a personal commitment to bring at least one non-Christian to Christ in the next 10 years? If your answer is “yes”, join the OFJ movement by making the 1/10 promise here.
- What are the challenges you face in sharing the gospel? How can you take steps to overcome them?
- What are some ways you can abide in Jesus and become God’s witness in your own life?
- Who are the people that God is placing on your heart to reach out to?