When I stumbled into Servant Evangelism almost 15 years ago, my life was changed forever. As part of a denomination that was very focused on evangelism, I was a pastor who hated evangelism. But of course, no one could know. So I learned the techniques, went to the training courses, made the phone calls, knocked on the doors, passed out a trillion tracts. I did all of this was to try to cover up the fact that I hated making people uncomfortable, which seemed to be unavoidably woven into the fabric of every evangelism program I had ever seen.
And then came free sodas at traffic lights. Doughnuts and milk to people having yard sales. Hot chocolate to cold customers in the wee hours of Black Friday.
And as toilets were cleaned, and windshields were washed, and hotdogs and cokes were given away at heavy metal concerts, I found that I didn’t really hate evangelism. I just hated the way I had always done it.
And so, when my wife and I followed God’s call to relocate from Dallas to our hometown of Mobile, Alabama to plant a new church, Community of Kindness by Steve Sjogren became my textbook. There was no doubt that this new work would be founded on Servant Evangelism. As our vision for the city grew, so did the church, and so did our creativity. And as good as it was, there was still something more to come, something that would take everything I knew to a new level.
In March of 2006, I stood next to my friend as the Lord completely, immediately, and irrevocably healed him of Parkinson’s Disease. The very next week, as my friend and mentor Jack Taylor was preaching at our church, he said something that tattooed itself on my spirit: “Let me tell you what has happened– you have been blown into Kingdom come.” And it was true. I realized, in that moment, that I was now an eyewitness to the truth of the what John Wimber had taught with such wisdom and influence in the 1980s: the Kingdom of God is here.
As the people of our new church, Deeper Life Fellowship, and I began to really seek this present rule and reign of God, we began to see Him demonstrate it in wonderful ways. And naturally, this seeking of the Kingdom and this serving of the people began to meld into one cohesive event. We found that now, Servant Evangelism had been endowed with power from on high. It is a wonderful, Spirit-directed, life-filled activity to show the kindness and love of God to people who are walking in darkness and may not even know it. But I believe that is only the beginning.
On December 4, 2010, we held another Gas Buydown. This is where we, in cooperation with a local gas station, buy the price of gasoline down 20 cents per gallon for two hours. During those two hours, we have the opportunity to pump gas, wash windshields, give out bottled water and soft drinks, and pray for dozens and dozens of people. On this particular day, as my wife was asking one of the customers how we could pray for her, the woman said that we could pray for her niece, who was suffering serious side effects from juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. The little girl had gone blind in her left eye. My wife quickly motioned me over when she realized that the niece was right there in the car, and we immediately began to pray “Kingdom Come” prayers for her. And there, in a gas station parking lot, on a Saturday afternoon, that 8-year old girl received her sight in her blind left eye!
I love the power of kindness, and I love the power of the rule and reign of God. And the good news is, they are connected at the hip. Servant Evangelism for the sake of being kind is a wonderful, anointed God-activity. But it is also the railway on which the freight train of God’s power barrels into every darkened corner of our cities, delivering its cargo of hope, healing, and the supremacy of His Kingdom into every heart that will receive it.