Book of the Month - October
The Brokenhearted Evangelist Reviewed
by Vincent Nicotra
There are probably none who would disagree with the idea that as believers we ought to live out what we say we believe. In particular, what we believe about heaven, hell, sin, mankind, souls, and salvation, ought to effect how we think, pray, speak, and act. In short, if we believe the truths inherent in the gospel, and recognize God’s mercy toward us, then we should feel compelled to invite as many others as we can find, to come and partake with us in the blessings of the gospel of our salvation. Jeremy Walker argues for just such a position in his book, The Brokenhearted Evangelist. Walker has structured the content of his book around a series of five questions, which are aimed challenging us in our willingness, effectiveness, commitment, focus, and fruit of evangelism. His answers to these challenging areas are essentially that we have been given the obligation, the equipment, the appointed means, the declared aim, and the expectation, which all should compel us toward greater participation in evangelism. According to Walker, church history is loaded with examples of those who felt an urgency to communicate the gospel, and yet, it can equally be said that many throughout church history have not felt so compelled. He argues, that the difference between the two essentially boils down to one’s character and conviction (8). Our own brokenness before God should be what motivates us to this great calling. If we really understand what God has done for us, then it should drive us to share the good news with others. Walker says that such an example of broken character and humility before God can be seen in the great King David of Israel. Walker uses this “brokenhearted evangelist,” and his penitent prayer of Psalm 51, as an example of what should drive the church to evangelism in our day. In fact, chapters two and three develops David’s confession, repentance, forgiveness, and pledge to God to “teach transgressors your ways” (72), as the model and basis for evangelism. These, along with significant quotes from preachers of bygone eras of church history, form the backbone of the book. While King David is obviously not a Christian, his brokenness before God over his own sin, his repentance, and his desire to tell others about the grace and forgiveness of God which he received are all noteworthy examples for believers to follow today. One can certainly learn significant lessons from his interaction with God as he moves from condemnation to forgiveness, and then to being a witness. Chapters Four and Five address the issues of aiming at the right target and the outcome of our evangelism, respectively. Using an archery illustration, Walker exhorts his readers in Chapter Four to be sure to shoot our arrows of evangelism at the right target. In our preaching of the gospel we are not supposed to aim at drawing attention to ourselves, nor are we to aim at merely convert people to social acceptability, citizenship, or good churchmanship. We are supposed to aim at the bull’s-eye of conversion to Jesus Christ (118). In Chapter Five, the author challenges his readers to consider their fruitfulness at this task, and offers encouragement to them if their results have been less than satisfactory. The bottom line is that the results rest in God’s power, not ours, so we should not be discouraged or downcast. We are simply to be faithful witnesses. While there are many books on the market, which discuss the topic of evangelism, few really challenge us to look at our own relationship with God as the primary motivation for doing evangelism. I believe walker has done this in a compelling and readable way. If you are someone who struggles with sharing your faith, I am convinced that you will be challenged, encouraged, and motivated to be more evangelistic through the reading of this book.