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Local Church Evangelism

So what can we learn from reading about the success story of the Brooklyn Tabernacle in Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire? What makes their local church evangelism so successful and powerful? 1) Their evangelism is driven by the Holy Spirit, brought into action from prevailing intercessory prayer. People turned on by the Holy Spirit let the love of Christ within them shine out to those in need within the community through good deeds, good works they perform. 2) Then those people in need, warmed buy the love of Christ respond to the preached gospel of Christ and receive salvation. Let me explain. Work parties would go down into the "bad" sections of Brooklyn handing out blankets, and then invite any who wanted to go back for a warm meal and church service. Holy Spirit led good works coupled to the preaching of the gospel is a powerful form of direct local church evangelism. Usually what would happen is that a local member would spot a need somewhere in the community, and then communicate that need back to Pastor Cymbala. Pastor Cymbala would then assign a work party to that individual, who would then lead it to fulfill its task of mercy, coupled to an invitation back to church. Say someone in church heard of say a single mom with two daughters who needed assistance in moving from a house they're renting to an apartment in another town. She is on government assistance and can't afford a moving van or to hire anyone. The person who knows about this communicates this to the pastor. When a sizeable work party shows up with a moving van and moves her within three hours from start to finish and she knows its from this person's church, she sees the care and concern these people have for her. So many showed up, just for her. Her desire is to be with these warm people, so she asks when and when services are. Now let's look at this same scenario, had only two people showed up, one the person who found out, and another friend. They rent a moving van, work real hard, and seven and a half hours later, with the mom's relatives having to show up, she's finally moved into the apartment. These two church members worked their "tails" off, and the lady saw their love and concern, but must come to the conclusion that these people are good caring Christians, but she's not so sure about their whole congregation. I hope you are beginning to see that true evangelism is composed of two components--the preached gospel of Christ and the demonstrated gospel of Christ. You may ask at this point, "Where did Jesus say that good works were an important element of the gospel?" Let's see. Matthew 25:34-40. "Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.' Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?' The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

So a pastor is a coordinator and facilitator of promoting the Gospel by and through directing his "soldiers in Christ" to spiritual "hot spots", areas of need in the community, which have been brought to his attention by local members--acting out the part of recon scouts in the advance of the Gospel. The local pastor is also in charge of preaching the gospel of Christ, the Word of God in a simple, clear way.

So we see, local church evangelism marches forward on two legs, both being empowered by the Holy Spirit:

  1. Good works (Matthew 25:34-40).
  2. The preaching of the Word of God, the Gospel of Christ.

What follows are some incredible excerpts from Pastor Jim Cymbala's book Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire. This book should be ordered and read in its entirety to see just how Pastor Cymbala applied these powerful principles of local church evangelism through the power of answered prevailing prayer and the Holy Spirit. You can order this book online from either:

http://www.amazon.com or http://Christianbooks.com

Evangelism in Action!

In 1972, the Brooklyn Tabernacle's spark was almost out. Then the Holy Spirit lit a fire that couldn't be quenched. Here are some short excerpts from pastor Jim Cymbala's incredible story about evangelism in action, taken from his book "FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE". This book is a must for any individual, pastor or church congregation who earnestly desire to know the true secret of evangelizing and Christian church growth.

pp. 57-58, "Trouble is one of God's great servants because it reminds us how much we continually need the Lord."

p. 58, "Prayer begets Revival, which begets more prayer."

p. 59, "The reason "other churches" don't grow: "Jim, the truth is, I couldn’t have a real prayer meeting in my church. I'd be embarrassed at the smallness of the crowd…"

p.66, "Persistent calling upon the name of the Lord breaks through every stronghold of the devil, for nothing is impossible with God. For Christians in these troubled times there is simply no other way."

p. 69, For all of us involved in preaching the gospel, performing music, publishing Christian materials, and all the rest, there is an uncomfortable message here: Jesus is not terribly impressed with religious commercialism (Mark 11:15-18). p. 70, I am dismayed by the contracts required by some contemporary musical groups. To perform a concert at your church, the stated fee will be so much (in either four or five figures) plus round trip airfare--often first class, not coach. Every detail of the accommodations is spelled out, down to "sushi for twenty persons" waiting at the hotel, in one case. All this is done so that the group can stand before an inner-city audience and exhort the people to "just trust the Lord for all your needs." …The first century money changers were in the temple, but they didn't have the spirit of the temple…They were out of sync with the whole purpose of the Lord's house. "The atmosphere of my Father's house," Jesus seemed to say, "is to be prayer. The aroma around my Father must be that of people opening their hearts in worship and supplication. This is not a place to make a buck. This is a house for calling on the Lord."

p. 71, "The feature that's supposed to distinguish Christian Churches, Christian gatherings is the aroma of prayer…Does the Bible ever say anywhere from Genesis to Revelation "My house shall be called a house of preaching?" Does it ever say, "My house shall be called a house of music?" Of course not. The Bible does say, "My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations." Preaching, music, the reading of the Word--these things are fine--but they must never override prayer as the defining mark of God's dwelling.

p. 72, "What does it say about our churches today that God birthed the church in a prayer meeting, and prayer meetings today are almost extinct?"

"The Secret of Grace"

pp. 80-81, "Paul outlines in Romans 10:13-15 a chain of events that describes New Testament salvation: "Every one who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?" Churches often refer to this passage in connection with overseas missionary work. "We need to give a good offering today in order to send out preachers" they say--which is true. But that is just the beginning of Paul's sequence. Sending leads to preaching. Preaching leads to hearing, hearing leads to believing [faith], [and] believing [faith] leads to calling on the name of the Lord." Notice that believing is not the climax…There is one more step for demonstrating a real and living faith, and that is calling out to God with all of one's heart and soul. The clearest instructions about Church life come in the Pastoral Letters where Paul tells young pastors such as Timothy…"I urge then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone…In the same chapter (vs. 8) Paul says, "I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing." That is a sign of the Christian Church.

p. 83, "Over the last 30 years more books have been written about marriage than in all the preceding 2,000 years of church history. But ask any pastor in America if there aren't proportionally more troubled marriages today than in any other era. We have the how-to's, but homes are still falling apart. The couple that prays together stays together. I don't mean to be simplistic; there will be difficult moments in any union, but God's Word is true when it says, "Call upon me, and I will help you. Just give me a chance." The same holds true for parenting…"

Again J.B. Phillips points out a great insight:

"The Holy Spirit has a way of short-circuiting human problems. Indeed, in exactly the same way as Jesus Christ in the flesh cut right through the matted layers of tradition and exposed the real issue;…so we find here [in Acts] the Spirit of Jesus dealing not so much with problems as with people. Many problems comparable to modern complexities never arise here because the men and women concerned were of one heart and mind in the Spirit…Since God's Holy Spirit cannot conceivably have changed one iota through the centuries,…He is perfectly prepared to short-circuit, by an inflow of love, wisdom and understanding, many human problems today."

p. 86, "God says to us, "Pray, because I have all kinds of things for you; and when you ask, you will receive. I have all this grace, and you live with scarcity. Come unto me, all you who labor. Why are you so rushed? Where are you running now? Everything you need, I have."

If the times are indeed as bad as we say they are…if the darkness in our world is growing heavier by the moment…if we are facing spiritual battles right in our own homes and churches…then we are foolish not to turn to the One who supplies unlimited grace and power. He is our only source. We are crazy to ignore him."

p. 97, "The key in not money; organization, cleverness, or education. Are you and I seeing the results Peter saw? Are we bringing thousands of men and women to Christ the way he did? [pastor Cymbala can rightfully ask these questions.] If not, we need to get back to His power source…"

p. 103, "When we get serious about drawing on God's power, remarkable things will happen." Acts 4:1-3, 4-14,18,21-31. "The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. They had brought Peter and John before them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?' Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple [Acts 3] and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.' When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say…Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus…After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When the people heard this they raised their voices together in prayer to God. 'Sovereign Lord,' they said, 'you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.' After they had prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly."

What you just read was an early Christian prayer meeting, held to meet a governmental threat head-on--David and Goliath style.

p. 105, The prayer of the early believers recorded in Acts 4 highlights three fundamentals from which we are in danger of sliding away: [1] "Enable your servants to speak your word…[2] with great boldness…[3] Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders" (vv. 29-30)."

p. 112, "The trouble with man-made novelties is that they don't produce the impressive results that are often advertised."

p. 113, "There is no better example of God's moving mightily in a city than the account told in Acts 11:20-21, "…men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks…telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord." Such a harvest occurred that Barnabas was dispatched from Jerusalem to check things out. "When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad…And a great number of people were brought to the Lord" (vv. 23-24). Who were these men who launched such a mighty church…? We don't know their names. We don't know their methodology…whether they were pre-millennial or postmillennial or amillennial. But we do know a couple of things: They spread "the Good News about the Lord Jesus," and "the Lord's hand was with them" (vv. 20-21)."

p. 115, "Let's forget the novelties. If we prevail in prayer, God will do only what he can do. How he does things, when he does them, and in what manner are up to him. The name of Jesus, the power of his blood, and the prayer of faith have never lost their power over the centuries."

p. 121, "When I ask fellow pastors the same question, I get the same answer--plus two others: "Membership is at five-fifty, we've just finished a new education wing, and our gross income this year will top out at $400,000." Attendance, Buildings, and Cash, A-B-C. The new holy trinity."

p. 122, "No church, including the one I pastor, should be measured by its attendance."

pp. 122-123, "Then what kind of spiritual things DO matter in a book-of-Acts church? The apostles' prayer in Acts 4 provides our next benchmark: [2] "Enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness" (v. 29). What the disciples wanted was not numbers but an essential quality that would keep them BEING the church God intended. Boldness can only be imparted by the Holy Spirit."

p. 124, "The apostles realized that without a bold aggressive attitude in proclaiming God's Word, they would not build the church Jesus intended, the apostles weren't trying to finesse people. They had not the faintest intention of asking, "What do people want to hear? How can we draw people to church on Sunday?"…The Bible does not say we should aim at numbers but rather urges us faithfully to proclaim God's message in the boldness of the Holy Spirit. This will build God's church God's way."

p. 125, "God nowhere asks anyone to have a large church. He only calls us to do his work, proclaiming his Word to people he loves under anointing power of the Holy Spirit to produce results that only he can bring about."

p. 135, ""There will come a day, Paul says, when all our work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work" (I Cor. 3:13). The gold, silver, and precious stones will endure while the wood, hay, and straw will go up in smoke. Paul doesn't say that the QUANTITY will be tested. He says nothing about attendance totals. Everything will focus on QUALITY… "What's the difference between these materials, besides the obvious--that one group is fireproof while the other isn't?" Wood, hay, straw are abundant…But if you want gold, silver, and costly stones, you have to "dig" for them. They're not just lying around everywhere. You have to go deep into the earth. To me, these words are profound. Spiritual "construction" that uses wood, hay and straw comes easy--little work, little seeking, no travail, no birthing. You just slap it up and it will look adequate--for awhile. But if you want to build something that will endure on Judgment Day, the work is much more costly."

p. 138, [Part III of the Acts 4 formula], "BEYOND HEAD KNOWLEDGE: The absent element is what is expressed in the final sentence of the prayer recorded in Acts 4: [3] "Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders.""

p. 139, "In too many churches today, people don't see manifestations of God's power in answer to fervent praying. Instead, they hear arguments about theological issues that few people care about."

p. 140, "People pay attention when they see that God actually changes persons and sets them free. When a new Christian stands up and tells how God has revolutionized his or her life, no one dozes off. When someone is healed or released from a life-controlling bondage, everyone takes notice. William Law, an English devotional writer of the early 1700's wrote, "Read whatever chapter of Scripture you will, and be ever so delighted with it--yet it will leave you as poor, as empty and unchanged as it found you unless it has turned you wholly and solely to the Spirit of God, and brought you into full union with and dependence upon Him."

One way to recognize whether we suffer from this disconnection is to look at our concern for people who are dirty…people who are "other"…people who don't fit the core group's image. The ravages of sin are not pleasant--but they are what Jesus came to forgive and heal. "The Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost" (Luke 19:10). Yet Christians often hesitate to reach out to those who are different. They want God to clean the fish before they catch them."

That is the "Magic" formula for Evangelism,

Christian growth and revival. Now let's see that "formula" applied--in action--and finally witness the end results.

p. 141, "I shall never forget Easter Sunday 1992--the day that Roberta Langella gave her dramatic testimony, as I recounted in chapter 3. A homeless man was standing in the back of the church, listening intently.

At the end of the evening meeting I sat down on the edge of the platform, exhausted, as others continued to pray with those who had responded to Christ. The organist was playing quietly. I wanted to relax. I was just starting to unwind when I looked up to see this man, with shabby clothing and matted hair, standing in the center aisle about four rows back and waiting for permission to approach me.

I nodded and gave him a weak little wave of my hand. 'Look at how this Easter Sunday is going to end,' I thought to myself. 'He's going to hit me up for money.' That happens often in this church. 'I'm so tired…'

When he came close, I saw that his two front teeth were missing. But more striking was his odor--the mixture of alcohol, sweat, urine, and garbage took my breath away. I have been around many street people, but this was the strongest stench I have ever encountered. I instinctively had to turn my head sideways to inhale, then look back in his direction while breathing out.

I asked his name.

"David," he said softly.

"How long have you been homeless, David?"

"Six years."

"Where did you sleep last night?"

"In an abandoned truck."

I had heard enough and wanted to get this over quickly. I reached for the money clip in my back pocket.

At that moment David put his finger in front of my face and said, "No, you don't understand--I don't want your money. I'm going to die out there. I want the Jesus that red-haired girl talked about."

I hesitated, then closed my eyes. 'God forgive me,' I begged. I felt soiled and cheap. Me, a minister of the gospel…I had wanted simply to get rid of him, when he was crying out for the help of Christ I had just preached about. I swallowed hard as God's love flooded my soul.

David sensed the change in me. He moved toward me and fell on my chest, burying his grimy head against my white shirt and tie. Holding him close, I talked to him about Jesus' love. There weren't just words; I felt them. I felt love for this pitiful man. And that smell…I don't know how to explain it. It had almost made me sick, but now it became the most powerful fragrance to me. I reveled in what had been repulsive just a moment ago.

The Lord seemed to say to me in that instant, 'Jim, if you and your wife have any value to me, if you have any purpose in my work--it has to do with this odor. This is the smell of the world I died for.'

David surrendered to the Christ he heard about that night. We got him into a hospital detoxification unit for a week. We got his teeth fixed. [Remember the parable of the Good Samaritan--this Christian church and pastor are putting it into practice the way Jesus intended it to be!] He joined the Prayer Band right away. He spent the next Thanksgiving Day in our home. We invited him back for Christmas as well…Today David heads up the maintenance department at the church, overseeing ten other employees. He is now married and a father. God is opening more and more doors for him to go out and give his testimony. When he speaks, his words have a weight and an impact that many ordained ministers would covet.

As Christians reach out to touch everyone, including the unlovely who are now everywhere in our society, God touches them, too--and revolutionizes their lives. Otherwise we would just be circling the wagons, busying ourselves with Bible studies among our own kind. There is no demonstration of God's power because we have closed ourselves off from the 'need' for such demonstration."

p. 144, "Once again, William Law writes: 'We may take for a certain rule, that the more the divine nature and life of Jesus is manifest in us, and the higher our sense of righteousness and virtue, the more we shall pity and love those who are suffering from the blindness, disease, and death of sin. The sight of such people then, instead of raising in us a haughty contempt or holier-than-thou indignation, will rather fill us with such tenderness and compassion as when we see the miseries of a dread disease.' Carol and I have found that unless God baptizes us with fresh outpourings of love, we would leave New York City YESTERDAY!"

p. 145, "If the Spirit is not keeping my heart in line with my doctrine, something crucial is missing."

p. 147, "People must not only hear but feel, see, and experience the grace of God we speak about. As we open up our church meetings to God's power, they will not always follow a predetermined schedule or order. Who can outline what God might have in mind?"

p. 149, "The prayer of the Jerusalem believers recorded in Acts 4 it says in essence, 'God, please don't send us out there alone just talking. Work with us; confirm your message in a supernatural way.' What way and in what manner was left entirely (and rightfully) to God alone."

"Charles Finney, the lawyer turned evangelist, once said that as long as an audience kept looking at him while he preached, he knew he was failing. Only when their heads began dropping in deep conviction of sin did he know that God was working alongside him, producing a heart change inside. The words of sound doctrine alone were not enough.

In fact, revivals have never been dominated by eloquent or clever preaching. If you had timed meetings with a stopwatch you would have found far more minutes given to prayer, weeping, and repentance than to sermons. In the "Prayer-Meeting Revival" of 1857-59 there was virtually no preaching at all. Yet it apparently produced the greatest harvest of any spiritual awakening in American history: Estimates run to 1,000,000 converts across the United States, out of a national population at that time of only 30,000,000. That would be proportionate to 9,000,000 Americans today falling on their knees in repentance! How did this happen?" [Read how this happened in pastor Cymbala's book, pages 149-150.]

p. 150, "Does anyone today think that America today is lacking preachers, books, Bible translations, and neat doctrinal statements? What we really lack is the passion to call upon the Lord until he opens the heavens and shows himself powerful.

Let me make a bold statement! [this whole book is a bold statement, pastor Cymbala!] Christianity is not predominantly a teaching religion. We have been almost overrun these days by the cult of the speaker…The North American church has made the sermon the centerpiece of the meeting, rather than the throne of Grace, where God acts in people's lives."

p. 151, "The Jewish faith in Jesus' day was dominated by rabbis--teachers of the Law. Their doctrine was thorough. Jesus told them, "You diligently study the Scriptures because you think by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (John 5:39-40). They knew the written Word of God very well, but not the living Word of God, even as he stood before them."

Christianity is not predominantly a teaching religion…the teaching of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the Supernatural.

The Scriptures are not so much the goal as they are an arrow that points us to the life-changing Christ…It is fine to explain about God, but far too few people today are experiencing the living Christ in their lives. We are not seeing God's visitation in our gatherings. We are not on the lookout for his outstretched hand. The teaching of sound doctrine is a prelude, if you will, to the supernatural. It is also a guide, a set of boundaries to keep emotion and exuberance within proper channels [cf. I Cor. 11-14].

p. 152, "Granted, extremists have done fanatical things in the name of the Holy Spirit that have frightened many sincere Christians away. Chaotic meetings with silly things going on and a lack of reverence for God have driven many to prefer a quiet orderly lecture. But this is just another tactic of the enemy to make us throw out the baby with the bathwater. Satan's tendency is always to push us toward one extreme or the other: deadness or fanaticism…The old saying is true: If you have only the Word, you dry up. If you have only the Spirit, you blow up. But if you have both, you grow up.

More than 200 years ago William Law bluntly declared…"The Jews refused Him who was the substance and fulfilling of all that was taught in their Law and Prophets. The Christian Church is in a fallen state for the same rejection of the Holy Spirit." He said further that just as the Jews refused Jesus and quote Scripture to prove their point, "so church leaders today reject the demonstration and power of the Holy Spirit in the name of sound doctrine." What would the Englishman say if he were alive today?"

p. 153, "North American churches must no longer accept the status quo. No more neat little meetings, even with the benefit of 100 percent correct doctrine…Shouldn't we expect to SEE Him in action once in a while? Shouldn't we implore him to manifest Himself? Moses did. Joshua did. Elijah did. Elisha did. Peter did. Philip did. Paul did. Shouldn't we? God will manifest himself in direct proportion to our passion for him. The principle he laid down long ago is still true: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with ALL your heart" (Jer. 29:13).

pp. 173-177,

"You and I will never know our potential under God until we step out and take risks on the front line of battle."

"In verses 12-14 [of I Chronicles 11] we meet Eleazar, who accompanied David into a major battle with the Philistines. We get an idea of how formidable the enemy was when the Bible says, "At a place where there was a field full of barley, the troops fled from the Philistines." This was no minor skirmish; this was all-out combat against a superior opponent. Many frightened Israelite soldiers saw the coming horde and ran for their lives.

But not Eleazar. He and David "took their stand in the middle of the field. They defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought a great victory." Once again we see the combination of human and divine efforts. God did not act alone. He didn't unleash a lightning strike from heaven to fry the Philistines. Instead, he was looking all across the horizon that day to see who would stay in the barley field and thus receive his supernatural aid. While others left in fear, these two--David and Eleazar--stood firm.

The account in 2 Samuel 23:10 adds even more detail about Eleazar. He "stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword." He swung his weapon with such grit, such adrenaline, that his muscles locked up on him; he couldn't let go. Talk about a mighty warrior for God!

What the world's situation cries out for today is this kind of determined and desperate faith that grips the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and won't let go until victory comes.

A man such as Eleazar brings to mind the little-known, seldom-seen partner of the great evangelist Charles Finney during the Second Great Awakening. His name was Daniel Nash, and he had had a lackluster record as a pastor in upstate New York. He finally decided, at the age of forty-eight, to give himself totally to prayer for Finney's meetings.

"Father Nash," as some called him, would quietly slip into a town three or four weeks before Finney's arrival, rent a room, find two or three other like-minded Christians to join him, and start pleading with God. In one town the best he could find was a dark, damp cellar; it became his center for intercession.

In another place, Finney relates:

When I got to town to start a revival a lady contacted me who ran a boarding house. She said, "Brother Finney, do you now a Father Nash? He and two other men have been at my boarding house for the last three days, but they haven't eaten a bite of food. I opened the door and peeped in at them because I could hear them groaning, and I saw them down on their faces. They have been this way for three days, lying prostrate on the floor and groaning. I thought something awful must have happened to them. I was afraid to go in and I didn't know what to do. Would you please come and see about them?"

"No, it isn't necessary," I replied. "They just have a spirit of travail in prayer."

Once the public meetings began, Nash usually did not attend. He kept praying in his hideaway for the conviction of the Holy Spirit to melt the crowd. If opposition arose--as it often did in those rugged days of the 1820's--Finney would tell him about it, and Father Nash would bear down all the harder in prayer.

One time a group of young men openly announced that they were going to break up the meetings. Nash, after praying, came out of the shadows to confront them. "Now, mark me, young men! God will break your ranks in less than one week, either by converting some of you, or by sending some of you to hell. He will do this as certainly as the Lord is my God!"

Finney admits that at that point he thought his friend had gone over the edge. But the next Tuesday morning, the leader of the group suddenly showed up. He broke down before Finney, confessed his sinful attitude, and gave himself to Christ.

"What shall I do, Mr. Finney?" he asked then. The evangelist sent him back to tell his companions what had changed in his life. Before the week was out, "Nearly if not all of that class [group] of young men were hoping in Christ," Finney reported.

In 1826 a mob in a certain town burned effigies of the two: Finney and Nash. These unbelievers recognized that one man was as big a threat to their wickedness as the other. Shortly before Nash died in the winter of 1831, he wrote in a letter,

I am now convinced, it is my duty and privilege, and the duty of every other Christian, to pray for as much of the Holy Spirit as came down on the day of Pentecost, and a great deal more…My body is in pain, but I am happy in my God…I have only just begun to understand what Jesus meant when He said, "All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Within four months of Nash's death, Finney left the itinerant field to become the pastor of a church in New York City. His partner in cracking the gates of hell was gone…Daniel Nash was a nobody to the elite of his time. They would have found this humble man not worthy of comment because he lived on a totally different plane. But you can be sure that he was known all too well in both heaven and hell…

p. 179, "Consider how many gospel-preaching churches there are in the fifty states of America--200,000, if not more. If each of these churches, on average, brought only two converts to Christ a week--not robbing people from the First Baptist or First Nazarene down the road, but winning new people for the kingdom of God--that would mean 100 new baptized believers in each church in a year's time, or 20,000,000, nationwide.

The population of the entire United States is about 270,000,000. By merely bringing eight or nine people a month to Christ in each church, America would be dramatically changed within two or three years. Can any serious Bible-preaching church not take on this modest goal in the name of its King?

God's plan for the local church has always centered in evangelism. Those brought to Christ are thus born into the very place where they can be nurtured and discipled. This avoids the slippage we often see when parachurch ministries try to do the work mainly assigned to the local church.

An evangelistic focus, of course, would force us back to serious prayer and an emphasis on the simple gospel of Jesus Christ. God would prepare us as only he can for victorious spiritual warfare. Concerned believers wouldn't have time to watch as much television as they do now. A lot of other activities would have to give way. Living in the Bible, as calling upon the Lord, fasting, and then reaching out to the unsaved would consume us. We would require God's anointing, whatever the cost.

Some churches in very small towns might have trouble reaching 100 people per year, but they would be offset by the churches in urban areas, where the need and the opportunity are so great.

If the American church actually set out to do this "exploit" for God, bringing 20,000,000 to Christ this year, another 20,000,000 next year…in three or four years we wouldn't recognize our culture. Broadway and Hollywood would have to acknowledge the shift in audience preferences. Abortion clinics would wonder where all their customers went [and I say, without the noisy confrontation we see so much of now, this would be a quiet revolution of people following Christ and avoiding this evil crime in their own lives]. Drug abuse would plummet.

Some will accuse me of idealistic dreaming, but isn't this plan the last thing Jesus told us to fulfill before his ascension? "Go and make disciples of all nations," he said, "baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20). What will it take to shake denominational leaders, pastors, and laypeople, seeing that we all must answer to Christ at the Judgment Seat one day? Our sense of inadequacy is no excuse, given that he has promised to work with us as we set our hearts to the task of extending his kingdom."

The following is taken from the front and back flap of Jim Cymbala's book, Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire:

THE TIMES ARE URGENT, GOD IS ON THE MOVE, NOW IS THE MOMENT TO…

Jim Cymbala believes that Jesus wants nothing more than to renew and revive his people--to call us back from spiritual dead ends that lead only to apathy and lukewarm religion.

As pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, one of America's most remarkable churches, he knows firsthand the transforming power of God's love--strong enough to convert prostitutes, pimps, drug addicts, homeless people, and transvestites. Strong enough to draw professional men and women, blacks, whites, and Hispanics together in worship. Strong enough to rekindle our own dull hearts and flagging spirits.

Twenty-five years ago, the Brooklyn Tabernacle could barely draw twenty people to a Sunday service. Today it is six thousand strong, a testament of what God can do when men and women begin to pour out their hearts to God.

The story of what has happened to a broken-down church in one of America's meanest neighborhoods points the way to new spiritual vitality in the church and in your own life. But don't look in this book for faddish techniques--you won't find them. And while the Tabernacle today has an interracial membership and a world-renowned choir, don't look for an emphasis on cross-culturalism, numbers, or well-orchestrated worship music.

Instead, look for what God can do when a handful of people humble themselves and take the Gospel seriously. When believers turn to their last and only recourse--their knees--and discover there the life-changing reality of the Holy Spirit.

Whether you're a pastor or a layperson, if you're hungry for more of God, this book will break your heart and restore your passion.

Jim Cymbala has been the pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle for twenty-five years. In that time the congregation has grown from twenty members to six thousand. He lives in New York City with his wife, Carol Cymbala, who directs the Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.

"FRESH WIND, FRESH FIRE" can be found in or ordered from most Christian bookstores or is available from the publisher,

Zondervan Publishing House,

Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530

US $16.99/ $22.99 CAN

ISBN O-310-21188-3

Zondervan Publishing House can be reached online at:

http://www.zondervan.com

The excerpts you just read were taken from Pastor Cymbala's book "Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire." These excerpts represent a very small portion of a book chock full of the miracles of answered prayer and how prevailing prayer fuels evangelism. Be sure to order the book for yourself and see how prayer can change your life and the life of the church you attend. You cannot read this book too much. Reading it makes you want to pray. Reading this book facilitates prayer. I honestly cannot say that about another book besides the Bible itself. This book should be an active, dog-eared addition of every Christian pastor's library. Application of the principles in this book will bring revival and growth to any and every person and congregation who apply it to their prayer lives. This is one of the few books which comes under the category of "You can't do without it."

Pete Benson

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