Spiritual Gifts: The Gift of Evangelism
- The office
- The responsibility
John Harper was born in Scotland in 1872. He was converted at 14 and from an early age began to tell others about Jesus. He ended up planting a church in London with 25 members which grew to over 500 when he left 13 years later. He had married and was widowed but had a daughter. The Moody church in America sought out this fervent evangelist to run evangelistic meetings at his church. So he set off with his daughter to America on a ship. A few days into the journey, he woke up his daughter in the middle of the night because the ship was sinking, he put her on a lifeboat with a cousin. That ship was the Titanic. It was only a few months later at a prayer meeting in Ontario that what happened to John Harper come to light. A young Scotsman told the extraordinary story. ‘He explained that he had been on the Titanic the night it struck the iceberg. He clung to a piece of floating debris in the freezing waters. ‘Suddenly’ he said, ‘a wave brought a man near, John Harper. He, too, was holding a piece of wreckage. ‘He called out, ‘Man, are you saved?’ ‘No, I am not,’ I replied. He shouted back, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.’ ‘The waves bore [Harper] away, but a little later, he was washed back beside me again. ‘Are you saved now?’ he called out. ‘No,’ I answered. ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.’ ‘Then losing his hold on the wood, [Harper] sank. And there, alone in the night with two miles of water under me, I trusted Christ as my saviour. I am John Harper’s last convert.’
John Harper is someone who we would describe as having the gift of evangelism. This is the gift we will be considering today. Someone has said that evangelism is the world’s greatest initiative commanded by the world’s greatest person, yet there is confusion as to who should be doing it. Is it only for the apostles, is it only to be done by those who are ‘evangelists’, is it only to be done by the church or is it every Christians responsibility? The bible does speak of the office of the evangelist, so will look at what the bible means by the office and then look at the general responsibility of the church to fulfil the great commission.