The Rev. Ray Jones took images that we have become all too familiar with in recent months and used them Tuesday to teach the importance of evangelism.
“The Gulf of Mexico has oil gushing in it and all over it,” said Jones, coordinator of Evangelism for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), during the Transforming Lives and Transforming Communities lunch.
“When you see those pictures and you see those animals,” Jones continued, “you realize that we live in a broken society. We are all broken, but we know of one man who was not. That man was Jesus, and through him we are no longer broken.”
“There are people outside the church that are broken and they want to know the Good News about this one person who was not broken.”
Jones, who has served as the PC(USA) evangelism coordinator for the past year and who has been a pastor for 26 years, cited scripture and shared personal stories of faith to inspire those in attendance to not be afraid of telling their stories of transformation.
“When we think of evangelism, we have a tendency to think of words and not images because the images cause us to wince,” said Jones. “What is evangelism? It is bringing the Good News into the community. It doesn’t matter whether we are an introvert or an extrovert — we all bring the Good News. And what is the Good News? The Good News is that we are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ.”
Jones shared the story of an upstart church just outside of Pittsburgh, Pa., and how it had slowly grown through reaching out to people in bars, tattoo parlors, homeless shelters and on street corners. He said that he was so inspired by a prayer group being held in the basement of a tattoo parlor that he decided that he would get a tattoo.
“Not a big one, mind you,” he said. “I had never wanted a tattoo before. I am in fact not a big fan of pain. But I was moved to get a small one. Just something that would show that I was part of something very, very special.”
He rolled up his sleeve and displayed a small cross on his forearm.
“In the church, we are all different,” Jones said. “We come from different backgrounds and different walks of life. The one thing that we do have in common – the one thing that draws us all together — is Jesus. That’s the Good News we have to share with the world.”
Jones told the group of a new PC(USA) resource that is coming out in October, called “Engaged.”
“It gives people an opportunity to witness and give their transformation stories,” Jones said. “Each of us has a story to tell about how our life has been changed through our personal relationship with Jesus Christ.”