The Drowning Man

by Marlin Hoover

I’ve always heard the term evangelism at church but have never really understood exactly what it meant. All I knew is it’s one of those words that comes after a “the” and before “committee” that nobody wants to be involved in. Seems I’ve always felt it was complicated. I figured a person needed to have earned a Doctor of Practical Theology degree or at least a Bachelor of Religious Education degree to evangelize. It sounded labor intensive, burdensome and tough. Besides, I’m sure it would take a lot of time that I just don’t have to spare. I just knew it would be a hard thing to do and that I just wasn’t cut out for it. Somebody else should do it. I’ve learned different.

There was a story in the news back in July that I read and having thought about it, seemed to clarify to me exactly what evangelism is. The associated press reported:

Authorities in Florida say a group of teens watched and laughed as a man drowned in a retention pond last week.

Jamel Dunn drowned in a retention pond in the city of Cocoa on July 9. Police say they later discovered a group of teens recorded the 31-year-old’s drowning on video. The video was released by the state attorney’s office Thursday.

The teens can be heard laughing at Dunn, telling him he’s going to die and they weren’t going to help him.

Police identified and interviewed the five teens involved. Police Chief Mike Cataloupe calls their actions “utterly inhumane and cruel,” but says criminal charges won’t be filed because state law doesn’t require people give or call for help when someone’s in distress.

Is that not sad, that there are people in this world not willing to help another in a life threatening situation, to just watch them die and do nothing to help? A Christian would never let this happen, right? A Christian would have jumped right in there and done whatever necessary to save that person’s life, wouldn’t they?

Unlike Florida state law, as a Christian, Jesus does require me to help everybody I see in not just physical, but more importantly, spiritual danger. OK, I can understand that, but how is it that I’m to help these spiritually drowning people to get saved? I’ve learned the way to do this is to reach out to the drowning people on a personal level. To share with them the “Good News” found in the Bible.

Jesus tells us: “So wherever you go in the world, tell everyone the Good News.” Mark 16:15

People need to know that Jesus loves them and longs to save them from drowning in their sins. He wants to save everybody. This is the good news I’m supposed to share with the world. Jesus wants everyone to know about Him. He suffered a horrible death so that all of mankind could be reconciled to the Father. The only way for that truth to be known is for someone to share it. As Christians, WE are that someone.

I know of or see someone every day that has a true spiritual thirst and has fallen into the waters of the world trying to quench it, and is drowning. What am I doing about it? I’ll tell you what I’ve been doing, pretty much nothing.

Without a doubt it would really bother me watching someone drown physically without trying to help them but somehow seem to have no problem watching someone drown spiritually. As a Christian I’m supposed to be outreaching the spiritual life-saving salvation of Jesus’ sacrifice through my evangelism, my sharing of the Word of God to anybody I see in trouble. Problem is, I don’t. I keep my spiritual hands tucked under my worldly arm pits and do nothing.

I have countless opportunities to make a life-saving difference in other people’s lives. I’m given chances to share the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ every day. I’m given all kinds of chances to evangelize, to reach out, to share God’s saving grace with others and give them a drink of the “Living Water” but I do nothing and just watch them drown in the waters of the world.

I need to realize that just a sip of scripture in the cup of concern, carefully placed with loving care in the hand of a drowning person, can make a life-saving difference. It’s this sharing that can be the one thing that leads a drowning person to God’s saving grace. Evangelism is not sharing my personal testimony, it’s not defending the faith or doing works of charity, even though these acts may accompany evangelism. Evangelism is simply speaking words. It’s sharing the Word of God. Unfortunately, I’m not using the opportunities I’m given. I’m doing nothing. What I’m doing is utterly un-Christian and cruel. I’m sure Jesus can’t believe that I call myself a Christian but never share the “Good News” with pretty much anybody.

I had a dream one night shortly after reading the news story about the drowning man. In the dream I was doing just what those kids were doing; watching not just one, but a group of people thrashing around in the water, drowning. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder and I turned around and there was Jesus. I knew it was Him, He had the most loving look in His eyes but a look of such disappointment on His face. He put a hand on each of my shoulders and looked me right in the eye and as tears rolled down His cheek He said to me:

Don’t you see, and hear the pleas
Of all the people sinking down?
Don’t you care, why don’t you share
Are you gonna let them drown?

I was sooo ashamed. I could no longer look Him in the eye, I could only look down. I’ve never appreciated the power, the responsibility, the requirement of a Christian to evangelize, to share Jesus with everybody. As I stood there I wondered, how many people have spiritually drowned because I did nothing?

We all know the Bible verse: “Jesus wept.” (John 11:35) Having seen those tears rolling down Jesus’ face in that dream I without any doubt know that our Lord experiences the same sorrow and sadness that we do. He loves these drowning people, just like we’re supposed to!

Jesus is crying today because there are people like me that call themselves Christians but are not willing to help another in an eternal life threatening situation. We just watch them spiritually drowning and never share the life saving “good news” with them.

Jesus tells us to: “…Love each other in the same way that I have loved you.” (John 13:34–35)

Would you let a loved one drown and do nothing to help? As a Christian I have to jump right in there and do whatever’s necessary to give that person the opportunity to have Jesus save their spiritual life. I’ve got to start spreading the “Good News” of the life-saving salvation of Jesus’ sacrifice and God’s grace. It’s through my evangelism, my sharing of the Word of God (the Good News) to everybody that this happens.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

This is the “Good News” we need to share with everybody.

Don’t just stand there like I’ve been doing; watching people drown. Let’s study the Bible and learn the “good news” sharing techniques Jesus teaches us in the example in the life He lived. Let’s equip ourselves with the scripture, the Word of God. Let’s get out there and evangelize! Let’s reach out, pull people out of the water of the world and give them a drink of the “Living Water.” It’s not complicated, labor intensive, burdensome or tough. The only degree we need to be concerned with, is the degree we’re willing to go to in order to do God’s will, sharing His word with others. It’s not a hard thing to do.

Ask yourself, what’s a human life worth? Is it worth spending a minute of your time to save one? Have you ever wondered what a person’s soul is worth? To God it was worth giving His only Son to save one.

Shouldn’t it be worth us spending a little of our time sharing God’s word with others to save one?

I’ve learned this is evangelism! It’s nothing more, nothing less. It’s simply taking a little time to share the “Good News” with others.

Brother Randy tells us most Sundays: “That’s what the Book says and the Book never lies.”

I’m asking you to: Share what the Book says because the Book, it saves lives.