By Luz Gonzales
Christ spoke to his disciples and said, “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matt 28:19). The King James Version says, “to preach the gospel.” Either way you want to read it, this is a command to evangelize the world. You and I—men and women, boys and girls, preachers and laypeople—are privileged to be called of God for this world-evangelization task. However, it seems to me that we commonly misinterpret this text to justify “sending missionaries to a foreign field,” and this is a mistake.
As a young convert in 1958, my prayer was, “Lord, send the preacher [under whom I was converted] to preach in Mexico so my people can be saved, too.” This was my daily heartcry. One night as I was praying, God clearly spoke to me and said, “How about you going?” I was stunned by this new revelation, perhaps because my religious background and training taught me that this was the type of job reserved for an elite group of clergy. But as far as God was concerned, Mexico was “my world.” Three months after this experience, which I consider my call to ministry, I was enrolled in Gulf-Coast Bible College in Houston, Texas. I only had fifteen dollars in my pocket, but I possessed a burning desire to serve the Lord.
Now I understand very well that “my world” is to help evangelize Mexico and Latin America. How do I know this is “my world”? I speak the language. I know the culture. And there are many people in these countries whom I know personally. Sharing Christ with these folks comes easier and more natural to me. They are my kind of people. While Latin America is my main focal point, I do not evade the responsibility of helping win my fellow citizens here in America to Christ, too. Let me share some thoughts with you which might help you as you go about making disciples:
Men of the church, your world is the factory or “marketplace” where you spend precious hours of each working day. Think of John, Sam, Mark, or Bill. You know they don’t attend any church. Their behavior and the language they use clearly reveals their impure hearts. To these, God calls you to evangelize…to be his witness .You are responsible for those with whom you rub shoulders each day in work or in pleasure. How about your friends on the golf course? This is your world, my friend. Don’t leave all the work to your pastor. He probably doesn’t even know these men, but you do.
Women of the church, if you hold a job outside the home, the contacts you make there are your world. If you don’t work outside the home, your world is your neighborhood. How about Mrs. Brown, or Mary, your next-door neighbors? How about those little “pagans” within the walls of your own home? There are countless opportunities to share Christ with others during the course of your busy day, ladies. Every time the telephone rings, it brings you an opportunity to witness for Christ…the way you talk, the things you say, the tone of voice you use. You can organize a Bible study group in your home; or have a coffee-hour time of sharing common concerns, to which you invite some neighborhood ladies. There are many disillusioned wives, families in turmoil, children running away from home, who need some loving concern which Christ through you can give. Yes, mom, you, too, can evangelize your world.
Youth of the church, you also have your world where Christ expects you to stand up for him. Your school, your homeroom or other classrooms, your sports arena, extracurricular activities—all present you with some fantastic opportunities to evangelize “your world.” Don’t simply try to invite people to church. You can lead them to the Lord right there in the gym, on the football field, or on the track field. Lift up Jesus in everything and let the people know you belong to him. Show them that Christ really makes a difference.
I’d like to close with my own paraphrase of Acts 5:42 so it will shed some light on our world: “And daily, in the church, in the factories, in the country clubs, in the schools, in the gym, and in the houses, the Christians ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” That’s what it’s going to take if we obey Christ’s Great Commission.
Luz Gonzales served as a Church of God missionary to Mexico, 1967–1970; and Costa Rica, 1971–1974. As a missionary-evangelist, Luz spent the last twenty years of his public ministry preaching in congregations across the United States, especially for missions conventions. He has also ministered in every Latin American country except Chile and Haiti. At 85 years of age, Luz Gonzales walks almost three miles every day. He and his wife Carol attend New Vida Church of God in Dallas, Texas.
Article originally published in the August 15, 1976, issue of Vital Christianity. Article republished by permission. Across the United States and around the world, God is on the move in the Church of God. Join the movement. Give life! Donate today at give.jesusisthesubject.org.