Evangelistic, In Season & Out

May 12, 2014

Originally posted/titled February 13, 2014
at “Theological Matters.”
by Dr. Keith Eitel
Dean of the Roy Fish School of Evangelism and Missions
Professor of Missions
Director of the World Missions Center
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Fort Worth, Texas

In Season and Out: An Eye and An Ear for Evangelism

“Pol Pot is dead!” So the CNN report stated. On April 15, 1998 a mosquito executed that deadly evil despot responsible for the massacre of millions of Khmer. Malaria accomplished what courts, armies, and police could not, though the form of justice seemed hollow compared to his tragic killing fields. News filtered out in May.

My students and I were in Battambang, Cambodia, working in surrounding villages near Pol Pot’s jungle hideout. In the hotel, I met a young Canadian Army Lieutenant. With other NATO specialists, he was clearing landmines. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge factions randomly planted them without maps or in any semblance of order and that doubled the danger, even for removal. This Lieutenant faced life and death daily. Watching the CNN newsfeed in the commons area of the hotel prompted discussion. The Lieutenant was typically secular, but eternity entered the discussion when we wondered aloud as to why or how Pol Pot could escape any form of human justice. I told him that there is another court and certainly there will be eternal justice, and that the grace of God can cover all our sin, anyone’s sin.

Further into the trip, we entered a village where a corner, open-air drinking shop featured prominently and was nestled among the dwellings. There were three large TV’s playing, each with different movies, two kickboxing and one pornographic. The lady in charge, when asked, said she would enjoy seeing the Khmer film we had that is the most widely distributed film ever. It was the Jesus Film. She took out the pornographic movie, and inserted our VHS tape. She watched with great intent, and when the movie ended, we gave a brief translated invitation.

He asked, “Can this Jesus forgive me too? My hands are stained with too much blood!”

A weeping man came to talk. He asked, “Can this Jesus forgive me too? My hands are stained with too much blood!”

I assured him with God’s Word that indeed Jesus can—and promises He will—forgive; He even died and rose from the grave to prove it.

This man’s story unfolded, as repentance filled his heart. He told of his days as a Khmer Rouge commander during the most intensive times of the killing fields. His hands were blood stained with thousands of victims. I explained that Christ’s hands were stained, too, for very different reasons. That night, the commander was reborn, redeemed, forgiven!

I explained that Christ’s hands were stained, too, for very different reasons.

Paul said be ready to “preach the gospel in season or out” (2 Tim. 2:4). I take this to mean by planned intent seeking the lost or by serendipitous occasion that God prompts. Conversation with the Canadian Lieutenant was sudden and unplanned, prompted by a CNN report and a mosquito’s justice for a deserving despot. While we didn’t realize that the Khmer Rouge commander was even in the crowd at the start, nevertheless God brought him there that day as we planned to encounter lostness in that crowd. So “in season” or “out” we were there.

How often do we busy ourselves rushing through life not noticing the seasons?