PICTURES OF EVANGELISM #1: FISH posted by Yuen Woh Voon on Dec 05, 2011
PICTURES OF EVANGELISM #1: FISH
I’m beginning a new series of blogs that will highlight different aspects of evangelism using pictures (or symbols) found in Scripture. The first one is FISH or FISHING.
In Matthew 4:19, Jesus said to Simon Peter and his brother Andrew who were fishermen, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The gospel writer records that they immediately left their nets and followed Jesus.
From catching fish, they have now been called to catch men for Christ. Since that time, the Holy Spirit has been calling men and women away from the affairs of this world to a life of catching men and women for God.
The word “fish” in Greek is itself an acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior” and the early church quickly used the fish as a symbol of the Christian faith. (see illustration above.)
The fish is not only an apt symbol for the Christian faith; fishing is also an apt analogy of evangelism.
Evangelism lessons from “fishing”:
We will have to go to where the fish are located if we are going to catch them. The fish will not come to you. Fishermen understand this and hire guides and boats to go to where the fish are located. It is futile to fish in an area where there are no fish. One has to locate the place where fish are and only then can they be fruitful in their fishing endeavor.
While it is important to preach the gospel in our churches, it is not there that “unbelievers” are to be found. Fish simply do not come to the place where you are conducting your fishing exercise in order to be “caught.” One has to go to the fish. This means that witnesses for Jesus Christ need to travel and visit with unbelievers. They will need to go to people’s homes, to the mall, and to wherever people gather.
If you can’t find an appropriate pond where there are fish, you can create new “fishing ponds.” “Fishing ponds” are merely activities or programs where we can attract unbelievers and relate to them in a non-threatening and relaxed manner. Examples of fishing ponds are: sports and recreation activities, social groupings, tuition and hobby classes, and other special interest groupings. Trained believers can then befriend these unbelievers and share their faith with them.
Next, when fishing for people, we need to set aside time and be very patient while waiting for the fish to bite. Patience is the key. We cannot force the fish to bite. We just have to wait. Similarly, after sharing our faith, the witness needs to wait for the unbeliever to receive the word, to process it and to be convicted by the Holy Spirit. All this takes time.
Fishermen will also need to use the correct bait or lure. Different kinds of fish will be attracted to different bait. Different people will respond to different types of initiatives. Experienced fishermen do not use a single type of bait when catching different kinds of fish. The fishermen not only uses different types of bait, he will also use different kinds of equipment. He might use a boat when fishing in the open seas or just a foldable chair when he is on shore. EE has developed different tools to reach people of different age-groups, language groups, different learning styles, etc., and using the most appropriate tools will bring the greatest results.
Fish move with the tide and an understanding of the tide movements will produce a better catch. Similarly there are times in a person’s life when he is more open to receiving the Lord. Experienced evangelists are aware of these “seasons” in a person’s life just as fishermen are aware of the tides and will be careful to act in season.
Finally, just as someone can be trained to fish, a believer can also be trained to be a good witness for Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I will make…” and certainly, evangelists can and are made. Evangelism is not a gift that only some special believers possess. If you have not done so, go and sign up for the next EE training course. Jesus will yet make a “fisher of men” out of you!