Let's Go Soul Winning in Public Places
by Pastor Jack Hyles
(Chapter 4 from Dr. Hyle's excellent book, Let's Build An Evangelistic Church)
Previously we have discussed at length witnessing in the home, preparation, etc. However, much effective soul winning can be done witnessing in public places. In this chapter we will deal basically with what might be called, "On the spot witnessing, casual witnessing."
1. Places to Witness
Of course, a Christian should witness everywhere. To be the right kind of Christian I guess we should be willing to speak to anyone about the Saviour. Following is listed a few places where successful witnessing can be done.
Busses, planes, trains, etc. While riding on public transportation facilities is a good time to witness. I have won people to Christ on trains, busses, planes, cars, and other places such as these. Usually there is time for conversation. It is good perhaps to start the conversation about something besides Christianity or even religion. Perhaps ask the person about his life, his business, his home. Let him speak of his own interests for a while. Then gradually he will become interested in your interests and will ask you a few questions, whereupon you will have a good chance to present the Gospel to him. One reason to let him talk first is to enable you to find the best way to approach him.
Place of business. In places where the conversation and time are limited, a Gospel tract is in order. Places such as the grocery store, drug store, etc., would be included here especially when the building is crowded and there is not sufficient time to explain salvation. Other places where soul winning can be done would be while getting a shoe shine a haircut, etc. Many times I have won the shoeshine boy.
One time in Hearne, Texas, I won the shoeshine boy and I got so excited that I forgot to pay him. He got so excited he forgot to ask for the money. When I got home I realized that I had not paid him, returned to the place and he was delighted as I gave him a dollar and apologized.
While I was pastor of the Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, I went to get a shoeshine. Just about the time I had gotten courage enough to witness to the shine boy, he looked up at me and asked, "Sir, are you a Christian?" I was shocked that he had beat me to the question. ] answered, "Yes, I am; are you?" He replied, "Yes, I was saved about five minutes ago. One of those Miller Road Baptist Church members came in and won me to the Lord Jesus and told me to witness to everybody." A simple word, "Are you a Christian?" "Have you ever been saved?" "Do you know Jesus?" "Do you know if you died that you could go to Heaven?" could set a person to thinking about his soul.
Hotel lobbies. Many times in hotel lobbies people are loitering and eager to talk. During a conference in Houston, Texas, several years ago I returned to my motel room only to find the door open and hear a noise. The noise seemed to originate in the bathroom. I inquired as to who was there and the colored maid answered that she was cleaning out the bathtub. I started to leave the room and wait until she finished, then decided to return and witness to her. So while she was cleaning out the tub, I told her about Jesus. She knelt right in the bathtub and received the Saviour and we had a shouting, old-fashioned time in the Lord. One never knows where he will meet a seeking sinner.
Bus stations, airports, train terminals. Once again here people are idle. Perhaps a good way would be to buy a newspaper, sit down beside someone as if you were taking a trip yourself. Begin talking about the war situation, or the time of day, or the weather, or ask where they are going, and let the conversation lead into a topic about the Lord Jesus Christ. In conferences around the country with Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. Tom Malone and others, we have seen scores of people saved in places such as these.
Other places to witness are washaterias, parks, or any other place where people are idle and have a few minutes to talk.
While a pastor in Texas we had a group of men who witnessed on the streets. Also, they went to the fairgrounds during the fair. They would put tracts in the cars in the parking lot during football games. Some wonderful experiences have come from this type of witnessing. Many of them would even go to taverns, and night clubs, stand on the outside and pass out tracts to people as they entered and left. One time our young people got burdened about souls, so spent most of the week on the city square witnessing to everyone who walked by. One young man won thirty-five souls in one week. One of our men won 169 souls in six months on the streets. Another won four or five every week to Jesus just witnessing on the streets.
Shopping centers. We have used what we call "Tract teams" to go to shopping centers to pass out tracts on a certain week night. In a new shopping center in Dallas, Texas, one of our men was passing out tracts. The shoppers seemed to think he was giving away chances on something. He did not tell them differently. A line formed. One man screamed from the rear, "What is this chance on?" Whereupon the soul winner replied, "This is not a chance; this is a sure thing." Another cried, "What are you giving away!" The answer was, "A free home." The line grew until it was about a block long. The man gave out all of his tracts and walked away as the people found out how they could get a free home in Heaven eternally.
Anytime you do a good deed is a good time to witness. Be on the lookout for people who have cars that need pushing, people whom you can help across the street, etc. After you do a good deed for a person, he will sometimes feel obligated to listen to what you have to say. This will give you an open door to witness.
2. How to Witness Publicly
The method that we're going to mention can be used on those in the homes who will not hear the complete plan; those who are busy but nice; those whom you meet in passing. Also, it may be used on those to whom you witness in public.
Simply ask, "Are you a Christian?"
If they are not a Christian, ask them if they would like to be.
If they show any sign at all of wanting to be saved, ask them the following questions:
Do you know that you are a sinner according to Romans 5:10 which says, "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one," and Romans 3:25 which says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God"?
Do you realize that all people who die in their sins must pay the penalty for sin, which is eternal separation from God as mentioned in Romans 5:12, "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin: and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned," and in Romans 6:25 where it says, "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord"? Do you understand that?
Do you realize that Jesus has paid the penalty for your sins and suffered the price for your sins on the cross according to Romans 5:8, which says, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us"?
If their answers have been in the affirmative thus far, you may ask, "Do you believe if you bow your head now, simply asking God to forgive and save you, putting your faith and trust in Jesus to take you to Heaven, that He would save you?"
If they answer "Yes" to this question, ask them if you may pray. Pray very briefly since you are in public. A prayer like this will be sufficient: "Dear Lord, help this person to be saved today and to know that if he died, he would go to Heaven." Once again do not say "Amen" or let them know that you are ending the prayer. Stop the prayer abruptly.
Ask them to repeat a prayer after you. Once again you may use the sinner's prayer, "God be merciful to me a sinner and save my soul ... I do now receive Jesus as my Saviour and trust Him to take me to Heaven when I die."
Ask them if they will receive Christ and mean it, to take you by the hand. Remember that you are in a hurry, that you are in a public place, and it may be embarrassing.
Get a quick promise from them to go to some church and make a public profession. Explain to them briefly what a public profession is. Some people will not understand. If you know of a church in the area, contact the pastor and let him visit the home. If you live in the area, you go to see them at their home at a later date. Do the best you can to get them to attend church the next Sunday.
If you are not successful in leading them to Christ, use some good Gospel tract. Leave it with them and ask them if they would read it when you are gone. Most people will do this.
You might even give them a New Testament. Mark a few Scriptures and ask them to read the Scriptures after you are gone.
Always Keep your tracts clean and neat. Try to keep the corners from turning yellow or brown. Re sure they're kept in a good place so that they will be as attractive as possible when given out. Tracts have a tremendous ministry when used properly. We have received tracts from all over America.
One young lady was leaving home. She had separated from her husband and was leaving home on a train. One of our college students was returning to college after the holidays at home and was passing out tracts on the train. The young lady received a tract, was saved, returned home and was reconciled to her husband.
A young man on a ship in Japan received one of our tracts from his mother. He was saved, won fifteen of his buddies to Jesus, started a prayer meeting, Sunday School and preaching service on the ship, all because of one tract.
One of our ladies was passing out tracts at a bus station. A man on his way to prison was handed one. He was saved on his way to prison, wrote us a letter about it. Within two years he came to our church, was baptized and publicly thanked the lady who gave him the tract at the bus station two years before.
Just a few days before writing this chapter we received two tracts from people who had been saved simply through the tract ministry.
When witnessing in public, do not be intimidated. The natural tendency is for us to be embarrassed a bit. Quickly control the conversation; speak to each one around about Jesus; and make the atmosphere controlled by your conversation rather than your being intimidated by theirs. In other words, make them feel like a fool instead of you.
You cannot press long for a decision in public. If the decision cannot be made, simply give a tract.
Casually get their name and address and write it down. You may either contact the pastor who lives near them, or some soul winner in their area. If this is not possible, you may send them some good literature or some good Gospel paper that will lead them to Christ later. Remember always to be courteous. There is never a time for a soul winner to be ugly, unkind, or discourteous. You are God's representative; be the best one that you can he.
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