When you are burdened for the lost, you never know how the Lord may use you. The blind hymn writer Fanny Crosby was speaking to a crowd in Cincinnati many years ago. She felt an overwhelming burden that some young man in the audience needed to be saved. She felt the Spirit urging her to make a plea, “Speak what I tell you, it’s now or never!”
Fanny announced to the crowd, “If there is a dear boy here tonight who has wandered from God and his mother’s teaching, would he please come to see me at the end of the service?”
Afterward, a teenage boy approached her. “Did you mean me?” he asked. “Before she died, I promised my mother to meet her in heaven, but the way I have been living, I don’t think God will accept me.” Fanny presented the Gospel and had the joy of leading the young man to Christ. Returning to her room that night, all she could think about was the theme, “rescue the perishing.” That night she was inspired to pen the words to the classic hymn.
Many years later, while speaking in Lynn, Massachusetts, Fanny recounted the story behind her hymn “Rescue the Perishing.” After the service, a man approached her. “Miss Crosby,” he said, “I was that boy who told you more than thirty-five years ago that I had wandered from my mother’s God. I am grateful that you showed me Jesus. Since that night, I have found peace and have tried to live a consistent Christian life. If we never meet again on earth, we will meet up yonder and I will introduce you to Mama.” Choked up with emotion, the man turned away, unable to say another word.
If I could set this article to music I would, “Rescue the perishing/care for the dying/Jesus is merciful/Jesus will save.” When was the last time you shared your faith? We’re not responsible for who grabs on to the life saver and who doesn’t, but we are responsible for casting it out into the sea of lost humanity. Are you burdened for the lost? Are you concerned for the soul of someone you love?
If not, there are two ways to change that—prayer and proximity. Evangelism begins on your knees. Talk to Jesus about your friends before you talk to your friends about Jesus. When you spend quality time with Jesus, His burdens will become your burdens. Jesus declared His life's mission in Luke 19:10: “Indeed, the Son of Man has come to seek and to save people who are lost.” Jesus was all about people, and the closer you get to Him, the more His passion for souls will consume you and become the driving force in your life.
The second key ingredient to developing a passion for souls is proximity. Jesus was always around sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes and poor. Closeness with people releases compassion for people. Jesus had such a great impact on unbelievers because He was a friend of sinners (Luke 7:34). The closer you get to people, the greater your impact on them will be. As Rick Warren explains, “You build a bridge of love between your heart and theirs, then you let Jesus walk across.” -DM