Monday, April 14, 2008

"One is more than many"
(by a fellow missionary near Tokyo)

As we were waiting for the students, a statement from the book, “Taking Men Alive” by Charles Trumbull came to mind:one is more than many.” In fact, presented as a Biblical paradox, it is probably the main point of the book. The book is a classic on personal evangelism. So when we returned home, I pulled it back off the shelf and skimmed through it again. It is one of the few books outside of the Bible that I have read through more than once. In my case, that is significant, since by nature I am an activist and not a reader!

Let me share a few more key points from this book:

Christ proclaimed his message by preaching, as his ministers must do today; but Christ won men and women to the acceptance of his message and of himself as Messiah and Savior by his loving, deeply personal, individual evangelism—conversational evangelism is has been well called. P. 37

Reaching one person at a time is the best way of reaching all the world in time. P. 41

But we can never have this needed knowledge of the man, as a first step toward winning the man himself, unless we devote our whole energy, for the time being, to knowing the man…. The art of taking men alive calls for tact (tact is simply touch) at the very beginning, which means, first of all, studying your man. P. 74

He then gives several principles:

1. Their present interest:

He must touch them at the point of their present interests, unworthy though these interests might seem in comparison with higher spiritual matters. He must use a bait that would attract these men just as they were, without waiting until they should come, of their own accord, to worthier interests. P. 77

2. Honest Commendation

It will land the most slippery human fish alive. No man can resist it. A word, heartily spoken, of sincere commendation for a fellow-being, will disarm opposition and draw him to us more effectively than any other method. P. 79

To be a good listener is one of the surest ways of winning and holding men. The “I can help you” attitude is fatal in this work; the “you are helping, or interesting, me” spirit is one of the secrets of success. P. 85

3. Use their “open nerve”

4. Follow-up – pursuer to decision and beyond

5. Explain in terms of Current Reality

All of his principles are illustrated with stories of people he interacted with over the course of his life. Several of the people initially showed no interest and would not be considered good candidates to hear and respond to the gospel. But over the course of time, through the interaction, their hearts changed. The stories bring life to the principles and make it an interesting, easy to read book.

In the back of the book, I wrote:

Keys to his life:

Ø Used every opportunity God gave him

Ø Was genuinely interested in the other person

Ø Followed through on each person

Two more quotes:

To win his confidence to me was a duty, if I would hope to lead him toward Christ. P. 96

But this leading of men to the Bible is to be accomplished, as a rule, by wisely recognizing that those whom we would win to Christ are probably not interested in the Bible to begin with: that their attitude is more likely to be indifferent or even antagonistic to it at the start. This being so, we shall do better to make our approach in the language of their everyday life and in the terms of their present interests, leading them later, with loving skill, to the Book without which any life is sadly incomplete. P. 121

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