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Give Me a “J” Chapter 1

Give Me a “J”!

It’s All about Jesus

Dedication

I dedicate this book to my adorable and wonderful wife, Denise Irja Blessitt. She has traveled the world with me in more than 294 countries as we shared Jesus together on every continent. She is a godly woman whose heart overflows with the love of Jesus. This love is evident as she shares Jesus with others, and it makes her the most effective witness I’ve ever met.

Preface

“Give me a ‘J’!”
“J!”
“Give me an ‘E’!”
“E!”
“Give me an ‘S’!”
“S!”
“Give me a ‘U’!”
“U!”
“Give me another ‘S’!”
“S!”
“What’s that spell?”
“Jesus!”

One thing I’m known for is leading the Jesus cheer. It not only gets a crowd excited, but it also gets us focused on what’s most important: Jesus.

Give Me a “J”! is a book about how to share Jesus with the people we meet every day. Its central point is very simple: in sharing with others for their salvation, all we really need to do is tell them about Jesus. There’s no evangelistic process to memorize, no need to be an expert in theology, no pressure of any kind. This is something every single follower of Jesus can do—and can love doing.

I am filled with excitement in presenting this book to you, because I know firsthand the thrill of seeing people born into the kingdom of God. Welcome to the privilege of doing something you can be sure is the will of God—helping people come to know Jesus as their Savior!

This is something every single follower of Jesus can do—and can love doing.

Living on a farm in the American South, I received Jesus as my Savior at the age of seven. The very next day, I began sharing about what had happened to me and how my friends could know Jesus. In the years since, this lifestyle of being a witness of Jesus has taken me around the world.

For a number of years, I was known as the “minister of Sunset Strip,” leading a Jesus coffeehouse in West Hollywood, California. I spoke on stage at nightclubs and rock festivals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. I was part of the Jesus movement that swept the United States and the world. During that time, I learned to communicate the message of Jesus in areas where people had rejected church.

After being called by Jesus to carry a twelve-foot cross on foot across America, I learned to speak person to person with critics, doubters, and the eager. Then Jesus called me to carry the cross in every nation on earth. I have since carried the cross on foot in 305 nations, island groups, and territories. By the grace of God, I have walked more than thirty-seven thousand miles—listed in the Guinness World Records as the world’s longest walk.

In this journey with the cross, I have spoken about Jesus with people in every nation, and He has led me to share Him in ways that touch the heart. With an approach of love and kindness, and using terms that do not provoke anger but rather arouse interest, I have shared with people of every religion and have led many to know Jesus as Savior and Lord.

My life of sharing Jesus includes being the guest speaker at Harrods, the world’s most famous store in London, England, where I spoke every hour for an entire day. In addition, I spoke to the staff at the Bank of England, to detectives at Scotland Yard, and at private receptions with royalty. I have spoken to prayer groups in the U.S. Senate and House and also at the Pentagon. I have spoken to tens of thousands in the Rose Bowl, the Orange Bowl, JFK Stadium, Wembley Arena, Trafalgar Square, and Hyde Park.

From Westminster Chapel in London to the Crystal Cathedral in California, I have seen the world open up to the message of Jesus. From meeting with Yasser Arafat in war-torn Beirut to Prime Minister Begin’s house in Israel to the presidential palace in Egypt, the cross and I have been welcome. From the roadsides of India, with tens of thousands lining the highways to welcome the cross, to the jungles of the Amazon, I have seen the hunger of the world for the glorious news of Jesus Christ.

There’s nothing special about me. In many ways, I’m no different from the boy who grew up amid the cotton fields.

It’s the message about Jesus that’s so powerful, that gets so much attention, and that changes lives forever.

Certainly I realize that God may not call you to share about Him as widely in the world as I have. But I know that in your daily course of life you come up against many who need to know Jesus. Your family, your friends, and others in your community can come to know Jesus as Savior and Lord as you simply tell them the truth about Jesus.

Follower of Jesus be released by the Holy Spirit and start today to lift up Jesus in word and deed in every way possible that honors Him. He once said, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:37-38). And that is my prayer for this book—that it will empower laborers to go into a world ripe for harvest.

Glory! I can see a flood of people coming to know Jesus, and even now I can hear heaven rejoicing.

Part 1
It’s All about Jesus

Chapter 1
Sharing Jesus in the Twenty-First Century

We do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus
the Lord.
—2 Corinthians 4:5

My walk around the world started with a walk across America, beginning on Christmas Day of 1969. I was living in Hollywood, California at the time and God called me to take the wooden cross off the wall of our His Place building, where it had been hanging and where I had been preaching, and carry it to Washington, D.C. by way of New York. The walk itself was glorious. And then, after carrying the cross across America in 1970, the next year I felt led to return to New York and lead a mighty outreach in Times Square.

But what happened? At first I stood there in Times Square preaching as loudly and as forcefully as I could, while thousands of people walked by, but nearly everyone ignored me. The thoughts running through their minds seemed to be, Oh, another street preacher yelling at me. I’ve heard it all before. And they would hurry on.

I knew something was wrong. Here were people who needed Christ, but plainly I was not communicating with them in an effective way. So one evening I said to the ten people who were with me, “Let’s just sit down right here and pray.” So we sat down under a little tree, joined hands, and started to pray out loud.

Here were people who needed Christ, but plainly I was not communicating with them in an effective way.

And guess what happened next? Although my eyes were closed for prayer, I thought I could hear a crowd begin to gather around this circle of people who were praying on the ground. I confess that I peeked for a moment, and there were people all around us—hundreds of people! They were trying to see what was happening and overhear what we were praying about.

Finally I ended the prayer and started to share about Jesus. People listened. Then I grew overconfident and stood up and started to preach. What happened next? The crowd left—I had turned back into a street preacher, in their minds. But then I sat back down and started talking to the ten fellow believers, and a crowd gathered again.

​So for the next three months, that’s what we did. We sat under the little trees in Duffy Square and Times Square and we shared Jesus. We ran a microphone cord in the tree branches so that people in the crowd could hear better what we were saying. But we didn’t preach; we simply talked with each other and with the people around us about Jesus. During those three months, many thousands chose to follow Jesus.

I learned a valuable lesson in New York back in 1971: don’t preach at people; share with them. That makes all the difference.

“Sharing With”
Sadly, many followers of Jesus still take the “preaching at” approach. They point a finger and say, “You’re a sinner. You need to repent or you’re going to hell.” Usually, all this does is to make the preacher appear self-righteous and cause other people to become defensive.

It turns them off from even considering Jesus. And so I pray that we will put the “preaching at” approach behind us once and for all. I pray that, in the twenty-first century, the followers of Jesus will learn to share Him with others in a comfortable, positive, and effective way. When people see Jesus, the Spirit convicts them and they are drawn into the Kingdom by God’s love.

Is this biblical? Oh yes! Jesus Himself sent out His followers two by two into the towns and villages of Israel, instructing them, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give” (Luke 10:5, 7). That’s a beautiful picture of getting up next to unbelievers, spending time with them, and sharing Jesus with them in an unconfrontational manner.

Were we trying to get people to buy into a religious system, they might become offended. If we were trying to persuade people of the superiority of our moral beliefs, they might become hostile toward us. But what I am talking about in Give Me a “J”! is simply talking about Jesus and leaving the other stuff alone.

All around the world, I have found that I can talk to almost anybody about Jesus—His life and teaching and mission in the world. When Jesus is shared with love, with joy, and with excitement, people are open to talking about Him and receiving Him into their hearts. It can happen with you, too.

​Fear Not
Not long ago, I was speaking with a wealthy woman who lived in Florida. She told me that she was afraid to respond to Jesus’ call to share Him because she thought it would mean going to some grimy city street and hanging out with the homeless and other people who were nothing like her.

I told her not to worry. She did not need to share Jesus on urban streets unless she sensed God calling her to that kind of ministry. She could share Jesus with people she met at the country club, at the garden club, and anywhere else her normal round of activities took her. With those people, she could be very effective for Christ.

Like this woman, many people have fears about sharing Jesus. And to these people, I say, relax! Sharing Jesus is merely talking about someone you love—Jesus—with whomever you happen to meet. Our attitude should be that of sharing our best friend with other friends. This is how we normally talk as we share treasured experiences in our lives.

Imagine that you have been on a terrific vacation and afterward you have returned to your job. You would want to tell your coworkers all about your vacation, wouldn’t you? Sure! Because you had a great time and want to share that experience with them.

That’s what it’s like in sharing Jesus. We love the Lord, and so we tell others about Him and invite them to know Him too. That’s it.

This approach eliminates many of the worries that people have.

• You can be yourself. I have my own style of sharing Jesus that works for me, but you don’t need to copy
my style or anybody else’s. Share in whatever way fits with your personality and preferences. We all have
the same goal: to share Jesus effectively so that others will ask Him into their heart. But we don’t have to
do it in the same way.

• There’s no script to follow. I know that some evangelists will encourage others to follow a certain pattern
every time they present the gospel. That may work well for some people, and certainly when it does, I am
glad that it has helped someone to receive new life in Jesus. But my approach is different. There is nothing
written about it. All I do is encourage my fellow believers to share Jesus however seems most appropriate
for the person they are with, as they are led by the Spirit. In this way we cover the same fundamentals
but we tailor the approach to the individual with whom we are speaking.

• There’s no risk of failure. In sharing Jesus, all we are doing is issuing invitations to follow Him. The power
to change lives doesn’t lie with us but with the Holy Spirit. We encourage people to commit their lives to
Jesus, but it is never up to us to make that decision for them. So no matter what their response is, we
have not failed. The only failure lies in not being faithful to share Jesus in the first place.

Take heart. In the rest of Give Me a “J”! you will see how sharing Jesus can be comfortable and relaxed and can fit into your everyday life. We can share Jesus in ways that people understand, using the kind of language that people are speaking, and showing a love that others can feel. Then Jesus will draw them to Himself while we watch and cheer Him on!

Authorized, Commissioned, Empowered
But maybe you are not convinced yet that you should even be sharing about Jesus. That’s for other people, you might think.

The biblical evidence says otherwise. The glorious mission of every follower of Jesus—male or female, young or old—is to share about Him and lead people to believe in Him, repent of their sin, and follow Him. And because we have the scriptural command to share Jesus, we can be sure that God is with us as we speak on His behalf. This, too, casts out fear.

Jesus set the example of what He has asked us to do. Declaring His personal mission statement, Jesus said, “The Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). In other words, His purpose in coming to the earth was to earn our salvation through His death on the cross and to share with people the message of how that salvation could be applied to them personally through trusting in Him.

Jesus set the example of what
He has asked us to do.

And Jesus made good on His claim. Luke 8:1 says, “[Jesus] went through every city and village, preaching and bringing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God.” He spent most of His time traveling about so that a maximum number of people could meet Him and have an opportunity to follow Him.

Now, here’s the next step: Jesus asks us to do what He did. He said to His followers, “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you” (John 20:21). That is, He passes on to us the mission given to Him by the Father to go to people and share with them how to receive the new life He offers. Just like Him, we are to seek and save those who are lost.

The basis of this command to us is Jesus’ own authority as the Son of God. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth,” He asserted (Matthew 28:18). Therefore, we have His authorization to share the message of salvation in Jesus. This gives us boldness in sharing.

Many times, as I carry the cross in countries where public preaching and proselytizing are not allowed, a police officer, soldier, or other official will ask me, “Do you have permission to do this?”

I reply, “Yes.”

“From where?”

“At the top.”

Frequently, that ends it, as my interrogator assumes that a chief of police or president or someone like that said I could carry the cross in their country. But what I mean is that my authority comes from the very top— from Jesus Himself.

And then, in addition to Jesus’ authorization, we also have His commission. It is a universal one. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19, emphasis added). “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15, emphasis added). That doesn’t leave out anybody, does it?

We don’t just have Jesus’ permission to share about Him; we have His commission. We are commanded to do so. Now, I realize that only certain people, including myself, have the spiritual gift of evangelism (Ephesians 4:11). But that’s not what Jesus was talking about. He wants all His followers to be His witnesses on a regular basis. Just as not all believers are pastors but all of us are ministers, so not all of us are evangelists but all of us are witnesses.

Finally, in addition to Jesus’ authorization and commission, we also have His empowerment. He promised, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

We are not sent out alone to persuade people to follow Jesus by employing our own eloquence and reasoning ability. We’re not outwitting anybody. We’re not winning debates. No. Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), and He is with us through the Spirit. He will convict and convert sinners as we share with them the simple message about Him.

Jesus’ earliest followers did just as He had told them. “Daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (Acts 5:42). And in time their sharing of Jesus went much farther than just their hometown. After a period of intense persecution in Jerusalem, “those who were scattered went everywhere preaching the word” (Acts 8:4).

We go too. We go to those around us—to our family, to our friends, to our business colleagues, to service people and sales clerks, to people we meet on business trips, vacations, and mission journeys. Wherever we go, we tell people about the Jesus we love.

We have been authorized, commissioned, and empowered by Jesus to tell people the good news about salvation. It’s a privilege—and it’s not hard or intimidating when we look at it simply as sharing Jesus with our friends and acquaintances.

Not Lifestyle Alone
Now, I know there are many people who say evangelism is about a lifestyle, not about what we say. These folks will claim, “I live it; I don’t speak it.”

One man had been with the same company for fifteen years, and he had wanted his life to be a witness for Jesus on the job. Finally somebody came up to him at work and said, “There’s something special about you, something unusual about you.”

This made the man feel really good. He thought, Fifteen years I’ve been showing my light and waiting for this. Finally it’s here. Somebody has figured out I’m a follower of Jesus. He said, “What have you noticed about me?” The other person asked, “Are you a vegetarian?”

By all means, live a life that is consistent with what you profess to believe. And should your lifestyle catch the attention of others and give you an opportunity to share Jesus with them, that’s great. But please don’t rely upon your lifestyle alone to witness for Jesus; that’s not enough.

The apostle Paul, speaking of unbelievers wondered, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace, Who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Romans 10:14-15)

Somebody’s got to speak. Paul was right—assuming we don’t speak, how will anybody know who Jesus is and how they can be saved in Him?

As we have seen, Jesus passed His mission on to us. And how did He describe that mission? “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me,” He declared, “Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel” (Luke 4:18). The Greek word translated “preach” means “to herald forth” or “to proclaim.” So you and I are to follow Jesus’ example in sharing about Him in words.

A Revolution in the Making
Sharing Jesus is His idea. It is Jesus who told us to go. It is Jesus who is with us. When we lift up the name of Jesus, it is He who does the drawing of people to Him. It is Jesus who saves and comes into one’s life. It is Jesus we will spend eternity with. It’s all about Jesus. Did you know that, since you have Jesus as your Savior, you have already met the sole qualification required for those who will share Him with others?

Did you know that most people with whom you might speak about Jesus would be fascinated to learn about Him? Did you know that most people have never been prayed for personally, and as you offer to pray for them, it can melt their hearts?

Everywhere I have gone, I have found people open to hearing about Jesus. And so, after traveling throughout the entire world, I am optimistic, not pessimistic, about people coming to Jesus. In fact, I am more excited today than I have ever been about sharing Jesus with the people of the world. As Jesus said, the harvest is ripe; the only question is whether enough laborers will head out into the field to reap it (Matthew 9:37-38).

I believe that in our day a revolution is at hand as Jesus followers are released, in the name and power of Jesus, to go everywhere and talk with everybody about Him. It’s simple but so important. And oh, the joy that is waiting for us as we take part in God’s great work in the world!

​There is one thing you can do on earth that you can know will bring rejoicing in heaven, and that is leading someone who is lost to find new life in Jesus. This brings rejoicing and celebration in heaven (Luke 15).

Fear not. Jesus is with you. And the cross has gone before you. I know, because I have carried it into every nation where you might go.

The call is clear.

The Spirit is with us. Let’s go, go, go!

___
Questions to Consider
• How has this chapter opened your eyes to misconceptions
you may have had about sharing Jesus?

• What is holding you back from sharing Jesus
more consistently and more boldly?

• What ideas are already forming in your mind
about how you can share Jesus better?