The Plight of John Currier; Thoughts on the Call to Verbally Share the Gospel
“But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you…” – Acts 26:16
There is a fascinating story George Sweeting shared in his book “The No-Guilt Guide for Witnessing.” Sweeting tells about a man named John Currier who in 1949 was found guilty of murder and was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison. Later, he was transferred and paroled to work on a farm near Nashville, Tennessee. In 1968, Currier’s sentence was terminated, and a letter bearing the good news was sent to him. But for reasons unknown, John never saw the letter, nor was he told anything about it. Life on that farm was hard and without promise for the future. Yet John kept doing what he was told even after the farmer for whom he worked had died. Ten years went by. Then eventually in 1978 a state parole officer learned about Currier’s plight, found him, and told him that his sentence had been terminated. Currier was a free man. Sweeting concluded that story by asking the following question; “Would it matter to you if someone sent you an important message, the most important in your life, and year after year the urgent message was never delivered? We who have heard the good news and experienced freedom through Christ are responsible to proclaim it to others still enslaved by sin. Are we doing all we can to make sure that people get the message?”
Currier’s plight is an amazing story. Yet in light of his story, let us consider the passage above. In Acts 26, the Apostle Paul made clear a defense for his faith in Christ before King Agrippa. In his speech, Paul articulated the details surrounding his conversion experience which had taken place on the Damascus Road. Specifically, he shared with King Agrippa that Jesus, the King of Kings, had commanded him to be a “witness.”
But what does it mean to be a witness? Well, to begin with, being a witness for Christ involves reflecting the gospel through our actions. This is referred to as “lifestyle witnessing.” We ought to live out our lives in such a way that we radiate the gospel through our actions. It is the desire for people to see Christ in our lives. But being a witness is so much more than just our actions. As we see in Paul’s speech to King Agrippa and in the story of John Currier, there is still the need for a “verbal” witness. This is why witnessing always involves verbally sharing with others what Christ has done in your life. As one Christian put it, it is “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” If you have trusted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, then you have a testimony to be shared. As a Christian, you have the good news of Jesus Christ; good and glorious news that provides freedom for imprisoned people. This is why we are called to share our faith to those whom God has placed in our path. It would be a travesty for you to only “Lifestyle witness” and never verbally share your faith. It has been said that if all you ever do is practice lifestyle witnessing without ever verbally sharing the gospel, then all you are doing is making this world a better place for people to leave before they die and go to hell.
The bottom line is this; it is not God’s will for His people to selfishly hoard the gospel by failing to be a verbal witness. Instead, it is His desire for the gospel message to be verbally shared with others. We would do well to remember that the Apostle Paul described his responsibility to witness as a calling from God. With all of these things in mind, take time out today and ask God to help you be a better verbal witness by His grace and for His glory!
– Pastor Eric