This is the first in a series dealing with the subject of witnessing.
For some, “going fishing” means the yearly gospel series in the local assembly. We bring in the hired “fly” fishermen preachers. They spectacularly cast around in the stagnant pond for 3 or 4 weeks and we all congratulate them on their marvelous casting techniques ( great preaching), but sometimes not a whole lot happens at “fish count” time. The magazines then announce the great series and we sing the first line only of #446, “Take my life and let it be.” Life goes back to normal. We have all done our duty, trudging into meeting and sweating it out night after night, or have we? Thankfully, there are brethren and sisters that know better.
How do they fish?
Fish With “Waders”
You must wade into people’s lives wherever and whenever you can. Yes, it is going to get ugly, and the likelihood of getting wet and cold is so much greater. But we must go to where the fish are. Going door to door on Sunday afternoon may yield some results in a series, but God has placed us in direct contact with a huge group of people. This means that when trouble hits in people’s lives we need to be there to support them. Paul tells us that he was among them as a cherishing nurse (1 Thes 2:7).
Fish With Consistency
This means fishing everyday and in all kinds of weather. Hot and cold, rain and snow, in wind that blows, they are out there casting away. God will always bless a true witness. He will do it in His own time and in His own way. We need to stay focused on the task at hand. “Be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord . . .” (1 Cor 15:58).
Fish With Sturdy Test Lines
The bottom line is, “If you have never been abused, you have never been used.” Don’t work with a 2lb test line. Some brethren “snap” at the slightest tug of opposition on the line. If we approached the whole issue of salvation in the same manner we approach our businesses or careers, I sense we would see a lot more blessing. Many of us will not take a “No” answer when it comes to secular issues. We know that this kind of response comes from someone who is poorly informed. It is the same with the gospel. Don’t expect people with whom you work to express much interest when you raise the subject of salvation and eternity. Why would they? Most have been bombarded with so many false messages that they are weary of religious talk, even though they sense their guilt and need.
Fish With Quietness
Saddam Hussein was known for fishing in the Tigris River using a grenade while standing in the river! KABOOM! You can get the fish alright. The trouble is they are very badly mangled and quite dead. Personal righteousness and genuine kindness will go a long way with people. “Whom can you trust?” is the underlying message in many of the world’s songs. Don’t be surprised if people take time before trusting you; to achieve this, you will need to demonstrate that you are worthy of that trust. People want to see real Christianity before they ever hear about it (1 Pet 3:1). We all may have a problem with wanting to pull the pin quickly and get on with the fishing. Instead, take a deep breath and slow down. Asking God to use and take us where He wants us to be, through personal prayer, is essential. When God uses us in His great work we need to be able to say, “I being in the way, the Lord led me” (Gen 24:27).
Fish in Their Part of the River
Yes, it is way more exciting to fish at the falls where the fish are jumping clean ut of the water (Mexico, Russia, El Salvador), and we all could be saying, “I’ll fish when I get there.” It may be, at some point, you will fish there. Right now, however, God has put you in the part of the river in which He wants you to fish. You can only have an impact on the people who are with you in the stream. Don’t focus on fishing at old folks homes if you are 18. Focus on the person next to you in class. Speak to your classmate, workmate, and roommate. Then look to the Lord for the “checkmate.” Paul was concerned that he would not labor in another man’s work (2 Cor 10:15, 16).
Fish with Caution
Be careful when you are casting around that you don’t sink your hook into another fisherman’s neck with a wild cast! This can happen. You just put the poor brother out of action and you will not be fishing all the while you are digging the hook out of his flesh. Fishing for souls is one of Christian life’s greatest joys and we want to make sure we keep it that way. Don’t be critical or faultfinding with other brethren or sisters and their efforts in gospel work, spoiling the whole experience for everyone. “Study to be quiet and to do your own business” (1 Thes 4:11).
“Blessed are ye that sow beside all waters.” Isaiah 32:20