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The Dirty E Word!

The Dirty E word!

It’s not Email, it’s not eBay. It is Evangelism. When this word is uttered – amongst people of no faith and even some believers – there is an almost visible reaction against it, as if it had some horrible or unacceptable connotation.

So why do people react so negatively to this word?

The Oxford Dictionary’s Language Matters definition of Evangelism is: ‘The spreading of the Christian gospel by public preaching or personal witness.’

The word ‘spreading’ could include: preaching, teaching, broadcasting, publishing or just verbally sharing it with another person.

The ‘Christian gospel’ is the Good News as recorded in the Bible.  It is called Good News because it announces the coming of God’s kingdom through the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus and the opportunity for people to get right with God and each other.

The positive effects of God’s presence can be enjoyed by humanity, both as individuals and as a community. It includes restored relationships, human flourishing, living each day with meaning, purpose and joy. Jesus said it this way, ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’

What are some examples of how this good news has impacted Australia, through changed individuals and communities?

In 1959 an Evangelist came to Australia and preached the Good News. There was some significant flow on effects from individuals choosing to live according to this good news: The alcohol consumption rate in 1960/61 dropped by 10%. The crime rate that had been increasing dramatically, remained fairly constant in 1960/61/62 and then resumed its dramatic upward trend in the middle and late 1960s. (Piggin, S. (2004). Spirit of the Nation. 169/170).

A mine manager in Tasmania in 1991 shared this Good News with the miners; many of them chose to live out this Good News for themselves. What were some of the flow on effects of this choice?  They included a dramatic drop in the accident rates and increased profitability.  The level of injuries declined and remained negligible for quite some time.  For the previous decade, compensation had cost the company around $50,000 to $250,000 each year. http://diduno.info/2014/11/safe-work-australia.).

In 1902/3 a group of preachers engaged in evangelism meetings in rural NSW. They chose to spread the Good News from the Bible. The results in the villages of the Illawarra were exceptional. At the Mt Keira mines, swearing disappeared and the pit ponies in the mines stopped work. Why did this happen? Because the ponies were unable to understand their instructions when swearing was eliminated.

Tradesmen reported that their bad debts were paid to them and the mines reported significant productivity gains. Those who chose to accept the Good News that they heard via evangelism demonstrated its positive effects in their life and relationships (Piggin, ibid, 64).

Wiluna in Western Australia was notorious for the drinking habits of its Aboriginal members in particular. A group of Christians shared the Good News over a period of a week in April 1982. After the first night the police asked them to move their meetings to the lawn outside the lock-up, as prisoners had heard the music and wanted to go to the meetings.  As a result of those meetings, many inside and outside the fence gladly accepted what they heard, kneeling with tears pouring down their faces. 

They were glad that these evangelists had come to their town. This was Good News for them and for their community. Over half the 400 folk in the community decided to embrace the Good News.  Results? Court appearances dropped by 90 percent, with police, hospital, TAB and hotel staff having little to do. With less crime, injuries, gambling and grog, there was more money available to be given to children and families. (Blacket, John, (2009) Fire in the Outback, 198/199)

When individuals understand the Good News that evangelists can bring, and when they apply it to themselves, they are changed. Renewed. Often radically and for the good of themselves, their families and their communities.

Why would this not be welcomed and acclaimed. How could it be maligned?  Surely, many people would desire to see such positive changes in their lives and in society? 

It could be that some people don’t want to change their lifestyle. They prefer their present lifestyle which to them is comfortable and are not willing to embrace the Good News and experience what God has in store for them.

Could this also be a reason why they are vocal in their maligning of ‘the dirty e word’?

Graham McDonald

Executive Officer

The DIDUNO Network