George Campbell Biography, Evangelist to Newfoundland - 19 - A NEW WITNESSING PERSPECTIVE

 CHAPTER 19

A NEW WITNESSING PERSPECTIVE

?Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trou­ble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboun­deth by Christ. And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consola­tion and salvation. And our hope of you is steadfast, knowing that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation. For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, in­somuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead: Who delivered us from so great a death, and doth deliver:

in whom we trust that He will yet deliver us.

II  Corinthians 1:3-10

THE MINISTRY OF COMFORT

Recently my wife gave me some cream of wheat with applesauce for breakfast. I really enjoyed that, so I said, ?Do you think I love you be­cause you take such good care of me or do I love you because of who you are??

She replied immediately, ?Because of who I am.?

?That?s right, that is just the way God wants us to love Him; not only because of what He does for us, but because of Who He is.?

He is a wonderful God, and He does so much for us that sometimes it is overwhelming. When we are overwhelmed, we go to the giver of all good gifts and say, ?My, what a wonderful, loving Father we have. That brought me to consider the ministry of comfort. I don?t know if I could have given this before I had cancer.

I just want to talk to you from my heart, and to tell you a little of what God is doing in my life. Maybe it will give you a little help, life and comfort. We need that as well as other expositional messages and teaching from the scriptures.

The ministry of comfort is very needed. Sometimes Christians try very hard to minister comfort and are not successful. Ministering comfort is like a finely-tuned instrument. It is a special gift. We should be looking to God more. He comforts when others fail. When the under-shepherds are not able to be there, we have the Holy Spirit. He is always our Com­forter.

A PRACTICAL EXAMPLE OF SUFFERING

An outgoing, pretty, teenaged girl came to see a mature Christian and said, ?I?m not getting anywhere in my Christian life. Nobody loves me. I?m not getting on at home and I can?t seem to make it with the kids.?

?Oh, come on now, you are kidding,? he answered.

?No,? she insisted, ?I mean

?Then I will give you a remedy,? he instructed. ?When you get on the bus to go to school tomorrow, communicate with someone. Try to be a help.?

When Jan rode the bus the next morning, a younger girl was pestering her, so she said, ?Come on, sit down and let?s talk.?

So she sat down, and the younger girl began to talk. She was from an unsaved home, her father was drinking and she had problems mak­ing friends. She talked, and talked and talked. When getting off the bus, she threw her arms around Jan and said, ?Oh, Jan, I just love you so much.?

Jan walked away a happy girl. She had just listened, and had said very little. That?s the ministry of comfort. All of us can do it, because we have the Holy Spirit. If we are going to minister comfort, or if we are to do anything for God, or if our assemblies are to be revived, we need the plow in our lives. We have to be willing for it.

SERVING HAS ITS COSTS

Last January, I was asked to take some meetings in the West Richmond Gospel Hall. I had been thinking of revival, so that was announced. I spent much time preparing and still have notes from which I have never preached. The deeper I went into the subject of revival, the more I was rebuked. I prayed full days and fasted (I believe in fasting at times). The more I prayed, fasted and thought about revival, the more I realized I needed the plow in my life. Was I willing to pay the price of revival? Maybe God is dealing with you about the mission field. Have you considered using that youth, that strength of yours in the mission field?

I had to face that. ?Lord, I?m not sure whether I want that plow in my life.? Finally, I said, ?All right, Lord.? So the Lord began to work with the plow.

I knew that in the family growth had to start with me as an individual. My wife and I have always had a good relationship. We have always loved each other, but there have been times when we haven?t grown together. That is an honest confession. We were too busy; too busy in the Lord?s work, too busy with this and too busy with that. We didn?t take time to grow. He may not plow in your life as He did in ours, but we are en­joying the Lord now in a way we never enjoyed Him before. Many preachers are not enjoying family life and the close husband and wife relationship that they should be enjoying because they are too busy!

A TIME OF RENEWAL AND WITNESS

One of the nicest things that has ever happened to me in my Christi­an life was a three-week holiday my wife and I took with Gaius and Lin­da Goff. I usually have been in tent work during the summer, after which came follow-up work in the fall, so opportunities for holidays did not often come for my wife and me.

In September 1984, I said to Mr. Goff, ?You pray about taking a holi­day, and I will pray also. Let?s see God in it.? All systems were go.

It was the most beautiful trip I ever had in my life, because we not only had a refreshing time of renewal in our own hearts, but we were able to witness for the Lord in a way that we haven?t done for many years. We really enjoyed it. We read the Bible together, prayed together and talked together. We went to state parks along the beaches of Oregon and to the Redwoods, just enjoying God?s nature and enjoying the Lord. We were not rushed, nor pressured with schedules. We took time to live a little. In busy schedules we need to take time and be with God. It?s a wonderful thing.

One of the first places we stopped at had a swimming pool and a hot pool. I looked forward to getting into the hot pool to rid myself of my aches and pains. I told the Lord, ?Lord, I haven?t been talking to people the way I should.? I was rebuked about this, and I thought, ?I am going to do what I can now.?

Before long, there were three or four other people in the hot pool, and I had a captured audience. People on a holiday are usually relaxed and friendly. Soon they were asking questions like, ?Where are you from??, or ?What do you do?? I told them that I had just been operated on for cancer and had been told that there is nothing that can be done for me. There?s no cure. Then I was able to say, ?I am not worried, because over thirty years ago I trusted Christ as my Saviour!? At that point, some stayed to listen to more, others left the pool.

During the trip we had two minor breakdowns with our motor home. One was on Saturday evening, right across the street from a gas station in a small town twenty-nine miles from Grant?s Pass, Oregon.

I said to a customer at the gas station, ?Do you know of a mechanic here??

The woman with him laughed and said, ?My husband is a mechanic.? We found out he was a good mechanic. The outcome of that was so lovely. We were able to spend time with that young man and his wife and tell them about Jesus.

The second time we had mechanical trouble we were two miles away from a little town where we found the very alternator we needed right there on the shelf of a small shop. We were able to communicate the gospel to the owner of the shop. The Lord met our need each time and each time provided an opportunity to witness.

RELATING TO OTHERS WHO SUFFER

While visiting my mother in California, I had a phone call from my brother, Lawrence. ?I just had a slight operation,? he said. ?Something like a hernia!? We talked a while, after which he talked to Mother.

?That is strange, he was in the hospital for a week,? Mother said, as she hung up the phone.

I called my cousin in Vancouver and asked if she knew the problem.

Then we discovered Lawrence had had a kidney removed because of cancer. The next day we drove down the interstate to Long Beach, where he lives. At 4:30 p.m., I knocked at his door. As soon as he opened it, I put my arms around him and said, ?Lawrence, I know how you feel. I know just how you feel. But they removed your kidney and gave you a clean bill of health. I still have the cancer. Death doesn?t make any real difference to me. I am ready to go!?

How wonderful is the ministry of comfort. It is thrilling! I wouldn?t trade anything that I have for what has brought me to the place where I could minister comfort, even to my own brother.

My brother said to a Christian doctor, Dr. J. P. Bell, ?The only kind of faith that I believe in is the kind you have and my brother has!?

Dr. Bell phoned another doctor, Dr. Robert G. Wells, who was saved a few years before and determined that he was going to witness to as many people as he delivered babies. He went to visit my brother, and brought him book that he had written, Prescription for Living.

In it he describes physical birth and relates it to the spiritual birth. I recommend the book. Dr. Wells spoke to my brother and prayed with him. He wrote these words on the fly leaf of the book, ?May you soon discover the joy and security of God?s delivery room. I will be praying for you during this difficult time. Sincerely, Robert G. Wells!?

PEOPLE ARE WHAT REALLY COUNT

One other incident really touched me when we were on this holiday. I talked to a man- that had been a chief petty officer in the Navy. He was discharged from the Navy because he was an alcoholic. His life was so messed up, he decided he would commit suicide. Going down the in­terstate highway, he turned into a small town where his uncle, who was a preacher, lived. He thought, ?I will just knock all this religious stuff out of my uncle. I?ll have one last argument with him before I put the gun to my head!?

He talked to his uncle until the early hours of the morning. He told his uncle he was a fool, that there was no God. He left there as morning began to break, and when he saw the beauty of the sky and the sun, he pulled off the road, put his head down on the steering wheel and wept like a baby. ?Oh God,? he cried, ?There is a God. Oh, Jesus, You died for my sins!? He never fired the bullet.

This brother told me, ?Every morning when I wake up, I pray, Lord, please come today; I would love to see Your face. Or Lord, if you want to take me home today in any way You want, that would just be wonder­ful. I would be glad to go, to be with You and see You. But Lord, if it is not Your will that You come today, and it is not Your will that You take me home, then just help me to do Your will. Just today!?

I myself have learned to live just one day at a time. It is not easy. Each morning, I try to remember that the Lord has given me only today.

I am learning something else. People are more important than things. A brother in Christ recently offered his services to help us find a suita­ble automobile. As we were looking, he said to me, ?I want to talk to you!?

He had a problem, and needed help. It is people that are made in God?s image, not automobiles. We are made for His glory, not cars, so these things are by far the most important. Whatever little counsel or help we pass one to another is for eternity. We should love people and use things, not love things and use people.

The words of this hymn brought tears to my eyes; they are very real to me:

?And is it so! We shall be like Thy Son. Is this the grace which He for us has won? Father of glory! (Thought beyond all thought.) In glory to His own blest likeness brought!?

?Not we alone, Thy loved ones all, complete in glory round Thee there with joy shall meet. All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord, object supreme of all, by all adored!?

Believers? Hymn Book

Related scriptures: James 1:17; H Corinthians 1:3; Isaiah 49:13; Philippians 2:1; IPeter2:21; Proverbs 11:13, 18:24, 27:10, 17:17; II Timothy 4:2, ICorinthians 15; Romans 5:6.