When we engage with people, we should be patient. . . . Let them talk, rather than immediately telling them what we think they should know.
Published on: 09-02-2018
The Bible tells an insightful story in John 4. Although Jews normally avoided any interaction with Samaritans, Jesus did something different. He stopped by Jacob’s well in Samaria because He had a Total Member Involvement (TMI) mission there.
He began by asking a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. In our interaction with others, it is often good to ask a favor. Inspiration assures us that “trust awakens trust.”1
Jesus was looking for the spiritual key to the heart of this Samaritan woman. His four-step soul-winning principles are still keys for successful TMI work today:
Awaken a desire for something better.
Awaken a conviction of personal need.
Call for a decision to acknowledge Him as the Messiah.
Encourage the person to make a decision.
The Holy Spirit can help us find the “key” to open doors for spiritual interaction.
The woman was amazed, and the conversation quickly deepened to spiritual matters. Offering living water, Jesus touched the woman’s heart. “Sir, give me this water,” she said (verse 15).
At this point things became very personal. Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband, and come here” (verse 16). Replying that she had no husband, Jesus affirmed she was correct; though she’d had five husbands, the one she was currently living with was not her husband.
Trembling, the woman tried to divert the subject to philosophical matters. Jesus let her talk, giving us an example. When we engage with people, we should be patient with them. Let them talk, rather than immediately telling them what we think they should know.
Jesus then lifted her thoughts above form and ceremony, saying, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (verse 23).
This is the same message Christ gave to Nicodemus in John 3.
The woman was impressed by Christ’s words. Filled with conviction, she confessed, “I know that Messiah is coming” (John 4:25).
Jesus straightforwardly replied, “I who speak to you am He” (verse 26).
Faith sprung up in the woman’s heart. Excited, she left her water pot and hurried into the city. When the disciples returned and urged Jesus to eat, he replied, “I have food to eat of which you do not know” (verse 32). This is a beautiful example of how the Holy Spirit will work through us as we point people to Jesus through TMI.
The Samaritan woman was thrilled. Her heart overflowed with gladness that shone on her face. She became a new creation in Christ Jesus (see 2 Cor. 5:17). She became a missionary, participating in TMI as she told the entire city: “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” (John 4:29).
The missionary zeal of the Samaritan woman was so effective that the city came out to hear Jesus and urge Him to stay. He changed His travel plans and spent two days there, resulting in many believers in that Samaritan city.
God is Calling
God calls us to TMI wherever we are. He uses everyone who is willing to be used—emptying ourselves of self and committing to growing in Christ through Bible study, study of the Spirit of Prophecy, and prayer. If we are committed to Christ, and willing to learn through the Holy Spirit’s power how to reach others, God will use us.
TMI encompasses everything from literature distribution, health outreach, Bible studies, community service, media evangelism, door-to-door witnessing, youth involvement, prophecy seminars, public evangelism, and much more—always connecting the meetings and focusing people toward public evangelism and personal soul-winning opportunities.
TMI In Japan
In May, during the All Japan 2018 Maranatha TMI evangelistic meetings, Nancy and I were privileged to be with the Amanuma Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tokyo. We came to love those dear people. What a privilege to share the Bible with each other and the world.
During our meetings a woman began coming back to church. She had grown up as an Adventist but married a Catholic man and became a Catholic herself. But after a nasty divorce she felt impressed to return to the Adventist Church through the witness of her daughter, who had remained a faithful Seventh-day Adventist.
The woman attended the meetings with two friends, Norio and Yuko Masuda. Yuko was a Seventh-day Adventist, but her husband, Norio, was not. At the beginning of the series Norio was polite but not visibly convicted. But when we talked about the Sabbath truth and the attempted deception to turn the day of worship from Sabbath to Sunday, he was impressed and continued coming to the meetings. I could see in his face that he was being convicted by the Holy Spirit.
One night Norio told us, “I want to be baptized as soon as possible!”
We could see his faith in Jesus growing every day. By God’s grace Norio was baptized at the Amanuma church. The next evening we received a beautiful thank-you card from Norio and Yuko: “We really appreciate all of your warm support to be baptized and let us know the truth. Through your presentation I [learned] the truth of God’s love, the importance of the seventh day, following the Bible, and the Advent. I’m so grateful to know about that and to be a member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. From now on I will have my life with God, Jesus, the Bible, Seventh-day Adventists, and my wife, who brought me to the Amanuma church.”
We praise God for what He has done in Norio’s life, and is doing in the lives of others. Their former Catholic friend indicated that she wanted to continue with Bible studies and be rebaptized. What a privilege to see what God’s last-day message will do in the hearts of people through the power of the Holy Spirit as we approach Christ’s soon return!
TMI Starts with Us
Total Member Involvement really starts with church members being actively involved. How exciting it is to realize that we, through the Holy Spirit’s power, can make an eternal difference in the life of someone, or a group, a village, a city, or a nation.
Ellen White observed: “Every true disciple is born into the kingdom of God as a missionary. He who drinks of the living water becomes a fountain of life. The receiver becomes a giver. The grace of Christ in the soul is like a spring in the desert, welling up to refresh all, and making those who are ready to perish eager to drink of the water of life.”2
Take the good news and share it as did the Samaritan woman and so many others. As we participate in TMI through the Holy Spirit’s power, God’s work will be finished everywhere—in our neighborhoods and around the world.
Maranatha! Jesus is coming soon!
1 Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages (Mountain View, Calif.: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 1898, 1940), p. 184.
2Ibid., p. 195.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the worldwide Seventh-day Adventist Church. Additional articles and commentaries are available from the president’s office on Twitter: @pastortedwilson and on Facebook: @PastorTedWilson.