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Go Fish

by Kaci Piccillo on May 04, 2018

Fishers of Men

Alright, Kaci.  Right over here I have some goldfish.  They are kind of on their last life anyway, so what I’m going to need you to do is put on these goggles…

I had just been ushered onstage in front of one thousand high schools students, blinded by blackout goggles.  Then, I was given my mission: walk across a tarp covered in LIVE GOLDFISH—without stepping on them.

The audience erupted in gasps and laughter as I stumbled my way across the stage, squirming and screaming like a schoolgirl while doing my best not to step where I felt slime, and praying to God I wasn’t squishing Nemo and friends to death underfoot.

Once I finally made it across the stage, I was instructed to remove my goggles.  Nervously, I looked down to survey the damage but smiled in relief as I realized I had been duped.  Down at my feet lay not a carnage of sea creatures but, tangerines.  Go fish.

Hume Lake is notorious for games like this one that are great fun, yes, but ultimately have a higher aim—to break down walls and create shared experiences with students, so that a path can be paved to building relationships and engaging in Gospel conversations.

All throughout junior high and high school I attended Hume as a camper and for the past four years, I’ve gone as a counselor with our high school ministry, Omega.  This particular weekend of winter camp was all the more special because it was my last camp experience with my now senior girls.

Other than the funny fish game, one of the things that stood out to me most about the weekend was the Missions Chapel that took place Saturday morning, where we talked about the urgent responsibility we have as Christians to share the Gospel with those around us. 

In it, the speaker used a powerful illustration.  He had two students come up on stage, put 45 seconds on the clock, and instructed the students to tap as many people on the shoulder as possible before the time ran out.  If your shoulder was tapped, you had to stand up.

The two students ran as fast as they could, frantically tapping shoulders. But then the buzzer rang.  And all they had to show for it was a vague line of students standing along the outer ring of the audience.  The vast majority remained seated.

Next, he brought the students back up on stage and told them to do it again.  Only this time, instead of tapping as many shoulders as possible, their job was to tap only two shoulders.  If your shoulder was tapped, your job was to in turn tap two more shoulders before standing.

I don’t even think the whole 45 seconds had been used up yet when the entirety of Ponderosa Chapel was on its feet.

The message was clear: if we view evangelism as the responsibility of one or two prominent people, many will remain unreached.  BUT, if we take Jesus at His word in Matthew 28 when He tells us to “Go and make disciples of all nations,” and view evangelism instead as the responsibility of all Christians—each of us taking personal ownership in His command—the ripple effect will be astounding.

In our recent sermon series, we’ve been talking about what it looks like to Love Thy Neighbor.  Loving our neighbors requires us to see them, to serve them, and to pray for them—but we miss something if we stop there.  Which brings us to our fourth and final week: sharing Jesus with our neighbors.

The world is filled with people who need the Gospel and while we can recognize that need, it’s easy to think someone else will address it—maybe pastors, missionaries.  But the reality is, no matter what our job titles are, for every follower of Jesus, our truest job description is to share Him with as many people as possible so long as there’s breath in our lungs.

I love the way this is illustrated through the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4.  She goes to a well to draw water but ends up encountering the Living Water—Jesus.  Her entire life, she sought after things that would never satisfy, but here she found One who knew her fully, loved her wholly, and offered her the Only Thing that would ever satisfy—Himself.  This woman was so joyful at her discovery, she literally left her water jar at the well and ran back to town to tell everyone about the One she found.  As a result of her testimony, many came to believe in Jesus (John 4:39).

When it comes to sharing Jesus with others, we tend to tell ourselves we just need to be loving, that people will see something different about us through our joy and the hope we have—and those things are absolutely true!  But they’re only part of our responsibility.  The reality is, relying on those things alone would sort of be like me knowing the “goldfish” on the tarp up at Hume were going to die, and simply doing my best to avoid stepping on them, when I had the ability to scoop them up and bring them to the Living Water that they might LIVE!

Jesus calls us to be “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19), and if others are going to come to Him through us, they need to see Him in us through our good works, but they also need to hear about Him through our clear words.

I know personally, I tend to feel awkward and afraid starting a conversation about Jesus with someone who doesn’t know Him.  But I’ve found asking myself the following questions puts things in perspective: Do I truly believe what I say I believe?  Do I believe Jesus brings life, and more consequentially, that those without Him face eternal separation from God?  Am I willing to let my love for people be bigger than my fear or the awkwardness of not knowing what to say?  Do I trust that the results don’t rest on me, but my responsibility is simply to be obedient to the command God has given me?

As we seek to love our neighbors, can you identify one person you can share Jesus with this week—maybe with a story of how God has worked in your own life, or by inviting them to church?

Imagine what could happen if every person reading this blog post decided to take one brave step this week.  In the same way Ponderosa Chapel at Hume Lake rapidly rose to its feet, and in the same way the entire village of Samaria came to know Jesus after the woman at the well encountered Him, I believe we could see a powerful ripple effect in our community.