Connections: Randy Hurst
June 8, 2014
Empowered to Do God's Work
Randy Hurst serves as director of communications for Assemblies of God World Missions and as evangelism commissioner for the Fellowship. Hurst has ministered as a pastor, college teacher, missionary, linguist and author, and has communicated the gospel throughout the United States and in more than 50 countries of the world. The son of missionary parents and a long-term missionary himself, Hurst’s focus of ministry is on the unreached and the responsibility of all believers to share the message of Jesus Christ. He visited recently with Pentecostal Evangel Editor Ken Horn.
evangel: Talk about the importance of evangelism. Is there less emphasis on evangelism today than there used to be?
RANDY HURST: I wouldn’t say there’s less; I think it’s a different emphasis. When I was growing up, evangelists held extended meetings and you would invite your nonbeliever friends. That still happens.
There are evangelists who are still very effectively traveling and ministering at local churches — just not as many as there used to be. Many pastors are passionate about reaching the lost of their community and doing everything they can to motivate and mobilize people in evangelism. I believe we still need outreach events. Many are very effectively done at Christmas, Easter and other special times..
But I also believe the day-to-day witness of believers to the lost around them is the primary means to evangelizing our culture. When Christians depend on the Holy Spirit to help them reach out, they can all be witnesses for Christ, just as He promised. That truth needs to be emphasized more in our churches.
The Spirit enables us beyond our natural personalities. People who are naturally shy, when they are filled with the Spirit, can confidently tell people about Jesus. Like Peter and John said, “We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20, NASB).
evangel: How do Pentecost and evangelism go together?
HURST: In Acts 1:8, Jesus said, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” To the introvert, the Spirit may give you courage to speak up; to the extrovert, He may need to give you wisdom to say less and say it more effectively.
Sometimes half of effective witnessing is listening to people and letting God open doors of opportunity. There are many people, tragically, who have experienced Spirit baptism and are not utilizing the gift for the primary purpose Jesus gave it — to be His witnesses.
evangel: Would you share an example of someone whose life was transformed by the Holy Spirit and who began to touch souls and lives?
HURST: Let me give you an example from a country I can’t name. A pastor I know personally spent four terms in prison there for preaching the gospel. Every time they let him out, he would preach again and they would put him back in prison. In each of those imprisonments, he led others to the Lord. In his fourth imprisonment, he led 42 cellmates and two prison guards to the Lord.
One of those 42 was a drug dealer. When he received the baptism in the Holy Spirit, he came to my friend and said, “Pastor, God has called me to be an evangelist.”
When that former drug dealer was released from prison, he wanted to attend the AG Bible school. One of the requirements to get into Bible school in that country at that time was that you had to lead five people to Christ. That man had one month to lead five people to Christ before the start of the next school year. (Remember, this guy has not been to Bible school, so he hasn’t had Evangelism 101, but he’s full of the Holy Spirit.)
This man moved to his hometown, a city with not one Christian church. Three weeks later, he called my pastor friend and asked him to come and baptize those he had led to Christ. When the pastor arrived, he baptized not 5, but 753 people!
All that former drug dealer did was passionately tell others what Jesus had done for him, sharing the essence of the gospel — and pray with people.
evangel: How is the Holy Spirit transforming lives in churches and bringing communities to the Lord overseas?
HURST: I will share just one instructive example. New Life Assembly, pastored by David Mohan in Chennai, India, has 40,000 attending on Sunday. Every month Pastor Mohan schedules a “Holy Spirit Sunday.” On that day, at the prayer time, he invites anyone who hasn’t received the baptism in the Holy Spirit to leave the sanctuary and go into the auditorium where there are people who have fasted and prayed. These prayer volunteers pray with those who come, and hundreds are filled with the Spirit every month. As Pastor Mohan says, “Without the empowering of the Holy Spirit, this church cannot go forward.”
evangel: Is the baptism in the Holy Spirit for everyone?
HURST: The apostle Peter told the gathered multitude in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself” (Acts 2:39). We are those who are “far off” in time. The Baptism is for every believer of every age and living in every age of history. The fullness of the Spirit is part of God’s plan for each and every Christian.
God has a purpose for every one of us. We are saved by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone (Ephesians 2:8,9). But right after that passage, verse 10 says we are saved for good works, and God has prepared those works for us. Simply put, we cannot effectively do those good works. We need more than our own ability, and that’s what the Holy Spirit gives; it’s not just the stereotypical thing people sometimes describe as “Holy Spirit boldness.” It’s about empowerment for whatever is needed to accomplish the good works He has planned for each of us. Every believer should pray, “Holy Spirit, help me do the good works I was created in Christ Jesus to do.”
evangel: How does someone begin seeking this?
HURST: It’s a gift — so simply ask. Many expect the Holy Spirit to “take control” of us. But He doesn’t take control; He enables. Jesus is the Baptizer. Pray to Jesus. Say, “Jesus, I am created in You to do good works. Fill me with the Holy Spirit as You promised so I can be the witness You want me to be.” Ask in faith. There is nothing you do to earn it. Start to worship God and, as you pray, speak out as He enables.
And remember, the purpose is not merely to speak in tongues so you can say, “I’ve got it; I’ve arrived.” The Baptism is not a point of arrival; it’s a point of entry into the fullness of the Spirit and doing the good works you were created in Jesus to do.
evangel: Anything else?
HURST: As I travel overseas, I meet so many people with far fewer resources than believers enjoy in the U.S. Yet, through the empowerment of the Spirit, those Christians overseas are accomplishing such great works for the Lord. The resources we have are wonderful, but beyond those resources every one of us needs God’s divine resourcing.
I pray in the Spirit every day, not to prove I’ve got the Baptism but because I don’t know how to pray as I should. Spirit Baptism enables us to intercede for others beyond our own capacities. All of us have a lack of certain resources and all of us need the Spirit’s fullness to do the good works we were created in Jesus to do.