Dr. Kevin Parker - 2018

Dr. Kevin Parker serves as a state missionary and director of media services for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

“God, help me. Revive me. Convict me. Empower me to be on mission everywhere, all the time, with everybody.” I wrote those words as my prayer after reading and pondering John 4:4-7. The passage is not a whole story. It is only the beginning of one. But, it reveals weighty details about Jesus’ example of missional living. Listen.

“And He had to pass through Samaria. So, he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”

The setting was rural and relatively remote. No crowds were seeking Jesus. Though a few people may have been nearby, the location was unsuitable for advancing a cause. Frankly, it was the kind of place many people avoid. Any audience would have been small.

I noticed some things about Jesus and His encounter. First, the location was not much of a choice. Scripture clarifies that this was the only way from Jerusalem to Jesus’ destination. He had no other options. John wrote that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (v. 4). The original language describes an inevitable or unavoidable situation.

Second, Jesus was weary from his journey. He may have walked or may have ridden a donkey. The text does not say. Either way, Jesus’ travels had drained His physical energy. In these verses, He was sitting beside the well. His disciples had left Him there while they went into the nearby village to find food and refreshment to bring back.

Third, the woman who came to draw water was an unlikely evangelistic subject. Social customs and issues obstructed their interaction. She was probably visiting the well at that time to avoid people. Her gender and lineage presented significant challenges, as did her relationship status. She knew those things, too. She was socially inaccessible to Jesus, and her attention was unlikely.

Yet, despite the location, the timing, and the social awkwardness, Jesus remained on mission. Any of those situations could have prompted Him to “take a break” from ministry. But, He did not. For Jesus, the Gospel was for anyone, anywhere, anytime. She was lost. That single detail mattered more to the Savior of the World than anything else.

Rather than a “photo op,” Jesus faced someone loved by God. Jesus was the Savior and wanted to be that woman’s Savior.  In fact, He wanted to be the Savior for every person in her village. Jesus was going to die for their sins; so, He spoke to her. He ignored every barrier.

This story reflects rural evangelism. Jesus had just left the big city and was demonstrating rural Great Commission ministry. The woman at the well might have never seen Jesus, except He came to her well. He showed up. He engaged her in a spiritual conversation. She and her small town mattered to Him.

Without even getting started with the story, I had to stop and pray. I recalled the four steps to evangelism: seeing lost people, engaging them in spiritual conversations, telling them God’s story and inviting them to follow Jesus. In those things, I want to be just like Jesus. Though I am no one’s savior, I am Jesus’ witness. He sent me. He told me to go.

So, I prayed. I first wrote the words in my journal - neither complicated nor flowery. I wrote, “God, help me. Revive me. Convict me. Empower me to be on mission everywhere, all the time, with everybody.” I realized that I need to listen more intently and let Jesus choose the time and place of evangelism. He makes better choices than me. Do you need to pray along with me?

I encourage every New Mexico Baptist to look around all the time. Believers need to see lost people, just like Jesus can see them. They need to engage lost people in spiritual conversations, just like Jesus did. They need to tell God’s story naturally and passionately - that is what witnesses do. Jesus did that, too. Then, they need to invite people to follow Jesus. Don’t make their choice for them. Always offer the opportunity to receive forgiveness and eternal life, just like Jesus did.

Kevin Parker is editor of the Baptist New Mexican news journal and GoBNM.com, news and information outlets for the Baptist Convention of New Mexico.

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