We have been privileged to interview another female evangelist this week. Helen Franklin works for Scripture Union and has been an evangelist for many years seeking to spread the good news to children and young people.
My sense of call to evangelism began as a Scripture Union volunteer on a beach mission, with a growing sense of wanting to learn more and do more. Rebecca Manley-Pippert’s book ‘Out of the Saltshaker’ was a very significant book in shaping my thinking and practice of evangelism: I still think it’s the most challenging and helpful thing I’ve read about making evangelism a way of life. Although I never felt particularly effective as an evangelist, it was a deep-rooted desire in me to do all I could to help others to know Jesus. God worked on me, and on the sense of call, and is still doing so today.
The majority of my work is with children, young people and families, and over the years I have run holiday and midweek clubs, special outreach events, beach missions, and have tried to help churches to grasp the need for evangelism to be part of their regular life, and not just something that is done once a year. I am someone who breaks up the concrete in order to reach the ground that can be ploughed and sown. I am currently working with churches and chapels in Wales to help them do more in their communities to make contact with children and families who wouldn’t think of coming to church services. That includes activities in market places and high streets at Christmas, and helping churches to run Summer Salt: ‘pop-up’ missions on beaches and in parks that are based on spending time and building friendships with families through games, activities and telling Bible stories, as well as looking for ways to keep making Jesus known throughout the year.
Have I experienced indescribable joy as an evangelist? Yes. Perhaps most often talking about Jesus on beaches, where people on holiday can be anonymous and therefore ask questions and express interest in a way they can’t at home. But also seeing children hear new things about Jesus: I’ll never forget a group in Manchester to whom I told the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, realising that they had never heard it before and then seeing whole families want to know more of Jesus.
Challenges: probably the biggest is getting churches to believe that things can change, and people are still inquisitive about Jesus. The gospel hasn’t changed, but we need to change our methods of making it known! So please pray for creativity and skill, and for the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearts of those who do know Jesus to the fact that he can use them and for those who don’t know him to be drawn to him.
Evangelism in everyday lives – I’m always challenged by Jesus’ teaching about salt and light: about who we are as people - being as important as what we say. But also recognising the need for balance between being, doing and speaking, so that people don’t simply mark Christians down as ‘nice people who are helpful’, but grasp something of God and his work too.
Helen began with Scripture Union as a volunteer beach mission team member, and has been on their staff for more than 20 years. Her work is focused on helping churches with evangelism and working to create resources and activities appropriate for children, young people and families who are not connected with church. Now working in Wales, Helen is trying to learn the language so that she can communicate effectively with children in Welsh-speaking communities.