By JACLYN TRIEB
On Oct. 15 and 16, 2010, North Central hosted the Overflow Conference. The topic was equipping people to reach others for Christ. Some featured speakers were Don Piper, William Fay, Lisa Bevere and Reggie Dabbs, with music by Sheila Raye Charles.
The conference consisted of workshops, presentations, worship, and hands-on approaches that helped train the attendees how to fearlessly tell others about Jesus.
Evangelist Tom Elie, author of One-Minute Witness, and president of Oasis World Ministries, led the conference. Overflow was the first conference focused solely on evangelism sponsored by the Minnesota District Council of the Assemblies of God.
“My passion is to help people see sharing their faith as normal New Testament Christianity,” said Elie.
Elie’s book features witnessing tools for Christians. He prompts Christians to ask, “What’s the best thing that’s ever happened to you?” and “Can I tell you the best thing that’s ever happened to me?” while witnessing.
On Friday night Don Piper, author of 90 Minutes in Heaven, spoke about how his memory of Heaven is his motivation to witness. Piper said he died for 90 minutes and went to Heaven in 1989. When he first arrived in Heaven, he was greeted by people in his life that helped bring him to salvation.
Piper prompted the audience to think about the people they will greet after they have died and gone to Heaven.
“If we greet people at the gates of Heaven that we helped get there, who will you greet? Will you greet anyone?”
Piper explained that Christians need to turn their mess into their message and their test into their testimony. Christians have to use their unfortunate circumstances and help those in similar situations, instead of getting angry and feeling sorry for themselves.
“It’s not what happens to you,” Piper said in an interview. “It’s what you do with what happens to you that matters. Heaven is real; Jesus is the way.”
Evangelist and author of Share Jesus Without Fear, William Fay taught the audience practical ways to evangelize to anyone they meet. According to Fay, the biggest fear for Christians that prevents them from sharing their faith is rejection.
“It’s not about success or failure, it’s about obedience,” said Fay.
He said the key to keeping peace in a witnessing conversation is to ask lots of questions and to listen to the response. In his book, Fay has a specific series of questions to present while sharing the Gospel. For example, if the person who is being witnessed to does not want to discuss Jesus any further, he advises dropping the subject.
Fay stressed the importance of not forcing your beliefs onto a person.
“Jesus never healed anyone who didn’t want to be healed. Love is never forced. If the Holy Spirit can’t convince them, then you sure can’t.”
Sheila Ray Charles, the daughter of the late jazz legend Ray Charles and founder of One Way Up Prison Ministry, was the musical guest at the conference.
“I would love it if I could make every person realize the importance for evangelism, said Charles during an interview. “There’s no reason why they can’t be telling everyone about God’s Word.”
Charles gives God the glory for everything, but life was not always easy.
As the daughter of Ray Charles, Sheila had many expectations to live up to.
“It was hard to live up to the expectation of who he was,” she said. “People asked why I wasn’t more like him. This hurt me because I wanted to know too.”
Regarding her musical career, Charles said God told her that if she gave her career to Him, He would bless it. As a successful musical artist, Charles believes “the joy and gratification of spreading God’s Word is better than anything.”
Lisa Bevere, an international speaker, best-selling author and the host of television program “The Messenger,” spoke on Saturday about topics from her new book, “Lioness Arising.”
Bevere said she received a vision from the Lord years ago about a lioness. God told her that the lioness represents the Bride of Christ.
“We are the Bride of Christ, but we are not in the wedding yet,” explained Bevere. “We are in a fight. There is nothing more dangerous than lions fully awake. We need to be up and awake to what God is doing. We need to understand why we are waking up.”
“It’s time for the Bride of Christ to become the Lioness,” she said in an interview. “We need men, women, young and old to come together.”
Bevere told the audience that this is the time for the children of God to pray powerful prayers for people to come to know Him because this is God’s year to act. Each Christian has to realize how much the world and the Body of Christ needs them to obey the Lord and evangelize to the lost. She added that Christians need to be spiritually awake to evangelize.
“People with eyes to see don’t see crowds, they see individuals.”
National youth speaker and North Central graduate Reggie Dabbs compared Noah and the Ark to the church of today. Dabbs said Christians have to obey the Lord even when it seems impossible and ridiculous. Outside of his family, Noah couldn’t convince one person to go on the ark with him, but his obedience resulted in saving mankind from eternal destruction.
Dabbs said obeying the Lord is better than gaining a number of people you helped bring to salvation.
“Whatever God puts on your heart, do it,” he said. “Quit asking ‘why’ and just do it. How can God bless you the way He wants to when all you have is a rubber raft when He told you to build an ark?”
The Overflow Conference taught lessons on why each Christian is valuable and reasons why Christians need to obey God and evangelize fearlessly. Attendees were challenged to go out into the streets and public places and use their new knowledge of evangelism to tell people about salvation through Jesus.