With a middle name like Salvation, nothing seems more critical to the Army’s mission than soul–winning. Major Stephen Court acknowledges people’s discomfort with both the words soul and winning, for good reasons (see Go for Souls, his 2019 revamp of Frances Longino’s A Guide for the Salvationist Soul–Winner circa 1960). Yet, this imperfect term is near the heart of Salvationism—turning people toward Christ, from death to life.
We cherish memories of soul–winners such as Frances Longino (1909–1996), a passionate and energetic evangelist, musician, and Army leader; Lt. Colonel Lyell Rader (1902–1994), with his open–air wagon and intense presence; and Commissioner Andrew S. Miller (1923–2011), who pledged to share the gospel with someone every day. But, soul–winners are still among the ranks, even though they resist the label. I asked some Salvationist soul–winners three questions. Here’s what I learned:
What is “soul–winning,” and how is it relevant to today’s Army?
“Soul–winning is a way of life,” says Major Joy Emmons of Belgrade, Maine, “that attracts people to Christ.” It flows from gratitude for God’s grace in Christ Jesus and is empowered by the Holy Spirit.
Lieutenant James Harvin of Chattanooga, Tenn., contends, “Soul–winning is our soul–purpose as followers of Jesus.”
“It’s about sharing the good news of Jesus Christ and preparing people to bring Him into their life,” asserts Major Dennis Young of Dover, Del., who frequently expresses the peace and abundant life that God gives.
Soul–winning is a process. Lieutenant April Davis of Venice, Fla., explains, “People no longer hang out in the streets as they did in 19th century London. People are now in their homes and online. We must get through to people, break through the screens and actually develop relationships. Soul–winning has everything to do with our Army today. It’s our purpose.”
What one myth would you wish to dispel about soul–winning?
It’s only for the gifted—According to Major Bill Dunigan of Congers, N.Y., “Few people consider themselves soul–winners.” But, Young contends, “We are all called to spread the gospel. Jesus didn’t give the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18–20) to just those who got the gift.”
It all depends on me—Pressure can be debilitating and unsustainable. Dunigan reminds us, “We’re not on our own.” Harvin urges, “We must have Jesus at the center of everything.” Young explains, “Early on, I was a high–pressure salesman. I would lose people, not win them; but you don’t have to sell it, you just have to tell it.”
There’s one right way to do evangelism—There’s no cookie–cutter. According to Davis, we mistakenly think “that it looks the same for every person. The Bible speaks to a specific people, time, and culture. We ought to do the same.”
You have to say the right things—Soul–winning is about listening as much as speaking. Emmons is convinced that “We need to listen more than speak to be a soul–winner today.” Dunigan perceives, “Our part is really not difficult or complicated. Let the Holy Spirit do His part.”
What step can any Salvationist take toward being a soul–winner?
Pray—Specifically, Dunigan says, “Ask the Holy Spirit to guide and empower you and cause Jesus to be seen in you. Pray for the opportunity to tell your story and allow God to use it.” For Lieutenant Liz Blusiewicz (Huntington, WV), soul–winning is simply cooperating with “what the Holy Spirit is doing.”
Listen—Emmons says soul–winners must “listen to what people who need Jesus are really saying.” Major Sharon Young (Dover, DE) appeals, “Be willing to have a conversation.”
Nurture Relationships—Share life with those who don’t know Christ; be the friend who loves Jesus; and seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. Dunigan urges, “Stay with them.” Don’t leave newborn Christians without ongoing nurture.
Trust God—Young understands that “People fear rejection;” but, he reasons, “We just want them to hear what Christ has done for us.”
Do Something—The Great Commission mandate to “GO” into all the world entails action. Harvin urges, “Serve others. Go to the broken.”
by Isaiah Allen
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