Frank Laubach had true missionary zeal. When he set out to reach unevangelized people, he set himself the task of finding the hardest place in the world to reach. He wanted to reach the least-reached, most resistant people on earth. He determined that these were the Moro people in the Philippines, so he moved there.
For years Frank Laubach’s work seemed fruitless. He couldn’t teach Moro people English, so he couldn’t tell them about his Lord. He was a failure. But then one day, Frank caught a new vision of his ministry. He should be willing to learn their language, to speak to them in their own words, and about their own culture. Then he could tell them about Christ. But the Moro language was not a written language. It had no alphabet. How would he learn it?
Frank took great pains to learn and study the language, and slowly he set down a written Moro alphabet, and then he began creating words out of it. All the Moros were eager to learn this new written language. And soon, Frank Laubach created a system called, “Each One Teach One,” so that new students would pass their knowledge onto others.
Next, Frank traveled to other islands in the Philippines to study the languages there. He wrote out alphabets and word guides for other previously unrecorded languages. Soon, people who had never dreamed of reading or writing were doing both. And they were able to record and pass on information easily, instead of relying on oral accounts for everything. Frank Laubach spent the rest of his life traveling around the world working with unreached people groups, helping them create alphabets and written accounts of their language. And each time he taught someone their language, he charged them to go and teach another person, and to pass on the knowledge that way. Through this simple method, sixty million people around the world learned to read. (Crusaders for Freedom by Henry Steele Commager. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1962, 20-27, p.143-146.)
The efforts of one person helped teach sixty million people around the world to read. Frank Laubach could have thrown in the towel in the Philippines. He could’ve quit when he encountered a language barrier that prevented him from sharing the good news about Jesus. Instead, he worked harder. And then his policy of “each one, teach one” multiplied exponentially until sixty million people were changed. One man’s determination and his commandment to tell others resulted in a better world for sixty million people.
Can you imagine how our world would be changed if every Christian told someone else about Jesus and that person accepted Christ as Savior and Lord? Frank Laubach beat the odds with his system of “each one teach one.” We who have accepted Jesus as our Savior have also been given a mandate. The Great Commission as found in Matthew 28 commands us to “go into all the world and make disciples.” As followers of Jesus, we are to enlist others to follow Jesus too. And then they are to share the good news. That is the manner in which the early church grew. One person told another who told another who told another. We are indirectly beneficiaries of their witnessing.
Just imagine what would have happened if Peter or Paul had never told someone about Jesus? How would Christianity have fared if these faithful men had been content to sit on the greatest gift they had ever received and not shared it with anyone? What if they had said, “Well, all I have to do to go to heaven is to accept Jesus and then live a good life: go to church, be good to my family, obey the law, and give money to the church so that others can tell people about Jesus.” The gospel would certainly not have spread as quickly. Now imagine in what kind of world we would live if more people actually told others about Jesus. Is it enough to just come to church, be good to your family, obey the law and give money to the church so that others can tell people about Jesus? Personally, I say that it is not sufficient.
If Jesus gave his life on the cross for us, if God is granting us eternal life by believing in Jesus, then we should be sharing that kind of news with others. The love that Jesus had for us in giving his life should flow through us recognizing that there are many who have not experienced that love. We should look around us, and because of our love for others, we are to tell them about Jesus.
That’s what Andrew and Phillip did. In our passage this morning, I read John’s account of Jesus’ calling of his first disciples. John the Baptist had been preaching about the imminent arrival of the Messiah, the Christ, the Promised One of Israel. Our passage records that John the Baptist spoke to two of his disciples when he said, “There he is; the Lamb of God.” We later learn that the two disciples were Andrew and another disciple, probably the disciple John who is the writer of the Gospel that bears his name. And then Andrew and John trailed Jesus. Knowing that he was being followed, Jesus asked them, “What do you want?”
These two men wanted to know if Jesus was the real deal, the genuine article. They asked where he was staying and he responded, “Come and see.” Jesus still makes that offer today; over and over again, Jesus is open for people to come and see him. Take a step of faith and experience the Master. Come and see the goodness of God; come and see the One who can grant eternal peace; come and see the one who loved you so much that he gave his life for you.
They went with Jesus and spent the day with him. As a result, they were changed men. So what did Andrew do after he met Jesus? He shared his news with the person closest to him. We should be responding likewise. When I have some great news, I can’t wait to tell my wife Jennifer. If the news is magnificent, then I want to share it with my dearest friend. That is what Andrew did. He shared the news of his meeting the Messiah, and then he brought his brother Simon to Jesus. When Jesus saw him, he said, “You are Simon, son of John, but from now on, you will be called Cephas.” Cephas was the Aramaic word for rock; Petros or Peter means rock in Greek. Do you know what the name Simon means? Sinking sand. Jesus told him that his identity would change from sinking sand to a rock. And we know that Jesus was correct.
The next day, they all left for Galilee, the home province of Andrew, Simon Peter, and John the disciple. Jesus found Philip along the way and said, “Follow me,” and he did. Philip was also from the province of Galilee; he was actually from the same hometown as Andrew and Simon Peter.
Once Philip had encountered Jesus, he went and found Nathanael and said, “We have found the one about whom Moses wrote in the Law and the One about whom the prophets had written. His name is Jesus and he’s from Nazareth. He’s Joseph’s son.”
Nathanael was skeptical. Nazareth was a rival town to Cana, which was Nathanael’s hometown. We all know how small town rivalries go. The idea was prevalent even in first century Palestine. So Nathanael said, “Nazareth? Are you kidding? Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”
When I was growing up, there was rivalry between College Park and East Point. For some, there is a rivalry between Madison and Greensboro or Madison and Eatonton. Even before the National Championship game last Monday night, there was a rivalry between Georgia and Alabama. I have heard some Georgians say that the best thing to come out of the state of Alabama is I-20 going east. Nathanial wondered if anything good could come out of Nazareth.
Instead of arguing with Nathanial, Philip simply replied “Come and see.” Rarely is anyone ever argued into the Kingdom of God. There is simply no reason to argue that point. Instead, we should encourage others to come and see. Come and experience for yourself.
Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said, “Behold a son of Israel in whom is no deceit.” Jesus offered a play on words regarding the great patriarch Jacob, also known as Israel, who was known to play tricks on people. Nathanael then believed in Jesus also.
There is a pattern in the witnessing practices of Andrew and Philip. We can look at their actions and learn some tips of how we can be better witnesses.
The first similarity was that they both had a personal encounter with Jesus. We cannot tell someone about Jesus if we have never met him. I can’t tell you how majestic Niagara Falls looks, because I have never seen it in person. I have seen pictures and know people who have visited there. I’ve read about the breathtaking view. I can tell you some facts about Niagara Falls, but I have never experienced it. For me to encourage you to visit Niagara Falls would be empty. But if I ever go there, I’ll certainly be able to tell you with first-hand knowledge. I will be a credible witness. To be a credible witness for Christ, it is imperative that the person has had a personal experience with Jesus.
Next note that after the personal encounter with Jesus, the first thing that Andrew did was to find Simon. Likewise, after he met Jesus, Philip found Nathanael. The news was so grand that they looked for someone special. They could’ve told anyone on the road, but they went specifically to find an individual.
After Andrew found his brother Simon and Philip found Nathanael, they both said, “We have found him.” Andrew called Jesus the Messiah; Philip described Jesus as the one about whom Moses and the prophets wrote. They had to tell someone, not just anyone, but someone special. The experience was so thrilling that they had to share the news.
Finally, after finding Simon and Nathanael and telling them about Jesus, Andrew and Philip took them to Jesus. They wanted them to see him for themselves. Jesus already knew them; he was waiting for them. He knew who they were.
And he still does. Jesus still awaits the arrival of many individuals into his welcome arms. But for people to come to him, they have to be invited or introduced by someone. That someone is you and me.
Through Frank Laubuch’s efforts, sixty million people learned to read. His principle of “each one teach one” really paid off. Our world would be a better place if we were to follow the examples of Andrew and Philip. If we have experienced Jesus ourselves, then we have also been commanded to tell others. First we have to seek them out. We have to find them. Honestly, one does not have to look far to find another who does not know Jesus.
What person do you need to find? Who in your life does not know Jesus? I encourage you to share the good news of God’s love with that person. Find them and then tell them. Do not allow fear to rob you of a wonderful opportunity.
Many of us have already found a person that does not know Jesus, yet we have not told them. Nothing is more important than a person’s walk with Christ. Talk to that person.
Find them; tell them and then bring them to Jesus. Our Savior stands with outstretched arms waiting for us to bring our friends and family members to him. We must find, tell, bring, and if we do, the Kingdom of God will multiply. And if we do, just think how their world will change . . . and ours will change too.