Proverbs – 11:30 – “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he who wins souls is wise.” NKJV
The last portion of that verse should be both an encouragement and compulsion for every believer in our daily lives. It clearly declares that it is the privilege and duty of every believer to reject the notion that evangelism or spreading the gospel is to be relegated to the “professionals” or preachers. It is the expressed commission of every believer to “go ye therefore” and spread the news of the gospel and salvation that can only be found in Christ Jesus our Lord. There are myriads of stories of people in history who have been powerfully used of God in evangelism and I wish to share one of those.
In the 1700’s there was a young black man named John Marrant. He was born in New York, his father passed away when John was eleven, and his mother sent him to Charleston, South Carolina, to live with an older sister and learn a trade. Instead of following that course, he became a skilled with both the violin and French horn. In a couple of years, he became a child prodigy and as he recounted, “I was invited to all the balls and assemblies that were held in the town and met with general applause of the inhabitants. I was a strange to want, being supplied with as much money as I had any occasion for.” His talent made a place for him and provided for him amazingly.
The story is, that on his way to perform at a particular event, he and his traveling companion passed a crowded meetinghouse where they observed an incredibly large crowd and saw, “a crazy man was hallooing there.” The “crazy man” was none other than George Whitfield and a major religious leader in what is known as the “First Great Awakening”. Most know a little of the history of George Whitfield and know it is estimated that he preached to as many as 10 MILLION people and preached over 18 THOUSAND sermons averaging over 500 messages per year. In his meetings, it has been reported, that up to 500 people would fall to the ground prostrate under the power of his sermons and the power of God. Marrant’s friend dared him to disrupt the meeting by taking his French horn and sound out a loud blast. As he raised the horn to his lips Whitefield saw him and said, “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel!” Marrant fell to the ground as though he had been struck down by some unseen force and lay there for over one-have hour. Whitfield ministered to him as he came to and after three days John Marrant accepted Jesus as his personal savior.
Marrant returned to his family to share his experience and they rejected him. He took a similar path as Moses and fled to the wilderness where he was befriended by a Cherokee warrior. They spent ten weeks together hunting, fishing, and becoming fast friends. Eventually, they went to the warrior’s village and he was immediately made a prisoner because the Cherokee’s were at war with the settlers and Marrant, though black, was clearly one of the settlers. The chief threatened his life and Marrant spoke to the tribe in their own language, sharing the gospel of Jesus and according to Marrant: “The king [the chief] himself was awakened [converted], and the others set at [spiritual liberty]. A great change took place among the people; the king’s house became God’s house; the soldiers were ordered away, and the poor condemned prisoner [John] had perfect liberty and was treated like a prince. Now the Lord made all my enemies become my great friends.” The chief gave him permission to evangelize the entire tribe and he did so for nine weeks and also reached out to the Muskogees. It was said of Marrant that he was “A Negro in America…who spread the seed of Christianity among the Native American Indians before the birth of the American Republic.”
Later Marrant worked as a carpenter on a plantation near Charleston, and his heart was broken for the spiritual condition of the slaves and as he preached to them, many were converted. This resulted in terrible treatment for those converted but they remained true to the word of Christ and forgave those that abused them. When the American Revolution began, Marrant was captured by the British and forced into service in the British navy. After the war, he was ordained and continued his soul winning in England, then Canada and finally back in the United States. He died of an illness when he was 36 but his life left an indelible mark on multitudes. He truly lived the admonition of Proverbs 11:30, that “He who wins souls is wise.”
I have discovered that what holds our hearts also finds its way in our conversation. God help us to become so gripped with the joy of salvation we cannot be silent but become those who fulfill this admonition of Proverbs 11:30. God bless you as you embark on this beautiful day in Jesus!