Living Radically for Jesus in Everyday Life
by LESLIE LUDY
Three Extraordinary Stories
Story No. 1
In a rural cottage on the Isle of Lewis in Scotland, two devout Christian sisters, Peggy and Christine Smith, were deeply burdened because of the widespread spiritual apathy among the young people in their community. They felt compelled to do something to win the youth of their island to Christ. But the two sisters were elderly and in poor health. Peggy was nearly blind, and Christine had severe arthritis and could not stand upright. Both of them were too frail to leave their home. But they realized they were not helpless — because they could pray. And pray they did.
Month after month, they cried out to God for hours each day, often staying up most of the night, asking Him to send revival to their island. God answered their prayers in a most glorious way. He began to stir spiritual hunger in the hearts of the people on the island. Between 1949 and 1952 what became known as the Hebrides Revival swept through the Isle of Lewis and surrounding islands. People suddenly became so hungry for God that they stopped their worldly activities mid-stream. Young people fled from dance halls and pubs as if fleeing from a plague, making straight for the nearest church or to a Christian’s home. An evangelist named Duncan Campbell came to conduct revival meetings on the island for two weeks and ended up staying for two years because of the overwhelming spiritual hunger he encountered. Thousands of people came into the Kingdom of God as a direct result of the faith-filled prayers of two elderly sisters who were too weak to even leave their home.
Story No. 2
On a busy street corner in Sydney, Australia, a young man named Frank Jenner watched hundreds of military men and women bustle around him. He knew most of them would soon be headed onto dangerous battlefronts, and he felt an urgency to reach them with the life-changing message of the Gospel before it was too late. He wasn’t a pastor or trained missionary; he didn’t have a seminary background or any special abilities that equipped him for ministry. But he had an overwhelming passion to bring souls into the Kingdom of God.
In that moment, Frank made a commitment to God that he would witness to ten people each day for the rest of his life, as long as he was physically able to do so. And for decades, that is just what he did. In war-time and in peace, in bad weather and good, Frank left his workplace every afternoon and headed for George Street, a stack of Gospel tracts in his pocket. He came up to people and asked them, “If you died within 24 hours would you be in Heaven or Hell?” He challenged them to think about that question and offered them a Gospel tract. Frank later admitted that even after twenty-eight years of witnessing daily, he never found street evangelism easy, and would frequently remind himself of the verse, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13).
Near the end of Frank’s life, a traveling pastor named Francis Dixon began to hear testimonies, from literally all around the world, of people who had given their lives to Christ because of a man on George Street in Sydney, Australia who had stopped them and asked a simple, soul-searching question. He was amazed that one man’s witnessing could have such a powerful global impact. Dixon eventually met with Jenner and told him about the eternal fruit that his simple street witnessing had borne. Frank was overwhelmed with gratitude that God had used his humble ministry in such a mighty way. After twenty-eight years of faithful ministry, it was the first time he caught a glimpse of the difference his life had made.
Over the course of Frank’s lifetime, it is estimated that he personally witnessed to over 100,000 people. Thousands responded to the Gospel as a result. Many of the people he won for Christ went on to become pastors and missionaries who continued to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ all around the world.
Story No. 3
In a small town on the Colorado-Utah border, a young woman named Peggy struggled to forgive the Japanese soldiers who had killed her missionary parents when they were serving overseas during World War II. As she wrestled with intense grief, she asked God to enable her to love and forgive her enemies. He answered her prayer. She testified, “The Japanese army killed my parents. But the Holy Spirit has washed away my hatred and has replaced it with love.” Peggy sensed that God was asking her to live out this supernatural forgiveness by showing love to the Japanese soldiers who were being held as prisoners of war in an internment camp near her home. She began to visit the internment camp on a regular basis, serving and ministering to the Japanese prisoners.
One prisoner asked why she was showing such love and kindness to men she didn’t even know; men who had fought against her country. Peggy told him the story of losing her parents and shared the message of the Gospel with him. The man was astounded by the love and forgiveness Peggy demonstrated. After the war he returned to his country and told the story to a famous Japanese war hero named Mitsuo Fuchida. Fuchida was so moved by Peggy’s example of love that he began to seek after God and eventually gave his life to Christ. He then traveled all over his country boldly sharing the Gospel with thousands of Japanese people. He told the story of Peggy Covell’s astonishing forgiveness everywhere he went, proclaiming the power of love to be greater than the power of revenge. Thousands across Japan gave their lives to Christ because of one young girl’s simple step of obedience.
It’s easy to believe extraordinary experiences only happen to a select few in every generation; unique people who have a special call to make a significant impact upon the world. But each of the men and women in these stories were just ordinary, everyday people without any special qualifications or talents. They didn’t act in order to make a mark on history, but to honor and serve the One who had redeemed them. And God honored their simple, faithful obedience with eternal, lasting, world-impacting fruit.
. . .
Understanding Our Epic Call
Many times throughout the Gospels, Jesus clearly defines the epic calling upon the life of a Christian:
…I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit,
and that your fruit should remain…
Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields,
for they are already white for harvest!
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.
Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…
…he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also…
How seriously are we taking the amazing calling that He has given us? It’s a calling that goes far beyond sitting in church once a week and attending Bible studies every now and then. We are called to change the world for His glory.
We have been commissioned by the Most High God to build His Kingdom, to go into all the world and preach His Gospel, to shine His light in the midst of the darkness of this age, and to make a difference that will last for eternity.
But as modern Christian women, it’s easy to wonder how this world-changing calling fits into our ordinary, everyday lives. Can we be homemakers, college students, or employees at secular jobs and still live out radical devotion to Jesus Christ? Or must we do something notable, like start an orphanage overseas or preach the Gospel in remote places in order to fulfill the Great Commission?
The real-life stories of the Smith sisters, Frank Jenner, and Peggy Covell — as well as countless Christians throughout history — show us beautiful examples of ordinary-epic Christian living. They changed the world for Jesus Christ in a powerful and lasting way, not by trying to accomplish something big, but simply by taking one step of obedience at a time.
Epic Christian living isn’t something we are meant to pursue as an end in itself. Rather, it is the natural result of becoming fully available to Jesus Christ. Whether you are a stay-at-home mom, a high-school student, an employee at a less-than-exciting job, an invalid, or anything in between, your life will bear lasting eternal fruit when you approach each day with the singular aim of bringing glory to your King.
Let’s look at three keys to becoming an ordinary-epic Christian, no matter who you are or where God has placed you.
1. Be Expectant and Available
There are two different ways we can approach our days. The first approach is to go through the motions of daily life on autopilot, without any real expectations for God’s Spirit to lead us, speak to our hearts, or reach others through us. It’s easy to fall into this mindset when our days are filled with seemingly mundane and unexciting tasks, but taking this approach quickly causes us to pitch our tent in the land of spiritual mediocrity.
The second approach is to wake up each day with an expectant heart, tune our ears to His still, small voice, and make ourselves fully available to Him. When we see each day as an opportunity ripe with divine appointments and God-assignments, we will soon be living out ordinary-epic Christianity without even trying.
Elizabeth Fry was an amazing example of this principle. A wife and mother of eleven, she lived in England in the mid-1800s. At one point early in her Christian walk, she started waking up every morning with a simple prayer in her heart, “Lord, show me how I can most bring You glory this day.” As she made herself daily available to her Lord, she felt the gentle nudge to visit the women prisoners in Newgate Prison, which was not far from her home. What started as a simple step of obedience to help a few needy women slowly grew into a dynamic and life-changing ministry to prisoners all over Europe. Elizabeth eventually became one of the greatest prison reformers in history, not because she was seeking to do something great, but merely because she woke up each morning expectant and available to Jesus Christ.
Whatever your daily circumstances, I challenge you to approach each day with the same expectant and available attitude that Elizabeth had. Wake up each morning asking God how you can bring Him glory that day. Throughout your day, be aware of the divine appointments He is placing in your path and the unique prayer burdens He is placing on your heart. And never forget: no step of obedience is insignificant, no matter how small it may seem at first. As we see in the lives of so many Christians throughout history, God can turn one simple, “Yes, Lord,” into fruit that will last for eternity.
2. Be Eternally Minded
We live in a world filled with innumerable distractions — possibly more than any other time in history because of the phenomenon known as the digital age. As Christians, we often lose sight of our sacred calling to build God’s Kingdom simply because we are too preoccupied with the temporal pleasures and distractions of this earthly life.
Jim Elliot once gave his sister some advice on how to keep her focus on what truly matters: “Live every day as if the Son of Man were at the door, and gear your thinking to the fleeting moment. Just how can it be redeemed? Walk as if the next step would carry you across the threshold of Heaven.”
When we live with eternity’s values in view, it completely changes our daily focus. Our choices, activities, conversations, and thoughts will center around things that will last forever instead of that which will fade into nothing. Being eternally minded is what enables us to recognize the God assignments that He has prepared in advance for us, instead of being constantly distracted by the clamor of culture. (See Ephesians 2:10.)
God has entrusted us with the precious gift of time. Twenty-four hours in every day, seven days in every week. Each day significant, each hour important, and each moment of value to God. How many of those moments are being spent on things that matter in light of eternity? Only when we are willing to give God the best hours of our day — rather than whatever is left after we have wasted most of our time on trivial things — will we be able to fulfill the incredible calling He has given us.
I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can spend more of your time on what is truly important in light of eternity. Maybe it means replacing some of your entertainment or social media time with purposeful times of prayer and studying God’s Word. Or it could mean using more of your free time to share Christ with non-believers in your community, or maybe even in your own home. Whatever God pinpoints, be willing by His grace to replace a temporal focus with an eternal one. When we consecrate our time to Christ, we find deeper satisfaction than anything the distractions of this world can offer. We won’t need to chase after the world’s counterfeit excitement, because we will be living in the real-life adventure of world-changing Christianity.
3. Be Willing to Step Out of Your Comfort Zone
I recently heard a true story about a woman in her seventies who became a Christian in her later years. She had a burden to build the Kingdom of God, but didn’t know what she could do in her stage of life. She went to the pastor of her church and offered to teach a Sunday school class for children, but there was no opening. The pastor suggested that they pray together for God to open an opportunity for Kingdom work.
Later that day she was trimming flowers outside her house when a Chinese exchange student happened to walk by. They struck up a conversation, and she invited him in for tea and cookies. The young college student had been in the United States for nearly a year and had not yet been invited to anyone’s home, so he was thrilled to accept the offer. Having grown up in a culture that highly respected older people, he listened with great interest as she shared her testimony with him. He asked if he could visit again and bring a friend along.
Witnessing to foreign exchange students was not something this woman felt equipped for. But she remembered her pastor’s prayer and told God she was willing to step out of her comfort zone if this was the door He was opening for her. The next day the young man came back and brought along another Chinese student. The woman invited them both in and shared her faith with them. They continued to visit her and bring more and more friends along, until over seventy Chinese students were coming to this woman’s home for Bible studies on a weekly basis.
Many of us put limits on what God can do through us because of our own insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. But we must never forget that what God calls us to, He equips us for. Next time God places a Kingdom opportunity in front of you, don’t let fear or insecurity keep you from embracing it. When we remain dependent upon Him, we can be confident that He will give us every bit of wisdom, courage, and grace that we need to rise up to the challenge.
. . .
Dear sisters, the time is short and the fields are ripe for harvest. Let’s not fall for the lie that building the Kingdom of God is a task reserved only for those few heroic Christians written about in history books. However ordinary your life may be, the calling He has given you is anything but! The moment you make yourself fully available to Him, you’ll become part of His epic, world-changing rescue plan. What could be more exciting than that?