When any Christian hears the words ‘street evangelist’, two things generally occur. Firstly, the thought is that the person in question must really know their Bible. Secondly, a slight shiver goes down their spine.
Evangelism is a scary enough prospect for even the most committed Christian. But street evangelism? That is on another level, where you not only have to know your Word, but the chances of outright persecution, and at worst, ridicule, is very high.
Bruce Kelly, the author of the remarkable new book, In Front Of Them All, got used to dealing with the public after a 25-year career as a police officer. As he says, the lessons he learned in caring for the flock stood him in good stead after such a long career “looking after sheep with two legs!”
He says that these skills helped in his career on the raw edge of life in attending murder scenes, suicides, domestic violence, accidents and petty crimes. In all of this, he learned more about others, himself and God.
Becoming comfortable with dealing with the general public, and no doubt being able to handle himself if any situation was to get out of hand, Bruce took his knowledge of the Bible – and his love for people – to the street. As a street evangelist in the Australian state of Victoria, Brucedsays he ministered to thousands of people.
As Bruce told me, “There are plenty of books dealing with evangelical doctrine. However, I have not seen many presenting evangelism as a practical grassroots ministry. This book is especially written to assist the younger generation in transferring the evangelical message in simple fashion outside the four walls of the church and on to the street.
“Every Christian should be doing the work of evangelism according to their giftedness and the circumstances of their lives. I learned to engage people with my story in a process of challenge and excitement, and soon concluded that more people out there are prepared to listen to a good Biblical story than there are Christians willing to share.”
Bruce makes a very valid point. While most Christians are afraid to share their faith, people are actually much more open to the Gospel than we think. And when tied in with how our personal faith has shaped our lives, there is a huge marketplace of people searching for Jesus – even if they’re not aware of it.
“One objective in writing this book is to encourage older Christians with their wealth of knowledge on evangelism to download the how-to of the Gospel message to the younger generation, who are struggling to find their way in the Christian life,” Bruce said.
“As an older Christian, I loved every moment of my ministry. I pray that through reading this book, readers will be inspired to encourage young Christians in evangelism and at the same time, that you too might take your place in the ‘Great Commission.’
“After all, the Bible does command us to Go into all the world and share the Good News.”
Bruce was also involved for fifteen years in church planting as a home missioner with the Baptist Union of Victoria. He was the first pastor of three churches – two in Victoria and one in the Kimberleys region of Western Australia. He was also involved in interim ministries in New South Wales and with remote Aboriginal communities in Western Australia. In this he learned how to baptize, marry and bury.
Upon returning to Victoria, he has shared his story and literature in many languages with thousands of students, tourists and public over the last twenty years.
Bruce had no intention of writing a book about his life, until he was challenged by his pastor to write a book that would describe in detail his experience of street evangelism. He says that soon after receiving the challenge, he seriously broke an ankle, and as a form of therapy in the recovery process and the advent of Covid, his book began to be formed.
In Front of Them All is not just Bruce’s story, but will inspire and encourage you to adopt a lifetime role of Great Commission activities in accord with your giftedness and circumstances of life. As you read Bruce’s remarkable story, you will be challenged to understand that evangelism is a core component of your life.
In Front Of Them All, published by Ark House, is now available globally.