What happens when you put together a panel discussion of four women from all walks of life, ministering in universities, neighborhoods, and cross-cultural settings to discuss the good news of what God has done for us in Jesus Christ? Well, first of all you get an incredible panel discussion, one that stirs the hearts and ignites the soul for the Gospel. Then, if Kathleen Nielson and Gloria Furman are involved, you will see an idea set in motion on how to involve other women and continue to spread the enthusiasm for Gospel proclamation.
Enters Joyfully Spreading the Word: Sharing the Good News of Jesus. In this book Kathleen Neilson and Gloria Furman along with eight other women from a variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, cultures and ages join their pens and put together this beneficial, and heart-warming volume on proclaiming the Gospel.
Joyfully Spreading the Word begins with an introduction by Neilson in which she argues for the necessity of women calling women to share the gospel. Every life context, be it a kitchen table, an office desk, or a podium in front of thousands is a venue for evangelism. The introduction led nicely into the book that is broken up into two major sections: Core Concerns, and Representative Contexts.
The Core Concerns section has four foundational chapters for Gospel ministry. Here is how they break down.
Chapter one by Becky Pippert unfolds the “What” of evangelism. She answers the question, what is the Gospel message with an excellent overview of the Bible from Creation, to Crisis, to Christ’s redemption to Christ’s Return.
Chapter two by Megan Hill deals with the heart of the evangelist. Hill references 1 Tim. 4:16 where Paul tells Timothy “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers.” She rightly emphasizes the necessity of a heart that’s been changed by the gospel proclaimed.
Chapter three by Camille Hallstrom and introduced by Kathleen Neilson deals with cross-cultural evangelism. It centers around a play Hallstrom (Founder and Chair of the theatre department, Covenant College) decides to put on. I’ll have to leave it here. I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Chapter four by Eowyn Stoddard unpacks the two-sided coin of gospel proclamation and mercy ministry. She demonstrates there is no conflict between the two; in fact, they go hand in hand.
Section Two, Representative Contexts, has six chapters dealing with the different spaces women are in which provide ample opportunities to proclaim the Gospel.
Gloria Furman leads off this section (chapter 5) with a call for women to take advantage of gospel opportunities in everyday life. Here’s a quote I resonated with, “the ambassador must know the message, articulate it clearly and faithfully, and remember that she is never “off duty… we do not clock out of being ambassadors when we enter our kids’ bedroom, nor when we leave our front door.”
Chapter six by Jamie Love encourages moms, grannies, aunts, and any other woman in contact with children to take advantage of these providentially captive audiences. Using Eunice and Lois, Timothy’s mother and grandmother as role models, Love gives hope for those who labor among children. Needless to say, this was my favorite chapter for many reasons. Two stick out, the author and the grandchildren she referenced.
In chapter seven SharDavia Walker discusses how important and strategic the college/university campus context is for evangelism. The work is hard, unimpressive, and filled with doing the same small tasks each day, says Walker. But through these labors God amazingly redeems and brings His children home to Himself.
Work can be a tricky place to evangelize. Happy Khambule sheds much needed light in chapter eight for those who desire to faithfully proclaim the gospel at the job. One of the most effective ways to witness at work is to be loving and caring. This, according to Khambule is how doors for effective gospel work are opened in the workplace.
Chapter nine by Rosaria Butterfield explores the myriad opportunities to share the gospel among our friends who identify as LGBTQ. She deals forthrightly with the complications and conflicts that often occur with such volatile friendships. Her candor and honesty are breathtaking and instructional. There’s much to learn here from this gospel proclaiming practitioner.
Chapter ten rounds out the book with several cross-cultural gospel proclamation stories. The aim of this final chapter is to encourage women outside of their comfort zones and take to heart the command from Jesus to make disciples of all nations. These stories take you from the home of an American family who took in five Chinese exchange students to a festive “Turkish Coffee Night” with Muslims friends.
From the introduction to the closing stories in chapter ten, Kathleen Neilson and Gloria Furman had the goal of encouraging God’s people, especially women to prepare more diligently and be more intentional in proclaiming the Gospel. They set out to showcase women who not only write about it but are faithful evangelists. I believe they hit the mark. Joyfully Spreading the Word was a real treat to read and an even greater delight to recommend. Pick it up and grab some extra copies for your sisters and brothers in Christ.