Wineskins Archive

January 22, 2014

AfterGlow: The Rescue Brigade (Jul – Aug 1993)

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by Phillip Morrison
July – August, 1993

Theodore Wedel, of the Washington Cathedral in our nation’s capital, used to tell an intriguing and disturbing modern parable about a lifesaving station.

Located on a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks occurred frequently, the station was housed in a crude hut and served by a handful of dedicated volunteers. With little thought for their own safety, these workers went out day and night, rescuing so many of the lost that their little station became famous.

Many people wanted to be associated with the now-famous and successful lifesaving station. As the number of volunteers grew, new boats were bought, new crews were trained, volunteers became members, and a new building was constructed. New furniture replaced the worn cots and shabby chairs, and the station became a popular and comfortable gathering place. Though lifesaving was still the stated purpose of the organization, and the lifesaving motif was prominent in the decorations, the members became less personally involved. Rationalizing that, after all, they were just inadequate volunteers, they hired some professional lifesaving crews to do their work.

When a large ship wrecked just off the coast, the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, dirty, half-drowned people. Some were sick from the arduous journey, and some had yellow and some brown skin. The beautiful new club was mud-caked and wet, and who knew what disease germs had been left by the shipwreck victims.

At the next meeting there was a split in the club membership. A minority of the members insisted that the primary purpose of the group was lifesaving. But they were voted down and told they could begin their own lifesaving station just down the coast. They did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. “History continued to repeat itself, and today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but most of the people drown!”

Evangelism…lifesaving… soulsaving… will never get done by people who spend all their time getting ready. Nor will it be done by people who keep searching for easy formulas and sure-fire methods. And it certainly won’t be done by people who try to hire spiritual mercenaries to take their place.

The demon-possessed man healed by Jesus understandably wanted to follow his Savior. But Jesus told him, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you” (Mark 5:18-20). None of us will ever improve on that divine plan for the who, the how, and the why of evangelism.Wineskins Magazine

Phillip MorrisonPhillip Morrison was, for many years, managing editor of Wineskins Magazine and wrote the column “AfterGlow” opposite its inside back cover. He was also the former managing editor for Upreach magazine, and worked as a fund-raising consultant and conducted study tours to Bible lands.

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