This week is Independence Day, the day when Americans celebrate not only our establishment as a nation, but also our personal freedoms. As Thomas Jefferson wrote in the Declaration of Independence:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
However, at the time of America’s independence, these rights did not extend to everyone. It would be almost a century later until the Emancipation Proclamation started the process of bringing these rights to all, particularly those held in slavery in the southern states.
One of the heroes from that time is Harriett Tubman. She was a slave who escaped, then dedicated her life to helping others escape through what was known as the “underground railroad.”
She was also a devout Christian who came to Christ through the witness of her mother. She felt that her work in leading others to freedom was her calling from the Lord.
Here are a few lessons I have gleaned from her life that apply to personal evangelism.
1. God is not concerned with our qualifications, but rather with our obedience. Harriet Tubman had no formal education, personal wealth, or significant social standing, yet God used her mightily to accomplish His purposes. She fits with God’s pattern of “qualifying the unqualified” for His work.
In evangelism, it is not how much we know or how much ability we have. It is our availability and willingness He desires.
2. Boldness comes from dependence on the Lord. Harriet Tubman was described by one of her contemporaries as, “One of the best and bravest persons on the continent.” She attributed her boldness to her deep trust in the Lord, “I said to the Lord, I’m going to hold steady on to you, and I know you will see me through.”
Keeping our eyes on the Lord gives us the boldness we need to share the gospel regardless of what we might fear. He is bigger than any challenge we face.
3. Our freedom should motivate us to seek freedom for others. Harriet Tubman recalled to a biographer her first experience of physical freedom, “I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person now that I was free. There was such a glory over everything, the sun came like gold through the trees and over the fields, I felt like I was in heaven.” Her experience drove her to help others experience the same.
When we reflect on our spiritual deliverance from sin and the joy we have in Christ, it should lead us to share it with others by sharing the gospel.
4. Glory and honor belong to God alone. When an admirer of Harriet Tubman praised her work, she was quick to reply, “Don’t I tell you, Missus. It wasn’t me. It was the Lord.” We should be quick to give God the glory and honor for all our work, including our evangelism efforts and success.
I am thankful to the Lord for the freedom we have as Americans. I am also thankful for heroes like Harriet Tubman who fought and worked so bravely to bring that freedom to others.
But I am most thankful for the freedom I have as a child of God. Let us share that freedom with as many as we can and may God get the glory, great things He has done and continues to do.