by Dr. Jack Hyles
What does it mean to be soul-conscious? Talk to anyone any time or, better still, talk to everyone every time. Realize that everybody has a soul. The drugstore clerk, the barber, the shoeshine boy, the beautician, the grocery clerk, the milkman, bread man, service station attendant needs the Lord and we should witness to them.
Nobody is going to do it every time. It never gets easy to ask, “Are you a Christian?” I practice it. In front of the mirror I say, “Are you a Christian? Are y-o-u a Christian? Have you ever been converted? Are you saved?” I get in the habit of it. I don’t care who you are; I don’t care where you are, it is never easy.
For example, you go to buy a medicine from the druggist. Well, you preachers are pretty nice-looking fellows– you could be mistaken for lawyers. You say, “Hello. How are you today?” The druggist thinks, “Isn’t that a fine fellow.” You know that if you ask, “Are you a Christian?” his opinion of you will change and he will think you are a nut, and nobody wants to be a nut. So you just don’t say anything.
Now you had better get in the habit of asking, “Are you a Christian?” You will win more if you just start witnessing everywhere you go. You will win as many on the side as you do on purpose, and you will have the most wonderful experiences. If you preachers would start winning souls everywhere you go, you wouldn’t have to get a book of illustrations to preach from next Sunday. Instead of saying, “In a distant city many years ago a certain man down a certain street…” you could say, “Last Friday morning out on the field I won somebody to Jesus. Let me tell you about it.” It will liven up your sermons. That way you won’t repeat anybody’s illustrations. They will all be yours.
So, be soul-conscious. I mean by being soul-conscious, make it a habit of asking people everywhere you go, “Are you a Christian?” Ask the bread man, the school teacher, the milkman, the fellow who works in the yard, the telephone man, the fellow who reads the meter for the gas and electricity. Just ask everyone you see, “Are you a Christian? Have you been saved?” Be soul-conscious.
Let me give you this illustration. I was out mowing the yard one day while pastoring in Texas. Our church was the largest church in our city. One out of seven people in town belonged to our church. I saw my members quite often. Now, when I mow the yard, I’m not quite a beauty queen! That day I had on a tee shirt with a hole in the shoulder, and one right under the arm; I had on a pair of old tennis shoes with holes in them, and a pair of trousers with patches in the knee, and I think I had on either a golf cap or a fishing hat. I was a tragic-looking thing, a sight to behold!
My wife came out in the yard and said, “Honey, would you go get some sugar from the neighbor down the street?” I said, “All right, I’ll do it.” So I got the cup and marched down there with my tennis shoes on, and a hole in my breeches and tee shirt, and a fishing cap on. We were very close friends to the folks, so we never knocked. They would come in our house and we would go in theirs– just real close neighbors.
So I walked in and said, “Hey! Anybody home?” And there was– thirteen people at home– company all dressed up in suits and fine clothes. There I was. Imagine, Rev. Hyles, a cup in his hand, fishing hat on, split tee shirt, patch in his breeches, and a pair of tennis shoes on his feet! And I said, “Hello.” The lady looked at me, she looked at her company, then announced, “This is my pastor.” I was horrified! I was humiliated! I wanted to evaporate but couldn’t.
Finally I said, “Excuse me; I’m sorry.” Then I got to thinking. Shoot! Just take over the conversation. Just act like you have good sense. So in I walked. “How do you do! How are you? Are you a Christian?” I went around the entire room asking the same question. Then THEY got embarrassed.
(I found out long ago that when a preacher goes to a hospital or gets some place where he feels like a fifth wheel, he should just bluff them and take over the conversation. That will help you, too. It really will. You go to the hospital. Here is the doctor, the nurse, the family. And everybody says, “That’s the preacher.” You know how you feel, pastors. It’s a terrible feeling. So I walk in, “Hello Doc. How are you?” Make HIM feel bad. Make HIM feel like he’s a fifth wheel.)
So I walked in and asked each person if he or she were a Christian. The last man, a young man, said, “No, I’m not, but I’ve been thinking about it.” Well, I said, “I can help you think about it right here.” We knelt there in that home and opened the Bible. He got converted. He lived at Irving, Texas, forty miles from Garland. I said, “Now, J.D., you need to walk the aisle in the church in Irving tomorrow.” He said, “If you don’t mind, Preacher, I’ll just stay over tonight and come to your church and walk the aisle.” He did, and that night he got baptized in my church. Later he joined the First Baptist Church of Irving, Texas.
You don’t realize how many places you will bump into people. I saw a lady while on vacation just recently. She said, “Hello, Brother Jack. Remember when you won me to the Lord?” I said, “I certainly do.” It happened while I was looking for a Mrs. Marsh. I knocked on Mrs. Marsh’s door– I thought. She came to the door. I said, “Mrs. Marsh?”
“No, I’m Mrs. Tillet.”
I said, “Mrs. Tillet, I thought Mrs. Marsh lived here.”
“No, she lives five houses down the street.”
“Thank you, Mrs. Tillet.” I walked off. Then I said, “Wait a minute, Mrs. Tillet. Are you a Christian?” She began to cry. I led her to Christ right there.
I have won shoeshine boys and fellows on airplanes. I was going to Phoenix to a conference last year. I sat down beside a man seventy-two years old, a wealthy rancher. “Where do you live?” I asked.
He said, “On a ranch between Phoenix and Tucson.”
I said, “Do you and your wife live alone?”
“My wife died a few months ago.”
I asked, “Do you ever think about having anybody else come and live with you?”
“Oh,” he said, “If I could find somebody who would come and live with me, a friend to keep me company, I’d give anything in the world.” He had chauffeurs, servants. He owned a big ranch with hundreds of acres, but was as lonely as he could be.
I said, “I know Somebody who would come and live with you.”
“You do? Does He live in Phoenix?”
I said, “He sure does. He lives everywhere.”
He said, “Who is it?”
“Jesus will come.” In fifteen minutes that man had Somebody to go home with him to live.
Oh, if we will just take time to witness. The trouble is, we are ashamed of Jesus. We don’t mind saying, “Isn’t it hot today?” or, “I wonder how the Berlin situation is.” We don’t mind talking about Khrushchev. We’re more eager to talk about him than about Jesus. Isn’t that a shame! Here we are redeemed. He died for us on the cross. We have been made heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ. He is building a home in Heaven for us. We’re God’s children and we won’t even tell a stranger that we belong to the Lord Jesus.
by Jack Hyles