Adversity Evangelism

SOURCE: Seek the Old Paths, November 2007, page 90.  Check the website:


by James E. Rogers

Adversity seems to come to us all.  When we try to please God, sometimes, we are taken back when things do not go as we wish.  Somehow we convince ourselves that since we are doing right, everything will go as we desire.  The Bible shows that even good people suffer (e.g., Job) when they are doing right.  The challenge is to use that suffering as an opportunity to let others see God.

We hear much about evangelism and much needs to be said.  God expects His people to take His message to the world (Mark 16:15).  Some have introduced “friend evangelism.”  Others talk about “canvass evangelism.”  I would like us to think about “adversity evangelism.”  What can I do, when faced with adversity, to help others think more about God and the doing of His will?  Let us look at some Bible examples of adversity evangelism.

Joseph is an example of adversity evangelism.  He was sold into slavery by his brothers (Genesis 37:25-36).  However, Jehovah was with Joseph (Gen 39:2, 3, 21, 23) in adversity and Joseph used opportunities to tell people about his God.

Joseph told Mrs. Potiphar about God.  When she tried to seduce him, Joseph told her he could not do this great wickedness and sin against God (Genesis 39:9).

Joseph told the butler and the baker about God.  When told about their dreams, which they could not understand, Joseph asked: Do not interpretations belong to God? (Genesis 40:8).

Joseph told Pharaoh about God.  When called into Pharaoh’s presence to interpret a dream, Joseph answered, It is not in me: God will give Pharaoh an answer … what God is about to do he hath declared unto Pharaoh … what God is about to do he hath showed unto Pharaoh … the thing is established by God, and God will shortly bring it to pass (Genesis 41:16, 25, 28, 32).  Pharaoh was so impressed that he said: Can we find such a one as this, a man in whom the spirit of God is?  And Pharaoh said unto Joseph, Forasmuch as God hath showed thee all this, there is none so discreet as thou: thou shalt be over my house, and according to thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou (Genesis 41:38-40).

Joseph told Asenath about God.  When she bore his sons, Joseph used names that told about his God.  With Manasseh, Joseph said, God hath made me forget all my toil, and all my father’s house (Genesis 41:51).  With Ephraim, Joseph said, God hath made me fruitful in the land of affliction (Genesis 41:52).

Joseph told his brothers about God.  In his dealings with his brethren, Joseph referred to God (Genesis 42:18; 43:29; 45:5-9).

Joseph could have done a lot of things in adversity, but he chose to evangelize.  We will have to get to heaven to know how successful Joseph was in his efforts.  It is, however, interesting that it was Joseph’s steward who told Joseph’s brothers that your God, and the God of your father, hath given you treasure in your sacks (Genesis 43:23).

The little maiden is an example of adversity evangelism.  She was taken captive by the Syrians and waited on Naaman’s wife (2 Kings 5:1-2).  She told Mrs. Naaman about God and this evangelism resulted in Naaman’s conversion (2 Kings 5:3-19).

Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah are examples of adversity evangelism.  In Babylon as captives, they told the rulers and others about their God.  They told about God when it came to their diet (Daniel 1).  They told about God in the matter of dreams (Daniel 2, 4).  They told about God when they needed deliverance (Daniel 3).  They told about God with their dedication (Daniel 6).

Paul and Silas are examples of adversity evangelism.  Having received many stripes, they were delivered to the jailer who was charged to keep them safely (Acts 16:23-24).  In order fully to discharge his duty, the jailer …thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.  And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them (Acts 16:24-25).  Such faith and evangelism resulted in their teaching the jailer and his family and the conversion of the same (Acts 16:26-34).

You and I can be examples of adversity evangelism.  We can use opportunities in adversity to glorify God (Matthew 5:13-16).  People are watching us.  How we react to the setbacks of life may very well open a door of opportunity to teach about God.  We meet people in adversity which we probably would not meet otherwise.  Let us talk to them about God.

As we take the great commission seriously and as talking about God becomes a part of our nature, we will find that souls are prepared for eternity as a result of our efforts.  Adversity has a way of causing us to become self-centered.  Instead, let us use it as an avenue of helping others and thereby helping ourselves.

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