LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Bill Fay, a respected evangelist and author of “Sharing Jesus Without Fear,” was recognized as the first-ever recipient of the Reach Evangelism Legacy award.
Kentucky Baptist Convention Executive Director-Treasurer Todd Gray presented the accolade during a webinar featuring Fay and his unique approach to evangelism on Thursday.
“We wanted to recognize and honor Fay’s life,” said Gray, “and the legacy he has lived for the past several decades for being a faithful gospel witness.”
Gray said convention leaders originally intended to recognize Fay at the 2020 Reach Evangelism Conference in February, but the in-person event was canceled due to the coronavirus.
During the presentation, Gray called Fay an encouragement to Kentucky Baptists and shared how “Sharing Jesus Without Fear” influenced his own budding ministry. He called Fay’s approach to share the gospel ever “fresh and engaging” and “so simple any of us can do it.”
“It is the method the Lord used that really helped shape my evangelistic witness,” said KBC Evangelism Associate Kenny Rager. “I encourage folks to take their small groups, their Bible studies, their church, through this training material, and to get a small New Testament ‘derringer’ that they could put in their back pocket.”
“Sharing Jesus Without Fear,” first released in 1999, has been called LifeWay Christian Books’ best-selling evangelism resource. So far, the book is translated into more than 50 languages. It was re-released in 2016 as a Bible study. An accompanying booklet, “How to Share Your Faith Without an Argument,” has more than five million copies in print.
All that literary success is only heightened by the remarkable life transformation of the author.
“I think he is a great testimony of someone who has been forgiven much, loves much,” said KBC Evangelism Team Leader Rob Patterson.
Before he gave his life to Christ, Fay followed his own set of rules. He admitted to cheating his way through college. He’s been divorced three times, married four. He was a gambler, had ties to the Mafia, and was arrested for running a house of prostitution. By his second arrest, he thought drugs or alcohol, or suicide were his only escape.
“Bill found it was time to evaluate his life and, by God’s grace, he came to know the Lord Jesus Christ during that time,” said Patterson. “Bill’s been sharing Jesus without fear ever since.”
Fay’s newfound peace and purpose eventually led to him traveling around the world teaching and equipping Christians to be fearless evangelists. Inspiring his relentless pursuit is a statistic that says 97 percent of Southern Baptists will die without ever sharing their faith with another person. Fay said the overwhelming lack of personal evangelism by so-called Christ-followers is the prevailing sin in North American churches.
“Your purpose as a Christian is to be a witness,” Fay said. “Either we start sharing our faith collectively, or we’re going to be accountable to God on judgment day. We don’t want that.”
Fear of rejection and failure are the two major reasons Christians do not tell others about Jesus, but Fay said those emotions are fundamentally flawed. When people discount or push back at people sharing their faith, it is God they are rejecting—not the messenger. And that fact plays into the second fear: Failure. Often Christians speak of “winning people to Christ,” but evangelism is not a competitive sport that can be played. God has already won, and it is the power of God that convicts the hearts of unbelievers.
Fay’s method uses a three-step witnessing strategy that begins with determining a person’s spiritual condition. In the second step, the person is asked to read several key verses in the Bible and summarize his or her understanding of the verses. The last step is asking the person for a decision.
To determine a person’s spiritual condition, Fay offers the following questions:
Using this relational way to witness about Jesus lets the Bible speak for itself and helps Christians navigate a witnessing conversation in everyday situations.
Patterson said Fay has shared the gospel in one-on-one settings more than 10,000 times by following the steps laid out in his book. “What an incredible example for us,” Patterson said.
“There are only two motives for evangelism,” Fay said. “Love of God and love of people. The same resurrection power that brought Christ back from the dead lives in every born-again believer. Does your neighbor know the faith that is in you?”