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Let’s Make Evangelism Great Again

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The story I’m about to tell you might sound like a myth—but it’s true. How do I do know? I know because I was a witness to these events.

In 1993, I met the “Naked Preacher.” He was a linebacker for the Indianapolis Colts. That year was my rookie season in the NFL. I knew I would encounter a different world as an NFL player, but I did not expect to see a 6-foot-2, 240-pound man wrap a towel around his waist and share the gospel with my teammates! He would ask the guys, “Do you know Jesus?” In my mind, I was thinking, “Do you know you are half naked?”

One day, I was sitting at my locker, and I saw the Naked Preacher walking towards me. I thought, “Oh no, here comes that religious guy.” Then he asked me a question that forever transformed my life: “Rookie D. Gray, do you know Jesus?” And with that question, he walked with me for five years (1993-1997).

On Aug. 2, 1997, from summer training camp, I called my wife on the phone and shared with her, “I want to be more committed to you and I want to be committed to Jesus.” After our conversation, I just wept, thinking, “How could Jesus love and forgive someone like me!” I was redeemed by Jesus, reconciled to God, forgiven and justified by the blood of Jesus. I was born again and sealed with the Holy Spirit.

I was God’s dwelling place. I was a new man in a new kingdom, in a new family, with a new power and purpose. All this happened because Steve Grant, the Naked Preacher, took to heart the words of Jesus:

Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Steve baptized me in a hotel swimming pool the night before a game.

The Naked Preacher made evangelism great again. Here are five things we can do to make evangelism great again in our own lives.

First, Steve was Christ-centered. The Naked Preacher was captivated by Jesus and his gospel. He was compelled by the love of Christ to share Christ’s love with the lost (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). When Steve was drafted by Colts in 1992, he told God that he would reach as many of his teammates as possible with the gospel. Steve was a missionary disguised as a football player.

Second, Steve was consistent. He showed up every day as the same person. I now know he was walking in the Holy Spirit’s power (Galatians 5:16;22-24). One time a teammate threw a wad of tape aimed at another player, but it hit the Naked Preacher in the eye. He looked at the player and said, “If I didn’t love Jesus, I would hurt you.” His life consistently mirrored the gospel.