HeartCall trains women in relational evangelism

February 19th, 2014 / By: Bonnie Pritchett | TEXAN Correspondent / comments

HeartCall trains women in relational evangelism

Well, duh!

It’s a common response to the 1992 book “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus.” But unfortunately, the fundamental distinctions between men and women are often disregarded when it comes to evangelism. A one-size-fits-all approach dominates.

That’s why Jaye Martin developed HeartCall, an evangelistic series to train women to share the gospel in daily encounters.

She created the material and an accompanying devotional guide in the late 1990s because few women attended evangelism trainings hosted by her church, Houston’s First Baptist. An updated version of HeartCall addresses cultural nuances and includes men in the relationship-based outreach training.

“Most evangelism tools out there were written by men for men,” Martin, president of Jaye Martin Ministries, said.

They involved very direct cold calling—knocking on strangers’ doors and introducing people to the gospel beginning with the sin of mankind and the need for redemption.

Martin said that approach creates an unnecessary barrier for many female hearers.

As a women’s evangelism strategist for the North American Mission Board in 1997, Martin was tapped to create evangelism training for women. But she was one step ahead of the board. Emphasizing women’s God-given, deeply relational character, Martin had already created the HeartCall tract—a symbol-based means of gospel witness in a variety of social contexts. The symbolism proved providential when HeartCall was later translated into foreign languages.

To supplement the tract, Martin compiled the daily devotional “HeartCall: The Call to Prayer,” with more than 300 women from across the country with Southern Baptist ties contributing. An updated version was released last year. Martin, with assistance from her daughter Kelly Martin, is in the final stages of revising HeartCall evangelistic training books that recognize the role of men in relational outreach. Although not due for publication until June, the material is being used in HeartCall training sessions.

Between its initial publication in 1998 and 2009, HeartCall trained more people for evangelism than any tool NAMB had produced. Today the program has been translated into seven languages. The Spanish-language version includes the English translation to accommodate bilingual evangelism.

Now a champion of sharing the gospel in everyday encounters, Martin admitted that aside from church visitations she was not intentional about engaging her neighbors until about 1990.

Later she met Tracy Jones, whose testimony was a gut-wrenching reminder that Christians disengage to the peril of others.

Jones grew up never hearing about Jesus. Her parents divorced and each married and remarried more than once. That cycle kept Jones on the move, living little more than six months in any one place. At each new address no one shared the hope of the gospel she desperately needed to hear. It wasn’t until she was 22 that Jones heard the gospel and came to faith. She and Martin met 12 years later, became friends and Jones joined the Jaye Martin Ministries team.

Her testimony still haunts Martin. What had she left unsaid in the few years she failed to reach out to her neighbors? What needs—spiritual or physical—went unmet? Who did not hear the gospel because she did not share?

“We’re not asking you to go outside your world,” Martin said. “Our challenge is to open your eyes and look: Who does God have right in front of you?”

Sharing the gospel requires time and effort, luxuries believers are too often miserly about, she said. But it needn’t be complex, confrontational or even time-consuming. And, Martin said, it gets easier each time.

Taking its cue from Colossians 4:2-6, the ministry recognizes that evangelism begins in prayer and thanksgiving. When asking God to “open doors,” Christians should be prepared to walk through them and speak the gospel wisely and graciously. That includes witnessing to neighbors, co-workers, parents of children’s classmates, people who are regularly in and out of their lives, Martin said.

HeartCall training draws on the strength of local congregations to evangelize in their neighborhoods. The 30-hour HeartCall leadership training sessions enlist 30 people at a time, giving them to tools to train others to use the HeartCall tract.

“It is so simple. People have complicated evangelism over the years,” Martin said. “I just want to give people the tools to share Christ.”

For information on training sessions and materials visit jayemartin.com.