Please don't get me wrong, I do believe in social action. I believe that God, in his mercy, sends the rain on the righteous and the unrighteous, and the Bible says we are to be good to all. I believe that social action is a form of holiness. So the question 'should we do social action or evangelism?' is not a legitimate question, for we would never ask 'should we be holy or evangelise?' We should be compelled to do both!
However, I have a concern! I don't think we put enough emphasis on evangelism. You see when we talk about mission these days we often think in terms of social action and not of evangelism. We will cut your grass and paint your walls but we may not speak to you about the gospel. Yes, our actions may speak loudly but we still need to speak verbally. We are a people who have a message, good news to share. We are commanded to teach and preach, to speak and tell. I would hate to think that we would show people our love in many ways but forget to tell them the message of love. I would hate to think that we would tidy people's villages but fail to tell the community about what they need to do to be saved.
In a conversation with Helen Roseveare, in the 1980's, Richard Halverson explained, 'When there is an international disaster, all the isms (not just Christianity, but also the communists and the atheists, the secularists and the philanthropists) rush to help. But there is one job that only Christians can do, and that is point people to the Saviour they need. That is our unique privilege, to show people the way to Calvary, to repentance and forgiveness of sin, and the deep inner joy and peace of knowing salvation from the hands of a crucified Saviour.'